Montreal opened their inaugural PWHL with a win on the road in the nations capital against Ottawa in front of a record-breaking crowd.
It was a night many female hockey players circled on their calendar and Tuesday night at TD Arena in Landsdowne Park Montreal managed to secure a come-from-behind 3-2 win in overtime thanks to former Montreal Force player Anne Sophie Bettez.
” Anne Sophie is a player you can trust on the ice”, Kori Cheverie Montreal’s head coach said in her post-game press conference. ” She is always going to do things the right way and she has been playing for a while and I know I can always throw her out there in terms of responsibility and have a knack for the net with her speed and it worked out for us tonight.”
In front of a record-breaking attendance of 8312 Ottawa, Montreal went at it hard all night with intense battles, the physicality, and the feistiness spoken about during the offseason. The home team came out firing as soon as the puck dropped, unlike Toronto who got swept into the emotion and fed off the crowd and smothered Montreal in the first period.
Montreal looked jittery as they got dominated and outshot 10-4 in the first 20 minutes and it looked like adjustments needed to be made to avoid an unlikely outcome. I asked Cheverie about the slow start to the game and she gave credit to the crowd who sparked Ottawa while Montreal was looking for a boost.
” We needed a bit of a spark and we wanted to see what could buy that spark for us and we went with players who had legs and I think anytime you have a crowd that size behind you it’s easy to feed off that energy and we built every single period and the third period being our best and we knew there would be some nerves heading into it and we tried to manage it as best as we could but our players needed to go through that and it’s going to be a battle every single night.”
Things got interesting in the second period after a first period where Montreal was penalized multiple times and Anne Renee Desbiens was forced into action early making some early key saves and keeping her team in the game.
” She made the saves that we needed her to make and calmed us down and she made some point-blank saves because we knew if we wanted to play the style we wanted to play there was going to be some times where she would need to bail us out and she did just that tonight.
Eight minutes into the second period Montreal captain Marie-Phillipe Poulin was taken down on a breakaway and the ref pointed to center ice meaning a penalty shot. Poulin came in on Ottawa goaltender Emerance Mashmeyer but was stopped as she tried to flip the puck over her pad but was denied to keep the game scoreless.
Four minutes later Mikayla Grant Mentis formerly of the Buffalo Beauts in the PHF thought she scored when she managed to find herself on a breakaway of her own flipping the puck under Desbiens pad but upon further review the goal was disallowed due to the fact she had put the puck underneath the net.
Ottawa finally broke the deadlock with 3:37 on the clock in the second period when Haley Scamurra from the left faceoff circle blasted a puck top shelf to score the first-ever goal for PWHL Ottawa and the crowd erupted. It didn’t take long for Montreal to respond as one minute and 15 seconds later Jillian Dempsey from behind the net found Claire Dalton in front and she managed to beat Maschmeyer with a quick snapshot to make it 1-1.
The home team regained the lead six minutes into the final frame when Katerina Mrazova found a loose rebound from an initial shot from Ashton Bell and beat Desbiens. With five minutes left in the game, Montreal tied it once again as Laura Stacey got a great feed from Tereza Vanisova and was able to beat Mashmeyer top corner.
60 minutes solved nothing so the game went into overtime and a minute and four seconds into the extra frame Kristin O’Neil made a backward pass and then the puck ended up on Bettez’s stick after deflecting off an Ottawa player and with a quick wrist shot got the puck past Maschmeyer to seal the win for the visitors.
After the game speaking in French Bettez spoke about the game and the game-winning goal that gave her team the come-from-behind win.
” I mean we had just arrived and the stands were already full”, Bettez said. ” It shows how much women’s hockey has grown in the past 10 years and the fans are here to support us and we are here to put on a show and I think that’s a great example.”
Bettez was asked what she saw on her goal and did her best to describe what happened on the play which led to the team getting the OT win.
” It was a game where Anne Renee kept us in the game which let us get into overtime and on the play O’Neil did some great work battling to keep the puck in the offensive zone and yes I was in the right spot at the right time but you can never forget the work the girls did and I turned and took a shot which went low blocker and I was really happy that it went in to give us the win.”
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