This year, the Clarkson Cup undergoes a new format. Previously, the tournament was a round robin with the top two teams going to the Championship game. This year, the regular season took on more importance. The top four teams still get in, but now there is a best-of-three semi-final before a one-game showdown in the championship game.
After the Boston Blades swept the Montreal Stars last weekend, they clinched first spot and will face off against the Toronto Furies in a rematch of last year’s final. Montreal will take on the Calgary Inferno. Action gets underway this morning.
Here is the full schedule (all times Eastern):
Game #1 Wed, 4 Mar 2015 11:00 am Toronto Furies Boston Blades
Game #2 Wed, 4 Mar 2015 3:30 pm Montreal Stars Calgary Inferno
Game #3 Thu, 5 Mar 2015 11:00 am Toronto Furies Boston Blades
Game #4 Thu, 5 Mar 2015 7:30 pm Montreal Stars Calgary Inferno
Game #5 Fri, 6 Mar 2015* 1:00 pm Toronto Furies Boston Blades
Game #6 Fri, 6 Mar 2015* 6:00 pm Montreal Stars Calgary Inferno
Final Sat, 7 Mar 2015 2:00 pm Winner CAL vs MTL Winner BOS vs TOR
*Games played if necessary
The games on Thursday and Saturday will be broadcast on Sportsnet One.
“We’ve had an interesting year,” said Montreal goaltender Charline Labonte. “The start was so rough but I think we’ve improved a lot as a team and we were hoping to finish on a good note but that’s OK. I think there are still positive things we can bring to the Clarkson Cup.”
Montreal and Calgary split the season series 3-3, with both teams going 2-1 at home. The teams are even closer than they appear. The goals in the series? 15-15.
Calgary did finish ahead of Montreal in the regular season by four points, but the teams were tied going into the final weekend of the season.
“Every time we faced Calgary we had some very tight games,” said Montreal forward Caroline Ouellette. “We won three, they won three, we scored the same amount of goals, gave up the same amount of goals so that’s how close our two teams are. It’s good that it’s a best of three because it will show clearly who the best team is.”
“We know we all have to play well to win the series because they have a very strong team.”
More from La Métropole Sports
Although they were close with Calgary all season, they have yet to beat Boston in four games this year (two games were forfeited by Boston, and awarded to Montreal as wins). Now, if they were to beat Calgary and Boston do what they are expected against Toronto, it will leave Montreal to face a team they haven’t beat.
However, most Stars are up for the opportunity should it present itself without looking too far ahead.
“At the end of the day, the one game we will have to beat them is the final (if we both win the semi-final),” said Ann-Sophie Bettez. “So if I had to pick one game to win, it would be that one.”
“[Boston] has such a good team,” said Labonte. “I don’t think it would be possible to beat them in every game but I do believe we can beat them and if that one time in the final, then so be it.”