I said at the beginning of the season that with players out for centralization Montréal was going to wreck the league. I hadn’t quite counted on exactly how good Kunlun Red Star was going to be, but when the Canadiennes face a team like Toronto it would have been nice to have been a little less right.
This was truly a slow-motion start for the Furies. They got puck possession, strolled into the Canadiennes' zone, nudged the puck towards Emerance Maschmeyer... and Katia Clement-Heydra put it past Sonja van der Bliek at the other end of the ice.
Eleven seconds later, Ann-Sophie Bettez made it 2-0 for Montréal less than a minute into the period. Toronto called a time out. It was going to be one of those games.
The Furies kept missing each other as they tried to make cross-ice passes, resulting in a number of icing calls. Montréal was bigger, faster, generally more skilled, and possibly more rested. The commentators for yesterday's game noted that one of Markham's assistant coaches said most of the team was just getting their body clock back to normal after the Chinese trip. Maybe this was a factor for Toronto as well. While they're generally a slower team than Montréal there were some moments of play that were just shocking.
Les Canadiennes' third goal of the game came late in the period, after Montréal had a number of close calls, including a loud shot off a post. A rebound came off van der Bliek's pads at just the right angle for Bettez to scoop it up and send it in before the goalie could reposition herself. With half the net open, it was an easy one for Bettez.
Jenna Dingeldein came in for a shot, Emerance Maschmeyer made the stop and Jess Vella couldn't stop, crashing into the post and knocking the net off its moorings. Naturally the Canadiennes had some objections to this and Bettez ended up in the penalty box after she made her point known a little too forcefully.
The power play resulted in very little, and the Furies ended the period down 3-0, having recorded only four shots to Montréal's 17
Whatever was going wrong, Coach Flanagan didn’t seem to think changing the lines would help, as he sent the same skaters who started the game (Fulton, Vella, Dingeldein, Moulson and Gaskin) out to start the second. Certainly they managed to get farther into the period without a goal this time, although they weren’t giving Maschmeyer much to deal with either.
Hayley Williams, one of the few Furies who seemed to have energy to spare, got into the Montréal zone with what looked like a good chance until she was tripped up by Canadiennes defender Sophie Brault. Clement-Heydra got a shorthanded goal on a breakaway in the ensuing power play. 4-0 Montréal.
What looked like a Canadiennes goal at about the halfway mark was called off for... reasons. A few seconds later Maschmeyer made another stop on Jess Vella and roughing ensued. (Jess Vella, Not Allowed Near Goalies, according to opposing teams.) As the refs sorted out who was going in the box (Jenna Dingeldein, Brooke Beazer and Karell Emard) and for how much (coincidental minors plus two minutes against the Furies), Sonja van der Bliek appeared to speak to one of her skaters, who went to the bench. Before the puck dropped for the Canadiennes power play, Sami Jo Small came out to take the net for Toronto.
Having a goalie start cold on the penalty kill is not the best situation and sure enough Marion Allemoz scored her first of the season, sending one in over Small’s shoulder just one second after the power play expired. 5-0
Noémie Marin had a scary-looking collision with the boards late in the second period. She got off the ice under her own power but I couldn’t swear that she came back for the third.
Gaskin was called for slashing but that penalty kill turned into 4 on 4 hockey when Emard slashed Carolyne Prévost to stop a shorthanded chance. Prévost got another chance at Maschmeyer during the 4 on 4 and Vella knocked the net off after the save again.
Three seconds into the Furies’ advantage, Melanie Desrochers was called for interference. With the 5 on 3, Jenna Dingeldein finally beat Maschmeyer with a hard shot from the top of the circle to make it 5-1.
Unfortunately, with fifteen seconds to go in the period Karell Emard combined with Sarah Lefort and Kayla Tutino to put the Canadiennes up 6-1 at the end of two despite some good defensive work from Beazer. Montréal again outshot the Furies 12 to 6.
This was easily the Furies’ best period of the game. They made a bunch more zone entries, gave Maschmeyer a lot of work to do and generally looked like they were going to try and win the game.
Finally all the pressure paid off and with eight minutes left in the game Prévost got a nice shot past Maschmeyer to make the score 6-2. The assists went to Brittany Zuback and Hayley Williams.
Allemoz was called for tripping with a little less than five minute left in the game. A minute into the power play, Montréal got the puck out of their own zone. They got numbers in on Small, got her moving, and got Bettez a hat trick, 7-2.
The end of the game was... interesting.
Sarah Lefort and Jessica Platt were called for roughing at 18:17 after Montréal iced the puck. Platt was frustrated to the point of stick-throwing in the box. Four on four hockey led to another goal for the Canadiennes.
For the 8-2 goal I have to take the ref’s word that it actually went in because it was one of those in-and-out things from a distance that was back on the ice in front of Small as the whistle was being blown. Cathy Chartrand also seemed pretty certain she scored but I don’t trust opposing players to be right on these things.
Last minute of play, nothing much is going to happen right?
46.7 seconds left: Brooke Beazer (game sheet says Fulton, Beazer was announced in the arena) trickled one past Maschmeyer during a bit of a scramble. 8-3
27.7 seconds left: Fight! Laurence Beaulieu and Jordanna Peroff go to the box for les Canadiennes. Katie Gaskin, Hayley Williams and Shannon Moulson in for the Furies. Box is getting crowded and we get some 4 on 3 hockey
6.7 seconds left: Kim Deschênes is called for holding. So that’s four players in each box and 3 on 3 hockey to end the game. At least it was kind of entertaining?
Montréal takes it 8-3. Furies managed to up their game in the third, outshooting the Canadiennes 15-14. Score effects possibly played a role, especially early in the period, but by the end it was a full out battle.
Carlee Campbell continues to be a scratch after her arm injury a few games ago. She walked with the Furies in a Santa Claus parade this week so I was hopeful of a return, but walking doesn’t require nearly as much use of one’s arm as playing hockey. Sydney Kidd and Julie Allen were also out today.
Despite the score, the Furies had a lot more near misses than I’ve seen in a while. Prévost, Vella, and Williams were the most involved in scoring chances, with a few others from Dingeldein, Platt and Alessandra Bianchi (who is still looking for her first CWHL point). There was even a moment I thought I might get to write “goal by Stewart with assist from Stewart”, which would have been fun.
Along with the need to speed their game up, Toronto still has some issues backing up the puck carrier on a zone entry. The puck carriers also have a frustrating habit of stickhandling in below the goal line where the play dies because there’s nowhere to go. Especially with a hot-and-cold goalie like Maschmeyer there’s a lot to be said for just shooting the puck.
This is more a note for yesterday’s game, but Markham Thunder GM Chelsea Purcell tells me that Nicole Kosta sustained an “upper body injury” but is back practicing with the team. Hopefully she’ll make it into a game soon.
3 Noémie Marin, Canadiennes de Montréal (1A)
2 Sarah Lefort, Canadiennes de Montréal (3A, 2PIM)
1 Katia Clement-Heydra, Canadiennes de Montréal (2G, 1A)
Next weekend Montréal hosts the rematch series, with games at 5:30 pm on Saturday December 9 and 1:30 pm on Sunday December 10.