It was an exciting night of hockey in Montreal on Saturday night despite the home team not getting the win.
Montreal lost their first-ever meeting with Toronto at Verdun Auditorium losing 4-3 in a shootout, Lauriane Rougeau scored the game-winner in the sixth round snapping a three-game losing streak for her team in the process. The visitors finished the game with 40 shots on net while Montreal finished with 24 on a busy night for both goaltenders.
” Our defensive zone coverage was lacking tonight”, Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie told the media bluntly post-game. ” It’s hard to win games when you give up 40 shots but luckily we have the best goaltender in the league and that is why we have her and we will work on it.”
In front of a sellout crowd of 3232, the building was loud all night long and things got going late in the first period when New Brunswick native Sarah Bujold with eight minutes remaining in the period scored her first-ever PWHL goal jumping on a loose rebound with the initial shot coming from Leah Lum who Cheverie confirmed pregame will remain on defense for the rest of the season.
” I am happy that Deb had a great game and I think that was her most solid performance and each game is so close so you can’t afford to not stick to your gameplan.”
Toronto tied the game at one less than five minutes into the second frame when Jocelyn Laroque got a cross pass from Rebecca Leslie and was able to put the puck past Desbiens.
” I honestly think it was an off night for us for sure.”
A couple of minutes later the home team responded when its superstar Marie Phillipe Poulin found herself on a breakaway and had no issue slipping the puck past Kristen Campbell who was in net for Toronto.
” What is important for us is that we want to continue to build and work on getting better every game and it’s about our body of work and there is work to be done.”
Once again less than three minutes into the final period Toronto equalized once again as Maggie Connors with a quick shot from the point was able to beat Desbiens and put pressure back on Montreal to find a way to bounce back.
” I think tonight was a step back but usually this group is pretty resilient so I am pretty excited for what’s to come.”
With less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation, Natalie Spooner was able to bury a puck from Sarah Nurse to give Toronto its first lead of the night stunning the Montreal crowd in the process but pleasing a section of fans that had made the trip down the 401 to support their team.
” We talk a lot about investing in what’s next and how to stick to a gameplan and it’s kind of a cat-and-mouse game and tonight we were under a lot of pressure which we knew was coming and we didn’t do those things so we will continue to focus on that.”
With 16.3 seconds left and the Montreal net empty Poulin scored her second goal of the night taking the puck and skating through four Toronto players before slipping the puck past Campbell in what could be called a Connor Mcdavid esque goal and the roof came off and the crowd erupted.
Overtime solved nothing and the game went into a shootout where we saw Poulin shoot four times and was only able to score once while Toronto got goals from Hannah Miller and Rougeau who ended the game to the dismay of the Montreal faithful.
” It’s not the best game we played as a team”, Montreal defenseman Erin Ambrose told me. ” We are all aware of it and we need to come out each game and give it our best and in this league, any team can win.”
I also asked Ambrose about the shot totals and if she felt that it made a major difference in the contest.
” It wasn’t our game that we needed to play, and we didn’t execute but we have an Anne Renee Desbiens and she is the best goaltender in the league for a reason and it’s an honor to play in front of her and I wouldn’t say we have Connor Mcdavid, we have a Marie Phillipe Poulin so as much as that gameplan didn’t go as planned but when you have the best goalie and the player in the world you have a chance to win every single night.”
Featured Image ©️ Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL)