Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Milestones galore as Provost logs first CWHL hat trick with Stars launching into 2014 with win

As the first CWHL game of 2014 marked a crucial matchup in determining if the Stars could maintain their stranglehold on first place, two players contributed with key performances. Marieve Provost, the all-time scoring leader in CIS history, has found her scoring touch in a sensational sophomore season. Recording the first hat trick of her career, it would prove to be the difference in a convincing 5-2 victory.

In addition, McGill Martlets legend Stacie Tardif and 2013 CIS National Champion Casandra Dupuis logged the first goals of their CWHL careers. The milestone was enhanced by the fact it was scored on the power play (Blake Bolden was called for bodychecking). Her marker opened the scoring at the 9:02 mark as Emmanuelle Blais earned the assist. While Blades rookie Jillian Dempsey buried the puck past second-generation star Catherine Herron with less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, the game would not stay tied for long.

Merely 94 seconds into the second stanza, Marieve Provost beat Brittany Ott to regain the lead. Assists were credited to 2013 CIS national champion Casandra Dupuis and Dangerous Dominique Thibault. While both sides played a stout defensive game for the remainder of the period, the third would tell a different story.

Although Kelly Cooke tied the game at 3:41 of the final frame, she would not be able to shift the momentum in Montreal’s favor. Penalty problems would plague the Blades for the remainder of the contest as Montreal capitalized. As Xialoin Ding, the first native from China to play in the CWHL was served with two minutes for cross checking, Provost took advantage with a power-play tally at 6:00 as the Stars reclaimed the lead.  A pair of Martlets legends, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Cathy Chartrand (the CWHL scoring leader among defenders) were credited with the assists.

Provost’s goal would set the tone for the period as Dupuis scored 45 seconds later for her first career goal to extend the lead. After the goal, Boston’s Ashley Cottrell was called for hooking, forcing the Blades to adapt a defensive style. While Ott played valiantly between the pipes, the Blades were unable to reduce the Stars lead.

At the 15:42 mark, Provost slipped the puck past Ott for her first career hat-trick. With Thibault and Dupuis earning the helpers on this milestone goal in Provost’s promising career, the squad boasted a three-goal advantage.

With a sense of desperation, Boston tried to chip away at Montreal’s lead but the result was a pair of penalties issued within 36 seconds. Kelly Cooke was called for cross-checking at the 18:52 mark, while Dru Burns was sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, nullifying any opportunity at a comeback. Ott would stop an astounding 46 of 51 shots as Boston slipped to third place in the standings with Toronto occupying second position.

Of note, Provost’s first career hat trick has not only propelled her into the thick of the CWHL scoring race, but it has lifted her into a first place tie with Boston’s Casey Pickett for the league lead in goals scored. This season, Provost has scored a goal in five different games and the result is identical; a win.

The 5-0 mark that the Stars enjoy when Provost has scored a goal this season is complemented by her contributions as a rookie last season. When she scored a goal during her rookie season, Montreal enjoyed a 2-1-0 mark. Should Provost maintain the hot hand for the remainder of the season, she may emerge as the factor in the bleu, blanc et rouge obtaining their fourth Clarkson Cup. 

(Left to right) Cassandra Dupuis, Boston's Jillian Dempsey and Marieve Provost recognized as the Game's Three Stars (Photo credit: Jess Desjardins)

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