With a preseason schedule that included exhibition matches against Canadian Interuniversity Sport schools McGill and Carleton, the Montreal Stars took their A-plus game south of the border. Competing against NCAA programs Providence and Northeastern, the Stars maintained their winning ways.
Schneider Arena set the backdrop for the first exhibition game as the Providence Friars, whose alumnae include Cammi Granato and Genevieve Lacasse, hosted the Stars. At 11:18 into the first period, Sara Dagenais scored on Friars backstop Sarah Bryant (who made her Hockey East postseason debut in 2014) for the 1-0 advantage. Assists were earned by Stars rookies (and former RSEQ rivals) Erin Lally and Chelsey Saunders.
With 1:09 remaining in the first, Lally would find herself on the score sheet as Saunders earned the assist. Of note, Lally played her collegiate hockey with Concordia while Saunders was a CIS national champion with the McGill Martlets, which has supplied the Stars with many prominent players, including 2014 Angela James Bowl winner Ann-Sophie Bettez and current team captain Cathy Chartrand.
The second stanza found Montreal extending their lead as three-time Clarkson Cup champion Noemie Marin scored at 6:46. Before the period would expire, Bryant would be pulled in favor of fellow junior Allie Morse. Of note, this was only Morse’s seventh career appearance for the Friars. At the time of the Friars goaltending change, the Stars opted to change goalies too. Charline Labonte, a three-time Winter Games gold medalist would record 23 saves when she was replaced by Catherine Herron.
Trailing by three goals as the final period began, Providence senior skater Haley Frade scored on Herron to reduce the deficit to two goals. Eligible for the 2015 CWHL Draft, Frade was the Friars leading scorer in 2013-14 with 25 points. Earning the assist was Cassidy Carels, entering her sophomore campaign for the Friars.
At the 5:42 mark of the third, Julie Chu, the first woman to win three consecutive Clarkson Cup titles, scored for Montreal, extending the lead back to three goals. Despite the Stars enjoying two power play opportunities later in the period, the Friars nullified both as the final remained 4-1. For the Friars, it marked the freshmen debuts of Blair Parent, Brooke Boquist and Madison Sansone.
The following day, Matthews Arena would provide the dramatics for a 4-3 final that was freshman Taytum Clairmont’s coming-out party. Despite the Huskies emerging on the losing end, it was an exciting match that saw them boast the likes of Kendall Coyne, a silver medalist from the Sochi Winter Games, and Lucia Povova, who competed for the Czech Republic at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds.
Between the pipes for the Huskies was Chloe Desjardins, eligible for the 2015 CWHL Draft. Hailing from Saint-Prosper, Beauce, Quebec, she has won 40 games over the last two NCAA seasons. Having her spent her freshman season as the backup to Florence Schelling (who was selected by the Stars in the 2012 CWHL Draft); she continues the remarkable legacy of elite female goaltenders to come from Quebec.
After the first period, the Huskies would actually outshoot Montreal by a 9-5 margin. Guarding the crease for Montreal was 2012 Clarkson Cup champion Jenny Lavigne, who missed the 2013-14 campaign due to pregnancy.
With Northeastern’s Bella Sinsigalli serving a penalty for tripping, Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 2014 CWHL scoring champion, would provide Montreal with the first goal of the game. At 3:05 of the second stanza, she pounced on the rebound after team captain Cathy Chartrand released a powerful slap shot. Chartrand would earn the assist, along with Virginie Bouetz-Andrieu, the first player from France to compete in the CWHL. The Stars would not enjoy their lead for long.
The Huskies would reply three minutes later with their own power play goal. Serving her second penalty of the game, Carly Dupont-Hill was sitting in the box when freshman Shelby Herrington tied the game. After freshman Lauren Kelly fired a wrist shot at Lavigne, Herrington would deflect it into the net.
Measuring in at 6-1, Herrington is not only the tallest of the Huskies freshmen recruits; she is the tallest player on the team. Having played for the boys’ varsity team at Bishop Brady high school, she also played club hockey for Team Pittsburgh.
At 9:23, another Huskies freshman, Taytum Clairmont (helped Team Ontario Red capture the gold at the 2013 Canadian U18 Nationals) provided the program with the go-ahead goal. Assisted by Kendall Coyne and freshman Ainsley MacMillan, it was Coyne who made the difference. Breaking away into the Stars zone, her backhand pass to Clairmont was pure brilliance.
Not long after, Lavigne was pulled in favor of 2014 Stars draft pick Sydney Aveson. Having re-written the record books at Plattsburgh State, the Stars are hoping that Aveson may emerge as the sleeper pick of this year’s draft.
The change would certainly steer things in the right direction for the Stars as the club took advantage of a power-play opportunity. With MacMillan serving a tripping penalty for the Huskies, it was Noemie Marin who would beat Desjardins at 15:01 to tie the game. The second would finish with the score tied at 2 apiece, although the Huskies outshot their opposition by an 8-3 mark.
Despite freshman goaltender Taylor Crosby, the younger brother of Sidney Crosby, eligible to play for the Huskies, she would not see action in this game. As a side note, her mother Trina was a member of the CWHL’s Board of Directors in 2013-14. Instead, the Huskies opted for sophomore goaltender Sarah Foss. Hailing from North Reading, Massachusetts, the home grown player was making her fifth career appearance for the Huskies.
She would provide nineteen minutes of shutout hockey until crumbling in the game’s final minute. After Clairmont scored her second goal of the game at 16:22 of the third, the Huskies struggled to protect their 3-2 lead. Despite both teams playing penalty free hockey, the experience of the Stars showed in the final sixty seconds.
Redeeming herself after her costly penalty, Dupont-Hill scored on the sophomore backstop with only 48 seconds remaining. Marin would earn her second point of the game, earning the second assist on the goal, while four-time Winter Games gold medalist Caroline Ouellette logged the first assist.
Only 30 seconds later, Marieve Provost, who graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Canadian Interuniversity Sport play, converted a pass from the Stars 2014 first round pick, Kim Deschenes past Foss. Aveson would be credited with the win, her first-ever in a Stars uniform.
For her efforts against the Stars, Clairmont was the recipient of the Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week Award. Coyne, whose presence helped provide the Huskies with confidence, led all Huskies in shots with 4, while winning 12 of 18 faceoff attempts. The Huskies next game involves an exhibition outing with the PWHL’s Oakville Hornets, while the Stars prepare to participate in the CWHL’s opening game of the season, competing against the Boston Blades.