Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Doubleheader at Montreal's Concordia University offers the finest in CWHL and CIS talent

Concordia University in Montreal held its own super Sunday for women’s ice hockey. Ed Meagher Arena would serve as the backdrop for a doubleheader featuring some of the finest talent in Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Generations intersected at the arena as Concordia holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of the many remarkable women that graced its frozen surface.

Three-time Clarkson Cup champions, the Montreal Stars hosted the Brampton Thunder in CWHL play while the defending CIS national champions, the Montreal Carabins were the visiting team against the Concordia Stingers.

Of note, many Stars players have polished their game at the renowned university. Stars founder Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux led the Concordia Stingers to the CIS championship as a player. She would follow it up by becoming the first captain in CWHL play to win three Clarkson Cups. The night before, she would even log the 100th point of her distinguished CWHL career.

Through it all, Breton-Lebreux has also managed to serve on Concordia’s athletic staff as a trainer and even had a few seasons as an assistant coach to Les Lawton, the first North American coach to win 500 women’s hockey games.

Stars legend Nathalie Dery and current Canadian Winter Games member Caroline Ouellette have also contributed to Lawton’s staff. With the Stars competing in the first half of the doubleheader, it would serve as a remarkable homecoming for Emilie Bocchia. Having graduated in 2013 from the same program that featured the likes of Karen Bye, Delaney Collins and Cammi Granato, Bocchia has been part of a promising rookie crop for the Stars.

Donning number 62, Bocchia recorded a solid +2 rating in her homecoming. A convincing 9-2 triumph over a beleaguered Brampton Thunder squad helped the Stars extend their first-place lead over the rest of their competitors. 

Brampton’s Natasha Fryer would open the scoring merely two minutes into the contest. Despite the early lead, it would prove to be their last. Casandra Dupuis, who was part of the Carabins’ 2013 CIS championship team would tie the game 68 seconds later with an unassisted tally. With Thunder rookie Jess Jones serving a body checking penalty, Emmanuelle Blais would capitalize as the Stars enjoyed their first lead of the afternoon.

At the 6:16 mark, Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 2013 CWHL Rookie of the Year logged a shorthanded tally. Stars captain Cathy Chartrand (who was also a captain with Concordia rival McGill) was called for roughing after the whistle. Just 12 seconds after the goal by Bettez, Alyssa Cecere would put the puck past Sonja van der Bliek for two of the quickest goals scored all year.

Ashley Pendleton from Brampton would reply 17 seconds later with a power play tally as three goals were scored in an astounding 29-second time span. While the fans were treated to a generous amount of scoring, the remainder of the period would prove to be a stout defensive match filled with numerous penalties.

Despite their best efforts, Brampton could not reduce Montreal’s lead in the second stanza. Defined by physical play, there were several altercations. Fannie Desforges and Pendleton would be called for roughing at 6:17. After two Brampton penalties past the 15:00 mark, Vinny Davidson and Brampton’s Mallory Johnston also engaged in a physical confrontation.

Montreal would outshoot the black and red by a 13-8 count in the second as van der Bliek allowed two more goals. McGill alumnae Bettez and Chartrand each contributed goals in a 92-second time span to add to their already insurmountable lead.

The final frame saw five more penalties as sloppy play and fatigue seemed to set in for some of the players. With Brampton captain Tara Gray serving a penalty for tripping at the 5:55 mark, Stars rookie Stacie Tardif capitalized on the power play as Carly Hill contributed her second assist of the game. At the 15:07 mark, Dupuis would earn the first multi-goal game of her career as she buried the puck past a dejected van der Bliek for a six-goal advantage.

In what would be the final penalty of the game (Mallory Johnston called for tripping), Fannie Desforges would light the lamp for Montreal. Of note, Desforges also played in the QSSF with the Ottawa Gee-Gees, resulting in three players from rival schools (McGill, Montreal Carabins, Ottawa) scoring goals in the 9-2 victory. Bettez, Dupuis and Blais were named the game’s Three Stars. 

The second half of the doubleheader featured the host Concordia Stingers challenging the defending CIS national champion Montreal Carabins. Proving why they are one of the elite teams in CIS play, the Carabins took advantage of special teams as they converted five power play opportunities into goals. 

Ariane Barker would contribute four power play markers, while Maude Gelinas registered five assists. It was part of an offensive attack that featured eight unanswered goals by the Carabins. Katherine Ricahrd would open the scoring a mere 49 sdeconds into the contest for her first of the campaign.

Two of Barker’s power play goals would close out the third period as the Stingers faced a three-goal deficit. Early in the second stanza, Barker would add another on the power play for the 4-0 advantage. Marion Allemoz, a native of France, and Audrey Gariepy scored twice, as Stingers netminder Blair Bache was overwhelmed by the powerful Carabins attack.

Bache would continue to have her problems with Barker in the third as she found the back of the Stingers net once again. In addition to her four goals on the day, she would score at least once in every period. The second hat trick of her career also signified the sixth in Carabins program history since joining CIS play.

Facing an 8-0 deficit, Audrey Morand spoiled the shutout attempt by the Carabins to get the Stingers on the scoreboard. Carabins backstop Marie-Pier Chabot only faced 12 shots on the day while Bache allowed eight of the 24 shots fired at her.


As the CWHL and CIS have engaged in a partnership, the doubleheader signifies the start of what hopes to be a prosperous relationship in helping to advance the female game. With three of the clubs participating hailing from Montreal, they are spearheading what is emerging as a golden era in one of the world’s greatest hockey cities. 

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