Part of a new generation of offensive talent for Les Canadiennes de Montreal, joining the likes of Kim Deschenes and Sarah Lefort, the 2017 Clarkson Cup was truly the coming out party for Katia Clement-Heydra.
Prior to Les Canadiennes, Clement-Heydra was already a known commodity in Montreal women’s hockey, having maintained the status of the McGill Martlets as a powerhouse in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) hockey. Having won the Brodrick Trophy, awarded to the Most Outstanding Player in CIS women’s hockey, she had gained the label of “Can’t Miss Prospect” as the CWHL Draft approached.
Selected by Montreal in the second round of the 2015 CWHL Draft, which saw them claim Marie-Philip Poulin the first, it was the foundation towards the glories that would come on March 5, 2017. Simultaneously, it allowed Clement-Heydra to add to the proud McGill legacy, which has seen Martlets alumnae Charline Labonte, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Alyssa Cecere, Cathy Chartrand, Vinny Davidson and Jordanna Peroff all shine in the CWHL.
Definitely a key contributor towards the postseason success of Les Canadiennes, Clement-Heydra recorded points in all of three of their games. The two game sweep against Brampton saw Clement-Heydra score an important goal in Game 1.
With Jamie Lee Rattray trimming Montreal’s lead to one goal in the second period, Clement-Heydra scored on Thunder backstop Erica Howe, after ten minuets of scoreless play, to restore the lead back to two goals. With Karell Emard scoring less than two minutes later, it would prove to place the game out of reach in a 7-1 final.
Game 2 against Brampton resulted in a scoreless second period, as goaltender Liz Knox did her best to propel her team to an upset. Once again, Clement-Heydra’s point would prove to be crucial. Gaining an assist on Noemie Marin’s third period goal, her playmaking skills put the game and the series on ice.
Scoring the first goal of the Finals, held at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre, it would prove to be a pivotal goal. With 14 seconds left in Montreal’s first power play opportunity of the game, Clement-Heydra skillfully managed to find her way through traffic, burying a backhand past rookie sensation Emerance Maschmeyer. Noemie Marin, one of only three women in CWHL history with 100 career goals, and Emard logged the assists as Clement-Heydra’s goal celebration definitely energized the Canadiennes faithful in attendance.
Entering the game as an underdog to the defending Clarkson Cup champions, there was an element of unease among Les Canadiennes, as they wanted to avoid becoming the first team to lose three consecutive Finals. Having appeared in the 2016 Finals, suffering a 9-3 decimation against the Inferno, it was an outcome that Clement-Heydra was determined not to repeat.
Undoubtedly, Clement-Heydra’s efforts served as the turning point of the game. As the defense of Les Canadiennes stymied the Inferno’s high octane offense, the team that would manage to score the first goal would certainly gain the advantage in terms of confidence and this was certainly Clement-Heydra’s greatest contribution on this day.
With Charline Labonte a stone wall against the Inferno, and veteran blueliner Julie Chu providing a pair of assists, helping to anchor the blueline while making plays, it would prove to be the remedy for a series of postseason heartbreaks that took place since the 2013 finals, as the relief of redemption emerged as the theme of the playoff run for Les Canadiennes.
As the triumphant members of Les Canadiennes saw the weight of pressure and expectation replaced by jubilant smiles in the postgame celebration, hoisting the coveted Cup for the first time in franchise history since 2012, back when they were known by the sobriquet “Stars”, it was only fitting that Clement-Heydra provided another memorable moment. On her knees near centre ice, a proud champion grabbed her camera and took a “selfie”, with her elated teammates in the background, serving as the defining and iconic image of the game.
Image obtained from Twitter