NIAGARA FALLS – The Montreal Stars scored three second-period goals en route to a 4-2 win over Brampton HC in the final game of the CWHL season to win the Clarkson Cup, emblematic of women’s professional hockey supremacy in Canada.
The win is their second in a row and third in four years, making the Stars the most dominant team in CWHL history. Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson was on hand to present the winners with the eponymous trophy.
Alyssa Cecere, Caroline Ouellette, and Vanessa Davidson scored in the middle period to give Montreal a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. Emmanuelle Blais scored in the third for the Stars after Brampton had counted a goal from Courtney Birchard. Cherie Piper made it 4-2 late in the game for Brampton, but it was too little, too late.
Ouellette was named tournament MVP while Best Forward was Erika Lawlor of Boston, a regular with Team USA in IIHF events. Her USA teammate, Molly Engstrom, playing for Brampton in the CWHL, was named Best Defenceman, and her Brampton teammate Liz Knox was named Best Goalie.
“The Clarkson Cup is so special to us,” said Ouellette. “We all grew up watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and seeing players get their names on the Cup. To see our names engraved on our league’s Cup is just as special.”
The Clarkson Cup weekend took place at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and is the pinnacle for the six-team CWHL.
Other teams competing were the Toronto Furies and Boston Blades. The four played a round robin, the top two teams facing off for the championship. The Stars beat Toronto 7-0 and squeezed by Boston, 5-4 in overtime, to qualify for the final game. Boston led that game 2-0 early on, but Ouellette’s overtime winner allowed the Stars to advance.
Brampton beat Toronto 4-2 and finished with a 2-1 record while Boston was 1-1-1 and Toronto winless at 0-3 in the round robin.
“There are so many Olympians now playing in the league, and any team can win on a given night,” Ouellette said. “The CWHL competition is now that good.” Indeed, once players have finished with NCAA hockey, the CWHL is the only place for them to go. The league is dominated by players from Canada and the United States, many of whom have won Olympic medals.
Players have now dispersed and are attending their national team camps in anticipation of the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship which starts in a week and a half in Burlington, Vermont. Four players from the Stars will be at Canada’s camp: Ouellette, Agosta, Blais, and Catherine Ward.
Agosta is a sure thing to make the Canadian team. She set a women’s league record with 41 goals and 80 points in just 27 games and was named the league’s most valuable player.
"It's not about breaking records," Agosta said. "It's not about who scores or who gets the assists. It's about winning. For us, we set a goal at the beginning of the season and that's to win the Clarkson Cup."