Calgary wins Clarkson Cup
by Andrew Podnieks|25 MAR 2019
The Calgary Inferno celebrate their second Clarkson Cup victory after beating Les Canadiennes de Montreal in the CWHL final.
photo: Mathew Tsang / RiverSpiral Photography / Hockey Hall of Fame
Three years after winning their first Clarkson Cup, the Calgary Inferno have done it again. They defeated Les Canadiennes de Montreal 2-0 Sunday afternoon at the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto to win the 11th edition of Canada’s premier women’s hockey championship.

Zoe Hickel scored twice for Calgary while Montreal’s captain, Marie-Philip Poulin, watched from the bench, unable to play because of an injury.

Calgary’s win in 2016 also came at Montreal’s expense, while a year later it was the reverse.

"I've been on other end of this," said Calgary forward Brianne Jenner, one of six players from the 2016 team to win again today. "This is my third time playing in the Clarkson Cup, third time against Montreal, so there's definitely a rivalry there. In a couple of days a few of them will be teammates and it'll all be smiles, but it feels pretty good Calgary got this one."

Jenner is referring to Canada’s national team that will leave shortly for Espoo, Finland for the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. Indeed, more than 15 players in today’s game will represent North America (as well, the Inferno’s Venla Hovi will be there for the hometown Finns and Aina Mizumaki for Japan).

Les Canadiennes weren’t the same without Poulin, the CWHL’s leading scorer. "She was heartbroken," said Montreal head coach Caroline Ouellette about Poulin’s inability to play. "She's the type of player that craves those big moments. Those moments where everything is on the line. She's our captain. She's our leader. She's the best player in the league, in my opinion."

"We didn’t play 60 minutes and I think we just ran out of time," she Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 31-year-old Canadiennes forward who scored twice today and who will be playing in her first Women’s Worlds next month. "By the end of the second and in the third, we got momentum, but unfortunately we didn’t play 60 minutes."
The Calgary Inferno pose for a team photo with the Clarkson Cup.
photo: Mathew Tsang / RiverSpiral Photography / Hockey Hall of Fame
The Inferno dominated the opening period. Rebecca Johnston got a great chance early, ringing a shot off the post, and a short time later they connected. Defenceman Kacey Bellamy wound up for a slap shot from the point, but noticing Hickel in front fired a beautiful slap pass to her. Hickel re-directed the shot perfectly past Emerance Maschmeyer at 7:59.

Five minutes later, Calgary made it 2-0 when Halli Krzyzaniak’s long shot went off the post and in past a surprised Maschmeyer. 

It was clearly a more determined Montreal team that came out for the second period, and they scored early to get back in the game. Sarah Lefort got the puck in the Calgary corner and got the puck back to Bettez. Back to the goal, she whipped a quick backhand along the ice that went between the pads of Alex Rigsby.

The Inferno weathered the storm, though, and restored their two-goal lead later in the period. Brianna Decker, on the power play, wired a shot between the legs of Maschmeyer at 12:42 to make it a 3-1 game.

Les Canadiennes struck for their second goal at 17:37 on a two-man advantage. The play was keyed by a great pass by the side of the goal from Hilary Knight. Erin Ambrose at the point got the puck to Knight, who turned and made a back pass between her legs to Bettez on the other side of the crease. Bettez had an open net and made no mistake.

Montreal thought it had tied the game in the first minute of the third, but the referees ruled that Knight had interfered with Rigsby and nullified the score.

And sure enough, Calgary got another goal a short time later on a beautiful series of passes between Johnston and Hickel, Hickel finishing the play off at 6:24 to make it a 4-2 game.

Johnston added an empty netter with 22.9 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.

The road to the finals for the two teams was equally difficult as both had to go the distance in the best-of-three semi-finals.

Last Friday night, the CWHL handed out its hardware. Here are the winners:

2019 Awards
Angela James Bowl, Jayna Hefford Trophy, League MVP—Marie-Philip Poulin (Montreal)
Goaltender of the Year—Alex Rigsby (Calgary)
Defenceman of the Year—Erin Ambrose (Montreal)
Rookie of the Year—Victoria Bach (Markham)
Chairman’s Trophy—Calgary Inferno
Coach of the Year—Jim Jackson (Markham)
Humanitarian Award—Mike Bartlett

Two Americans on Calgary can add their names to an exclusive group of players to have won both the Clarkson Cup (CWHL) and Isobel Cup (NWHL): Kacey Bellamy won the former in 2013 and 2015, and the latter in 2016. Brianna Decker won in 2015 and then 2016.

Previous Clarkson Cup Champions
2008-09 Montreal Stars
2009-10 Minnesota Whitecaps
2010-11 Montreal Stars
2011-12 Montreal Stars
2012-13 Boston Blades
2013-14 Toronto Furies
2014-15 Boston Blades
2015-16 Calgary Inferno
2016-17 Canadiennes de Montreal
2017-18 Markham Thunder