While the Montreal Stars and the Toronto Furies renewed rivalries, both were fighting a much tougher opponent. As the Stars hosted their annual Pink at the Rink contest, a significant event on the Montreal sporting calendar, the focus was fund raising for breast cancer research.
A week prior, the Furies emulated the Stars by hosting their own Pink at the Rink event, which also saw their opponent (the Brampton Thunder) incorporate pink into their jersey design. For the defending Clarkson Cup champion Furies, it marked the first time in franchise history that they participated in two Pink at the Rink events in the same season.
The game’s ceremonial faceoff featured CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress along with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre. While Toronto captain Michelle Bonello and Montreal captain Cathy Chartrand, proudly donning the pink jersey, took part in said faceoff, Chartrand was not the only member of the Montreal roster at centre ice.
Stars founder Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux, Julie Chu, Fannie Desforges (the 2012 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Champion) and Caroline Ouellette (the CWHL’s all-time leading scorer) were joined by four breast cancer survivors, each holding a bouquet of flowers.
Earlier in the week, Breton, Chu, Ouellette and Carly Dupont-Hill were among a group of Stars players that paid a visit to a group of strong women battling the disease. With McGill University’s Cedars Breast Cancer Clinic serving as the backdrop, it was the chance for players and patients alike to engage in a mutual experience based on inspiration, encouragement and friendship. Hill reflects on the experience fondly,
“Visiting the center was incredible. I had no idea what a wonderful facility they have and how much they provide for women. Knowing that we have helped out to provide care for the women was extremely heartwarming. It was nice to see where the money is going and how the women and facility can benefit from our charity event.”
As a side note, Elizabeth Mantha, a star skater for the Montreal Carabins in CIS play was serving as one of the linesmen. A few days ago, she returned from the 2015 Winter Universiade with a silver medal in women’s ice hockey. In addition, she served as an official at the 2014 Four Nations Cup.
After nine and a half minutes of scoreless play, Noemie Marin would break the deadlock by capitalizing on a power play opportunity. With assists going to Caroline Ouellette and Ann-Sophie Bettez, the lead would not be enjoyed for too long.
Just 11 seconds later, Toronto’s Meagan Aarts connected with Julie Allen to slip the puck past Charline Labonte. With less than two minutes remaining in the first period, Montreal’s Emmanuelle Blais restored the lead for Montreal, scoring on Sami Jo Small.
A four-goal output by the Stars in the second stanza simply put the game out of reach for the Furies. 2014 first-round pick Kim Deschenes scored at 3:15. The floodgates would open after the 12:30 mark, as the Stars logged three tallies in a time span of six mintues and five seconds. Goals were credited to Ann-Sophie Bettez, Julie Chu (who scored on the power play) and Noemie Marin (with her second of the contest).
Despite three Montreal penalties in the third period, the Furies were unable to capitalize on any power play opportunities. A goaltending change from Small to Christina Kessler resulted in no further goals allowed but it was not enough to turn the tide. Assembling only four shots on goal in the period, Labonte was hardly tested. Facing only 17 shots in the entire contest, Labonte would nullify six Furies power plays in the entire contest.
Statistically, three Stars players (Bettez, Marin and Ouellette) would accumulate three points in the contest as the score was an overwhelming 6-1 final that only took 1 hour and 59 minutes. Marin, who would log her 100th career goal earlier in the contest, would also finish the game with First Star honors, while Bettez earned Second Star and Blais, who logged the game-winning goal was recognized with the Third Star.
Since the Stars have launched their Pink at the Rink event, over $45,000 have been raised for breast cancer research. The cause has personally affected the families of players such as Breton, Ouellette and Stacie Tardif, a second-year player for the club. As Pink at the Rink continues to become a beacon of hope for CWHL players and fans alike, the positive feelings of collaborating for the greater good ensures that resilience and redemption shall define this remarkable legacy in women’s hockey.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”