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Bettez beats the Thunder 3-2 in the shootout

Erica Howe puts on a 30-plus save performance in the loss.

Erica Howe kneels on the ice in full goalie gear with her back to the camera. Visual China - CWHL

Montréal rolls into this series in fourth place despite having played the least amount of games in the league, which bodes well for them. With five more games under their belt, Markham has played the most in the league and sits fifth, which is not quite as positive.

Jenna McParland was a scratch again this game, which comes as no surprise — that injury in Shenzhen looked pretty nasty. Other scratches were Alexis Woloschuk and Nicole Kosta. Kosta has now missed over two thirds of the season to date, possibly due to a collision with Kelli Stack in Markham’s first series against KRS. However, the home game meant both Laura McIntosh and Ellie Seedhouse were available.

First period

The game started as a pretty back and forth affair, Markham managing to sustain zone time a perhaps a little better than Montréal but not much. There was a little early entertainment when the Thunder very literally roofed the puck, losing it somewhere in the rafters. It never did make it back down to ice level.

Tracy-Ann Lavigne was called for interference, giving Markham the first power play of the game. Unfortunately they took about a minute to get things settled and properly set up. While they were generally giving the Canadiennes all they could handle this period, they never looked particularly organized about it.

With eight minutes left in the period, Jamie Lee Rattray sprung Laura McIntosh for a breakaway. McIntosh dangled Emerance Maschmeyer to put the Thunder up 1-0.

Markham kept the pressure on for a couple of minutes following the goal but Montréal got control back in short order, forcing a few saves by Erica Howe as well as a block by Rattray.

Rattray went off for hooking, giving us the first look at Montréal’s power play. The Canadiennes looked a lot more structured than their opponents and managed more time in the offensive zone, but a few lazy passes had the puck back in their own zone late in the penalty. Howe had to make a few extra saves at even strength but the Thunder escaped the period leading in both shots (11 to 4) and goals.

Second period

Kristen Barbara got the period off to an exciting start as she scored on her own rebound less than a minute in, giving Markham a 2-0 lead.

Markham followed this up with a power play but couldn’t convert.

Play was still somewhat even until Montréal went on the kill for the second time in the period. A not terribly great power play for Markham devolved into some physical play for both teams and Jamie Lee Rattray went off for a crosscheck. Markham began to lose control of the game as 4 on 4 became 5 on 4 and then 5 on 3 for Montréal when the puck went over the glass and the Thunder were called for delay of game.

What looked like the first goal for the Canadiennes near the end of the second Markham penalty was called off because the net came off its moorings. Some shoving after the whistle led to coincidental minors but luckily for the Thunder, no extra special teams time.

After several chances, Noémie Marin finally got one past Erica Howe with just over five minutes left to make it 2-1.

With just over a minute left, Rattray had a golden chance in by herself with the Canadiennes defenders chasing her, but Maschmeyer made the stop and Montréal turned it into a 2 on 1 in the other direction.

Howe had all of the work this period, facing 18 shots and a lot more shot attempts, while Maschmeyer had just nine shots to deal with at the other end.

Third period

Markham went on the penalty kill in the first minute of the period, which never bodes well. While they killed it off, they never really got control of the puck back. Ann-Sophie Bettez, newly anointed captain for the Canadiennes this season, tied the game up 30 seconds into even strength.

Ellie Seedhouse had Markham’s best chances on Emerance Maschmeyer as the period approached the halfway mark but couldn’t close the deal.

With just over four minutes left Katia Clement-Heydra managed to put another puck past Howe, but since Howe had just been knocked down by Karell Emard, not only was the goal called back but the Canadiennes went on the penalty kill for their troubles. In a fairly good example of how this game was going for Markham, it resulted in a shorthanded chance for Bettez.

The clock wound down in a barrage of shots against Howe, but she kept everything out and the game went to overtime.

OT

I’m not sure Markham even got a shot off in the period — Rattray made a good effort but was foiled by a lovely poke check by Sophie Brault. Instead, Howe had to do stuff like this a lot:

She kept doing that sort of thing, so off to the shootout they went.

Shootout

Laura McIntosh: no

Katia Clement-Heydra: no

Jamie Lee Rattray: no

Ann-Sophie Bettez: scores a beauty

Kristen Barbara: no

Montréal win 3-2, a game they deserved to win and Erica Howe really didn’t deserve to lose. She also deserved a star of the game, but she didn’t get one of those either

Notes

Even with Seedhouse and McIntosh available, both of whom showed the importance of reserve players in this game, the Thunder carried only 11 forwards and five defenders. I’m not sure the entire game can be blamed on a tired defensive core but it certainly didn’t help any.

Three stars

3. Laura McIntosh, Markham Thunder (1G, 2 PIM)

2. Emerance Maschmeyer (24 saves)

1. Ann-Sophie Bettez (1G, 1 shootout goal)

Markham will be in action next weekend hosting the Boston Blades at 7:30 pm on December 9th (CWHL Live) and 12:30 pm December 10th.