By Mark Staffieri
After a 1-3-0 start to the season, the Montreal Stars have found their stride. In a two game sweep of the Brampton hockey club, the Stars exploded with 100 combined shots, and 15 total goals. The first game featured All-World goaltender Florence Schelling standing between the pipes for Brampton, facing the team that drafted her.
Schelling gave a valiant performance as she faced 55 shots in a highly competitive 7-5 loss. Of the 12 goals scored in the contest, 6 were scored on the power play. Gillian Apps opened the scoring in the December 8 contest with a power play marker to give Brampton the lead. Before the end of the period, Montreal would reply as Meghan Agosta-Marciano scored as Vinny Davidson earned the assist.
Penalties were the story of the first frame as Brampton was sent four times to the penalty box. Lori Dupuis and Jayna Hefford were called for penalties within seven seconds of each other (hooking at 2:26, delay of game at 2:33). Schelling was strong in net as she withstood a 5 on 3 power play against a highly potent Stars offense. She would stop 23 Montreal shots in the opening frame. With 33 seconds left in the frame, Haley Irwin was called for tripping, giving Brampton a late power play opportunity.
Heading into the second frame, penalties continued to plague both sides. Fifty seconds into the second, Apps would score again to give Brampton a 2-1 lead. Only twenty-seven seconds later, Jayna Hefford scored to give Brampton a 3-1 lead. The Stars seemed to play with a sense of panic as Meghan Agosta was called for body checking at the 2:02 mark. Dominique Thibault would find herself called for cross checking at the 7:40 mark as Brampton maintained its 3-1 advantage.
The Stars would regroup as Caroline Ouellette buried the puck past Schelling at the 9:25 mark to reduce Brampton’s lead. In an effort to preserve their shrinking lead, Brampton played a very stout defensive game. Although Gillian Apps would be called for body checking at the 15:46 mark, Bailey Bram scored a shorthanded goal to extend Brampton’s lead back to 2 goals.
Despite a 4-2 advantage, Brampton would commit a costly penalty near the end of the second stanza. Courtney Birchard was called for delay of game at 17:11. That would prove to be the turning point in the contest as Montreal found its momentum. Carolyne Prévost would score fifteen seconds later as the score was now 4-3. At 17:52, Emmanuelle Blais also scored on the power play to tie the game.
The third period would be dominated by Montreal. Although the first half of the period was a stout defensive contest, the Stars maintained their composure. Apps would be called for penalties twice in the third. Her hooking penalty at 9:46 gave the Stars the break they needed. Meghan Agosta-Marciano would log her second goal (and fourth point of the game) as the Stars enjoyed their first lead of the game.
Apps would redeem herself as she scored less than two minutes later to tie the game. The goal would give Apps a hat trick. With the score tied, Montreal did not panic. Blais would log her second marker of the game at the 14:49 mark to give Montreal back its lead. A holding penalty to Brampton rookie Bailey Bram at 16:07 would give the Stars the opportunity to add to the lead as Ann-Sophie Bettez logged a power play marker for a 7-5 tally. Apps and Agosta-Marciano led all skaters with four points each.
The second game would find Liz Knox guarding the crease for Brampton. Laura McIntosh would provide her with a 2-0 cushion. She would score twice in the first eight minutes of the second contest. Despite the advantage, it would not take long for Montreal to regroup and get on the scoreboard.
Cathy Chartrand opened the scoring as she beat Knox at the 9:37 mark of the period. Only 23 seconds later, Emmanuelle Blais tied the score. The 12:01 mark would see Carolyne Prévost provide the Stars with three unanswered goals as any momentum that Brampton had was evaporated.
Power play opportunities would turn in Montreal’s favour in the second stanza. In building on a 3-2 lead, Jayna Hefford was called for hooking at 3:01. Blais would score her second of the game at the 3:50 mark, with assists going to Haley Irwin and Meghan Agosta-Marciano. Two minutes and twenty-three seconds later, Agosta-Marciano would find her name on the score sheet to make the score 5-2 for the Stars.
Lori Dupuis and Gillian Apps would be called for penalties within five seconds of each other. Dupuis was called for tripping at 7:58, while Apps was sent to the penalty box on a hooking call at 8:03. With a 5 on 3 advantage, Agosta-Marciano made Brampton pay for their mistake with her second goal of the game, and fourth of the series.
With a 6-2 lead, Brampton’s Jayna Hefford attempted to rally the troops. She would score at the 13:51 mark, with an assist going to Gillian Apps, her second of the game. Despite their best efforts, Brampton was overwhelmed by the Stars in the third and final frame. Less than two minutes into the frame, Dania Simmonds was called for body checking. Julie Chu would score Montreal’s third power play goal of the game with assists going to Ann-Sophie Bettez and Noemie Marin.
Ann-Sophie Bettez would score the final goal of the game for the second consecutive night, as Montreal outshot Brampton by a convincing 17-4 mark in the third. Overall, the Stars outshot Brampton by a 45-26 mark. Although Brampton had five power play opportunities, the Stars were highly effective on special teams, denying Brampton every time. Agosta-Marciano led all Stars skaters in scoring for the second consecutive game with a sparkling four point performance. The win now places Montreal in third place in the CWHL standings.