The Markham Thunder returned to action on Saturday night in Thornhill against Montreal’s Les Canadiennes who came to town looking to close the gap towards first place.
While Markham has not played since the CWHL Weekend on Sportsnet back on Sunday January 6th against the Inferno, Les Canadiennes have not played since Sunday January 13th when they took on Shenzhen Vanke Rays at Complex Sportif Claude-Robillard.
In front of a nearly sold out crowd on a highly anticipated night in Thornhill, Montreal kicked things off fast against the Thunder in their own zone, quickly taking their first shot on Markham before a stoppage of play was called just three minutes in.
The Thunder then picked up on the action, getting hot early on as well as the Thunder found their way into Montreal’s zone where Laura Stacey found an opportunity to bank one in but just missing before hitting the boards.
The Thunder would then find a second chance a moment later, Kristen Richards missing an open shot as well, moving the play back towards centre ice. Les Canadiennes would then find themselves back in Markham’s zone at the four minute mark, missing a chance to get by Erica Howe who got the call between the pipes for the Thunder against Emerance Maschmeyer.
Les Canadiennes, still looking to net the game’s first goal, would draw back into the Thunder zone after getting their first power play of the night after defensemen Kristen Barbara was sent to the penalty box for tripping.
Montreal would then come close to opening the scoring against the Thunder but not before Erica Howe made the save to halt the play. Just a moment later, she would take another shot, but this one missed and shot high into the mesh.
After looking to reverse the play back into the Canadiennes zone freshly off the power play, Montreal would turn it around but Markham wouldn’t allow it as Victoria Bach would slap it past Maschmeyer to put the Thunder up with eleven minutes left to play. Taylor Woods and Jamie-Lee Rattray would be credited with assists on the play.
Off the draw from centre ice, Montreal would win the draw, looking to produce themselves to tie the game, but Markham playing hard would find themselves able to turn it over in Les Canadiennes zone.
After the puck found it’s way back into the Thunder zone, Jocelyne Larocque would then retrieve the puck from behind the Thunder net, sending it to Rattray in Montreal’s right hand corner looking for a chance of her own to double Markham’s lead.
Now with just over seven minutes left to play in the opening frame, Rattray once again would receive possession of the puck but unable to find an opening before Markham got very quickly got the puck back.
Rattray would then attempt to once again net one of her own while Laura Stacey would then receive a pass with a chance of her own to slap it through the opening in Montreal’s net.
The Thunder would then be put on the power play for the first time with six minutes left after Erin Ambrose was called for slashing, sending her to the penalty box for two minutes.
Laura Fortino would then head up towards Les Canadiennes zone looking to make a contribution from her own end but with no clear path, she would pass it to Jenna McParland who would come up empty with a short handed shot after losing control in the midst of a collision with Montreal.
Montreal would then drive into Markham’s zone to pick up the pace, Marie-Philip Poulin looking to make a statement to open the scoring for Les Canadiennes. Unable to pass it successfully for a chance to tie the game at one, Markham would then pick it up in Montreal’s zone, Barbara taking a shot that wouldn’t successfully get through.
Off the draw from the left side dot in Les Canadiennes zone, Montreal would claim the puck though Markham would quickly interfere and retrieve possession of it to hold the back, not before Montreal would take a chance on Howe who would make the save.
Laura Stacey, playing well in her first game back from the CWHL All-Star Break, once again would drive the puck in towards Les Canadiennes but unable to do anything with it before a stoppage of play was called in the dying minutes of the game’s first period.
With just a minute left to play and Nicole Brown in possession of the puck for the Markham Thunder, she would get shuffled up with Montreal, leading to what would be yet another brief halt in action.
Up against the boards with the clock now quickly counting down, Jenna McParland would battle for the puck against defensemen Melanie Desrochers in Les Canadiennes zone but unable to claim it to end the opening frame in Thornhill.
With the second period now underway, the Thunder would start off in their own zone in front of Howe, but would then make their way to Les Canadiennes zone looking to add another goal to the scoreboard early on, but Montreal would drag the puck out, keeping up with the fast paced game.
Back in the Thunder zone with Ambrose up against the boards in the left hand corner, Montreal would look to get something going but held back by a power spurt from Markham. This would remain with Bozek out front with the aggression being pushed on the right hand side, now out towards centre ice before they would be called for slashing and put on the penalty kill.
Ambrose would then take a shot towards Erica Howe in the Thunder zone, but saved amongst a scrum before a stoppage of play was called. Montreal, looking to gain possession now, would drive the puck around Markham’s net in hope to finally get something going and almost did as Genevieve Bannon would deflect it off the post and back into play.
With Markham now on the power play, Bozek would fire the puck from centre ice down to Laura Stacey who would take a shot of her own but miss, however, not losing the puck for Markham. Jamie-Lee Rattray would then receive the puck on her stick, sending it to Victoria Bach who, out front of the net, would score her second goal to get Markham back in it.
With the power play counting down and the Thunder looking to do more damage, they would drive into Les Canadiennes zone, up against the boards while battling for the puck, though they would lose possession to Montreal before a stoppage of play was called.
Now off the right side dot in front of Maschmeyer, the Thunder would take advantage once again, Bozek taking a shot but shorthanded before heading back into the Markham Thunder zone.
Larocque and Webster would now pass the puck around out front of Montreal’s zone, sending it to the boards where Kristen Richards would battle for it joined by Webster as well as forward Jess Jones.
Both teams would then have a quick bench switch before Markham drove back to Montreal’s zone with an open chance saved by Maschmeyer. Jill Saulnier would then grab it to try and get something going for Montreal, sending it down to Marie-Philip Poulin would send it back to Saulnier out front of Howe and the Thunder net.
Just a moment later, Saulnier would break the scoring open for Montreal, assisted by Ann-Sophie Bettez, now trailing by a single point with just under four minutes left to play in the second period.
Markham, unwilling to give them a chance to come close again, would stay steady in Les Canadiennes zone while also looking to add a third, Fortino with a close chance for Markham, with Laura Stacey out front of the net.
With just under two minutes left, Jamie-Lee Rattray would gain possession, once again working with Laura Stacey unwilling to give an edge to score the Thunder’s third goal. Montreal would then turn it around, pacing quickly towards Erica Howe, who with quick instincts, would make a great save to keep Markham up by one at the end of the period.
The Thunder would break open the third period from the centre ice draw, Laura Stacey taking a shot but hitting the pads of Maschmeyer and back into play. Montreal would then drive the puck into Markham’s zone looking to even the scoring, but turned around and fired by Jess Jones, nearly just missing an opportunity to score the Thunder’s third goal.
Remaining in Markham’s zone just three minutes into the final frame, they would battle for the puck up along the boards on the left side, unable to come up with anything before the Thunder turned it over to Montreal’s zone.
The play would then return to Markham’s zone where Marie-Philip Poulin would take a shot on Erica Howe, quickly saved before the Thunder came up with an opportunity once again to up their lead on Montreal.
With the puck being dropped from the left side dot in Les Canadiennes zone, Laura Stacey would find herself working much like Laura Fortino to find a hole, but it would end up being Nicole Brown taking the shot stopped by Maschmeyer.
Montreal wouldn’t let up, going right back at it the other way, missing Erica Howe and back around the ice with Markham retrieving it and continuing to play hard. Richards would the find herself up against the boards amongst many others before heading to the bench.
With an open opportunity in Montreal’s zone, Laura Stacey would pass the puck to Victoria Bach on the net’s left side, unable to find a route to successfully pass it through. Les Canadiennes, not liking it, would take Markham into the corner of their zone, Jenna McParland getting body checked, giving the Thunder another power play.
With eight minutes left, Kayla Tutino would find herself out front of Erica Howe, just short handing the puck, missing the shot before turning it back over and into their own zone. From the right side dot in Markham’s zone, Taylor Willard would come close to netting Montreal’s second, keeping the battle up for Howe who would take another pair of shots and manage to keep them out.
With just under four minutes left to play in the game’s third period, the Thunder would continue to push to keep the puck away from Les Canadiennes, however, Poulin would find another opportunity, slapping it from centre ice but stopped on a pad save from Howe.
Both teams would then do a quick bench swap before resuming play in Montreal’s zone, Les Canadiennes quickly pacing the Markham zone but with enough time for Howe to find it and come up with the sprawling save.
Now with just one minute left on the clock, Howe would be pulled for the extra attacker for Markham, giving Montreal one last shot to reclaim the victory on the power play.
This would send Jocelyne Larocque to the penalty box with just 34 seconds left to play, meanwhile, a case of the dramatics would take place during this time in the Thunder zone.
Markham’s defence would find themselves doing everything that they could to protect the net with the clock counting down to the game’s conclusion, giving them the 2-1 win over Montreal.
Before the two sides meet again at Place Bell for the Clarkson Cup Playoffs, the Thunder will host Les Canadiennes for the final time this season on Sunday afternoon as they square off in Bowmanville, Ontario with puck drop scheduled for 12:30pmET.