Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Evening to remember for Montreal Stars fundraiser for breast cancer as Emmanuelle Blais helps make CWHL history

The March 8 contest between the Montreal Stars and the Boston Blades at the Arena Etienne-Desmarteau encompassed many unique elements. From the outset, the Stars enjoyed a sold-out crowd of 14,000 fans as they held their annual Breast Cancer fundraiser. Of note, several players from the IWFL’s Montreal Blitz, the Tier II champions of 2013, were on-hand to show their support.

Adding to the spectacle was the fact that several CWHL stars, including the likes of Julie Chu, Hilary Knight, Genevieve Lacasse and Caroline Ouellette were returning to league play after remarkable performances at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

With CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress participating in the ceremonial face off, the aforementioned (along with Lauriane Rougeau and Catherine Ward who were inactive for the game) joined her at centre ice. As Stars players were standing proudly on the blue line adorned in pink jerseys (which were auctioned off afterwards for Breast Cancer research), captains Cathy Chartrand (Montreal) and Jessica Koizumi (Boston) took part in the face-off.

Before the first period would expire, fans were spoiled as they were witness to CWHL history. Emmanuelle Blais would register two assists in the first frame, providing her with 100 career points. As the third Stars player this season to reach the century mark, it signified the first time in CWHL history that three players from the same team in the same season achieved such a mark.

Of note, Montreal enjoyed a 2-0 lead after the first, with goals scored by Alyssa Cecere and Caroline Ouellette. For Ouellette, being able to score her first goal in her season debut held special meaning as her aunt Claire was diagnosed with breast cancer prior to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Having survived the disease, Ouellette is even more dedicated to assisting in fund raising.

After a second period in which the Stars outshot the Blades by a 15-9 mark, the score remained 2-0. Despite the Blades trying to muster an offensive attack, Stars backstop Catherine Herron (the niece of former Montreal Canadiens goalie Denis Herron) was solid between the pipes.

Heading into the third period, the Stars were ready to add to their lead. At the 5:23 mark, Sarah Vaillancourt logged a power play tally with Kate Buesser serving a body checking call. Assisted by Vinny Davidson and Cathy Chartrand, this titanic trio stands second, third and fourth in the CWHL scoring race.

At the 7:22 mark, Blais would add to the excitement of a remarkable evening by scoring on Blades goatlender Lacasse. Assisted by Davidson, she would finish with three points in the historic effort that saw her reach the century mark.

Merely 51 seconds after Blais scored to provide Montreal with the 4-0 lead, Boston got onto the scoresheet. Hilary Knight, the Blades leading scorer in Sochi, buried the puck past Herron, foiling her attempts at another shutout.

After Knight’s goal, Boston encountered penalty trouble, making it difficult to mount a comeback. With Alyssa Wohlfeiler serving a roughing call at 12:20, assembling any momentum would be difficult as the black and gold went on the penalty kill. Despite the fact that Kate Buesser (who also assisted on Knight’s goal) would manage to reduce Montreal’s lead in half with a marker at 15:22, Dru Burns would be called for interference at 17:17. With only 17 players dressed, compared to 22 for the Stars, the Blades found themselves overwhelmed all evening as the score remained 4-2 by the end of the period.

Appropriately, Blais was recognized as the First Star of the Game. Carly Dupont-Hill earned Second Star nods for her solid defensive play, while Boston’s Kate Buesser was recognized for her two-point effort as the game’s Third Star. 

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