Jordanna Peroff the perfect acquisition for the Montreal Stars

As the Montreal Stars look to capture their first Clarkson Cup since 2012, a former star player with the McGill Martlets may be the final piece of the puzzle. With 12 players from the 2014-15 Stars roster not returning, Peroff brings two very valuable elements to the club.

In addition to having already won a Clarkson Cup championship (with the Toronto Furies in 2014), Peroff enjoyed a stellar university career with Montreal’s McGill Martlets. In five sensational seasons with the Martlets, Peroff participated in five Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournaments.

Although Peroff did not find her scoring stride with the Furies (traditionally, they have always been an offensively starved team, her positive attitude did not wane. Known as a social butterfly, Peroff tends to be a popular player and teammate wherever she plays.

Raised north of Toronto in Keswick, Ontario, a municipality in York Region, Peroff was part of several key events in Furies franchise history. Of note, she played with the club at Air Canada Centre in November 2013, which was the first CWHL regular season game played in an NHL arena.

In addition, she would help the club capture its first-ever Clarkson Cup, an emotional 1-0 overtime win against the Boston Blades. Adding to Peroff’s jubilation was the fact that the victory came in Markham, Ontario, also part of York Region, making the win feel like it was literally in her own back yard.

Making her CWHL debut on October 20, 2012, it resulted in a winning start as the Furies prevailed by a 4-3 tally against Brampton. Appearing in 20 games, she only logged two penalty minutes, showing strong discipline.

In the opening match of her second season (2013-14), a November 9 contest against the Calgary Inferno, Peroff logged her first career goal. Of note, it was a memorable goal providing her with a special milestone. Peroff would log the game-winning tally as the Furies prevailed by a 3-2 count against the visiting Inferno.

By season’s end, she would log assists in a pair of losses to Montreal (February 15) and Brampton (March 9). Ironically, the loss against Brampton represented the only game all season in which Peroff had a positive plus/minus rating (+2).

With only six penalty minutes in more than 40 career games played at the CWHL level, her remarkable discipline reflects a great style of play that should enable her the chance to make an impact with the Stars.
With the blue and white, Peroff’s role occupied more of a forechecking capacity, proving that preventing goals comprises a key role. Paying attention to such details is just as important as a teammate that may have scored a goal on the opposite end of the ice.

PeroffCup

Competing with the Stars, it is highly likely that Peroff shall establish new bench marks for most goals and points in one season during her CWHL career. Reunited with the likes of Martlet teammates such as Ann-Sophie Bettez (a BLG Award winner), former captain Cathy Chartrand, 2015 second round pick Katia Clement-Heydra and All-World goaltender Charline Labonte, there are strong feelings of familiarity and pride on this year’s edition of the Stars.

In Montreal hockey circles, it had only been one year earlier (2011), when Peroff solidified her legacy. Leading the Martlets to a victory over the highly talented St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the 2011 CIS national title game, Peroff assembled a solid two-point performance that set the tone for the remainder of the game. For her efforts, she was recognized as tournament MVP, a remarkable milestone in her fabled career.

Graduating with 139 career points with the Martlets, Peroff was also an alternate captain for three seasons. Her leadership followed later in her career. Having also dressed the shirt of Macedonian Suns in the Canadian Multicultural Hockey League, she acquired the 2013 MVP award.

Although Peroff was not part of CWHL play during the 2014-15, she was equally prominent. Competing with the Italian club, the Bolzano Eagles, she participated in Group G of the Euorpean Women’s Champions Cup. Playing alongside Chelsea Furlani during the season, Peroff logged a pair of assists in a 7-3 final on December 6 against the Espoo Blues.

PeroffBolzano

During the 2014-15 EWHL season, Peroff was one of seven Canadians competing in the league. She was joined by the likes of Alex Gowie (KHM Budapest), blueliner Regan Boulton (EHV Sabres Vienna) and Abygail Laking (DEC Salzburg Eagles). Of note, the Neuberg Highlanders featured the most Canadians of any European roster. Consisting of three players, including scoring champion Devon Skeats, forwards Shelby Ballendine and Paula Lagamba completed the Canadian trio.

With a very strong roster this season, Peroff may likely be a third line player with the Stars, but her talents give her the potential to be remarkably effective, giving the Stars solid depth. Possessing an impressive skill set, she also has the ability to occasionally shift to a second or first line, showing versatility. Possessing championship experience, Peroff not only knows what it takes to win a Clarkson Cup, her positive attitude and team first approach make her an ideal teammate.

Whirlwind time culminates with heroic accolades for Charline Labonte

Despite the heartbreak of an overtime loss in the Clarkson Cup championship game against archrival Boston, All-World goaltender Charline Labonte earned the admiration of teammates and opponents alike. In the opening round of the Clarkson Cup playoffs, Labonte recorded back-to-back shutouts against a highly potent Calgary Inferno offensive unit.

Facing 27 shots from the Boston Blades in the Clarkson Cup championship game, her efforts were essential in providing the Stars with an opportunity to force overtime. With seven shutouts of postseason play, the Blades would eventually figure out Labonte.

Despite the overtime loss, Labonte allowed one of the most historic goals in CWHL history, as Janine Weber became the first European to score a Clarkson Cup winning goal. For her heroic efforts in a very strong postseason, Labonte was recognized as the Clarkson Cup’s MVP. Statistically, her postseason was the finest, having made a tournament best 87 saves and .967 save percentage, while also registering a Goals Against Average of just 0.99.

Momentum was certainly high for Labonte heading into the postseason. Of note, she was recognized as the recipient of the CWHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award. Her 1.89 GAA, 380 saves and .927 save percentage reprsented a great season that was outdone only by Boston’s Genevieve Lacasse, who clinched the regular season goaltending title with a 1.68 GAA.

All smiles at the Press Conference where the Montreal Canadiens announce their support of the CWHL's Montreal Stars (Photo credit: Jess Desjardins)

All smiles at the Press Conference where the Montreal Canadiens announce their support of the CWHL’s Montreal Stars (Photo credit: Jess Desjardins)

Emotions were definitely high for Labonte heading into the Clarkson Cup title game. Not only was it the final game of CWHL co-founder Lisa Marie Breton-Lebreux’s career, but Labonte had a chance at history. A Clarkson Cup win would have made her the 14th woman to earn Triple Gold Club for Women status (a prestige that includes IIHF World Gold and a Winter Games Gold Medal).

Although such an outcome eluded Labonte, the last 13 months has represented a series of many smaller victories that culminate in an impressive body of work, making her a role model in ways that extend beyond the game. In the aftermath of an emotional gold medal win at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Labonte went public, declaring a same-sex preference. It would prove to be a very proud moment, as her courage was met with praise.

Having engaged in a relationship with Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis, it was an ideal rebuttal to the anti-gay legislation that caused controversy in Sochi. With so many other athletes upset about the legislation, it was only fitting that Labonte’s relationship strengthened in Sochi.

Since then, the two have supported each other in many ways. When Labonte made history by serving as a captain in the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game, Bucsis was in the stands showing her support. By season’s end, the CWHL experienced another milestone as the Montreal Canadiens announced a financial commitment to the Stars. Among the members of the Stars at the press conference, Labonte was on-hand, fielding questions from the media.

In March 2015, Bucsis and Labonte would speak at Cornell University. Two months later, Cornell hockey player would be among the architects of the university’s “We Don’t Say” campaign, certainly gaining inspiration from their visit. There is no question that as the seasons progress, many more Canadian athletes, plus young women from other walks of life, shall continue to draw inspiration from Bucsis and Labonte’s remarkable year.

Haley Irwin westward bound as Calgary Inferno rebuilds their offense

Coming off a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Haley Irwin’s return to the CWHL shall find her with a new club. Acquired from the Montreal Stars for future considerations, Haley Irwin heads off to the Calgary Inferno, the CWHL’s most western-based franchise.

This marks the third marquee acquisition for the Inferno this off-season. The first involved Jocelyne Larocque being sent to Brampton in exchange for forward Bailey Bram. In addition, the club signed Rebecca Johnston (one of Irwin’s teammates in Sochi) as a free agent. As Irwin and Johnston played with Bram at the 2012 and 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships, the three are very familiar with Calgary, as it is also the national headquarters for the national women’s team.

Of note, the Calgary Inferno becomes the third CWHL team to obtain Irwin’s playing rights. Selected in the first round by the Brampton Thunder in the historic 2012 CWHL Draft, she would join the Montreal Stars in the preseason. During that rookie campaign of 2012-13, Irwin would accumulate 21 points in 20 games played.

Her best performances included a four point output on the road against Team Alberta (now known as the Inferno) on February 10, 2013, including two goals and two assists. Her first career CWHL hat trick would be scored on March 2, 2013, as part of a 6-2 home victory against the Toronto Furies. The season would finish with Irwin appearing in the Clarkson Cup finals.

For the Stars, it could not have been an easy decision to part ways with Irwin. Last season, the franchise lost Carolyne Prevost to free agency, and she would help lead the Toronto Furies to the Clarkson Cup. Should history repeat itself with Irwin, it would be a devastating outcome for a franchise eagerly attempting to capture its fourth title.

The one consolation may be the fact that the franchise has blueline sensation Lauriane Rougeau suiting up for the Stars. Having played with Irwin at Sochi, Rougeau will be expected to anchor the defense for years to come. Complemented by bright, young talent at the forward position such as Sophie Brault, Fannie Desforges, Kim Deschenes and Vanessa Gagnon, the Stars may have a gem to replace the offensive firepower that Irwin brought to the bleu, blanc et rouge. Of note, both teams shall face off against each other on October 24, 2014, the home opener for the Inferno.

As the Inferno look to build on the momentum of their first postseason appearance in 2014, the addition of Irwin only improves their chances of competing for the Clarkson Cup title. Should it happen, Irwin will become the newest member of the Triple Gold Club for Women, which recognizes players that have earned Olympic Gold, IIHF World Gold and the Clarkson Cup. In addition, she won the gold medal at the 2003 Canada Winter Games, playing alongside Meghan Agosta, who was also a teammate on the Stars.

Becoming the second high profile player from Canada’s national program to join the Inferno’s new-look offense, Irwin’s experience adds a feeling of confidence to the ambitious Inferno. A former captain at the NCAA level with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, she brings the maturity and leadership necessary to bring the Inferno’s offense to the next level. Her first test shall come on October 18, as the Inferno challenge the defending Clarkson Cup champion Toronto Furies.

Winter Games gold medalist Meghan Agosta aspires for career in law enforcement

Having won three gold medals in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, Meghan Agosta has established herself as a living legend in the sport. Like all athletes, eventually the spotlight fades away and the rigors of the real world rear its sometimes ugly head. While Agosta is only 27, she is young enough and certainly talented enough to play in at least another three Winter Games, she already has her sights set on a career after hockey.

A major in criminology at Mercyhurst University, Agosta grew up dreaming of becoming a police officer. Having grown up in the county of Windsor-Essex, she is the second athlete from area with aspirations towards a career in law enforcement. Decathlete Jamie Adjetey-Nelson also has plans to pursue the same career.

In an interview with CBC Windsor, Agosta stated that hockey and policing have similarities. There is no doubt that a prison cell is the real world equivalent to the penalty box. She has already submitted applications to the Ontario Provincial Police, along with the police departments in Hamilton and Vancouver, the city where she earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the 2010 Winter Games. As a side note, the police force was even gracious enough to have Agosta ride with some officers.

Of note, she would not be the only female hockey player to pursue a career in protecting the public. Amy Turek, a former member of the Canadian national team, and Cherie Hendrickson (who ran in the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathon) both serve as paramedics. Ironically, Hendrickson played against Agosta in the 2013 edition of the Clarkson Cup championship. Amber Bowman, who called Tessa Bonhomme her teammate at Ohio State University is a firefighter for Central York Fire Services (located north of Toronto).

Considering the departments where Agosta has submitted an application, the most adequate setting would be Hamilton. Taking into account that her husband, Marco Marciano, is a goaltender coach with the Hamilton Bulldogs (the American Hockey League affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens), the chance to work and live in the same city would be a refreshing change from the somewhat nomadic life in hockey.

For fans of the Brampton Thunder, seeing Agosta serve among Hamilton’s finest may be a blessing in disguise. From 2011 to 2013, Agosta won two scoring titles with the Montreal Stars. With Hamilton approximately a one-hour commute from Brampton, the opportunity to have Agosta compete with the Thunder, even on a part-time basis would certainly inject new life into a beleaguered franchise.

Regardless of whether Agosta continues to compete at the club level, one reality is that there will be an adjustment period for the fans. The thought of Agosta issuing a speeding ticket to one of her fans would certainly require a sense of humor on both sides. Bearing in mind that a fan could state on social media (or mentioning in a hockey arena) that they were issued a speeding ticket by one of hockey’s living legends would not be surprising. Although Agosta’s standing as a sporting hero and a great example of what young people can achieve would only be enhanced by a career in law enforcement.

Bettez and Chartrand shine for Montreal Stars with numerous accolades

In a season that saw the Montreal Stars finish with the best win-loss record, it was only fitting that two of their finest added some hardware on CWHL Awards night. Representing a new generation of stars for the bleu, blanc et rouge, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Cathy Chartrand continued to build on the momentum of their superlative 2012-13 rookie campaigns.

Following up on her 2013 CWHL Rookie of the Year Award triumph, Ann-Sophie Bettez earned two awards. She would begin by claiming the Angela James Bowl, awarded to the highest scoring player during the CWHL regular season. In 23 regular season games, Bettez led the league in goals (16), assists (24), points (40), plus/minus rating (+23) and game-winning goals (7). Such a performance also garnered Bettez the league’s Most Valuable Player Award.

In Stars lore, Bettez becomes the fourth member of the franchise to claim the scoring title. Following in the paths of Sabrina Harbec (2010), Caroline Ouellette (2011) and Meghan Agosta-Marciano (2012, 2013), it also marks the fifth consecutive season that a member of the Stars claims the title.

Another unique aspect in the road towards the scoring title for Bettez was the fact that the top four scorers in the league all played for Montreal. The runner-up for the scoring title was Sarah Vaillancourt, who registered 35 points. Finishing in third was Vanessa (Vinny) Davidson with 31 points.

Of note, Davidson led the league in power play goals with eight while becoming one of three Stars players to reach 100 career points during the campaign. Ranking fourth with 30 points was Cathy Chartrand, only the second team captain in franchise history. Considering that Davidson, Bettez and Chartrand played together for the nationally ranked McGill Martlets in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, they are proudly building a new legacy of remarkable women’s hockey in Montreal.

While Chartrand tied with Davidson for the league lead in power play assists with 13, she managed to lead all defenders in scoring with 30 points. Statistically, she was also the top scoring defender in goals (9), assists (21), plus-minus rating (+18) and power play goals (4). Of note, it marked the second consecutive season that she was the scoring champion among defenders. For her efforts, she was recognized as the CWHL Defender of the Year.

Boston rookie defender Blake Bolden, the first African-American selected in the first round in the history of the CWHL Draft ranked second to Chartrand with 19 points. Of note, Bolden’s 19 points were good enough to lead all rookie defenders. Of note, Chartrand was the only defender to finish in the Top 10 in the CWHL scoring race. Along with Bolden, they were the only two ranked in the Top 25.

Perhaps the most impressive stats for Bettez and Chartrand were their scoring streaks. Bettez would open the season by registering at least one point in the first 21 games of the season. Said streak began on November 9, 2013 for Bettez in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Blades and continued until March 2, 2014, a 3-2 triumph against the Toronto Furies.

Ironically, the streak would come to an end against the Boston Blades. The Stars’ March 8 fundraiser for breast cancer would see Bettez left off the score sheet for the first time all season. During her remarkable streak, the Stars enjoyed a sparkling 18 wins, compared to only one regular season loss and two losses in overtime. On three separate occasions, Bettez registered four point performances. She would log two goals and two assists in wins against Brampton (January 12 and February 8), while a hat trick and one assist versus Boston on January 18 represented her finest performance.

Another streak that Bettez put together was eight games with at least one goal. Beginning on January 11 versus Brampton, it would also end against the same club on February 8. Scoring 13 games during the streak, Montreal boasted a 7-0-1 mark, outscoring opponents by a cumulative mark of 43-17.

Similarly, Chartrand would open her season with a 12-game scoring streak. With the Stars enjoying a 10-1-1 mark during Chartrand’s streak, it would set the tone for the season. During the streak, Chartrand’s best performance was a three-point effort on January 12, a 9-2 whitewashing of Brampton.

In the last 11 games of the season, Chartrand would log a point in seven of them. When Chartrand registered a point during that stretch, Montreal boasted a 7-0-0 mark. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Montreal went 8-0-1 when Chartrand scored a goal in regular season play.

Considering how the complexion of the Stars had changed for 2013-14, with the inclusion of eight rookies, the leadership and presence of Bettez and Chartrand was invaluable. As many of the franchise’s original leaders are entering the twilight of their careers, the impact of Bettez and Chartrand not only promises that the strong tradition of winning is secure but it guarantees that the future is in tremendous hands.

Meghan Agosta continues to provide memorable hockey moments on her birthday

Having carved a hockey legacy that is truly Hockey Hall of Fame worthy, one of the crowning achievements in Meghan Agosta’s career are the shining performances she has provided on her birthday. Quickly turning February 12 into a date that is synonymous with women’s hockey lore, Agosta’s legend only grows.

Celebrating a goal against the United States on her 27th birthday at Sochi. Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia Olympic Team

Celebrating a goal against the United States on her 27th birthday at Sochi. Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia Olympic Team

The last three Winter Games competitions (Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010, and Sochi 2014) have all been contested in the month of February, providing Agosta with multiple opportunities to showcase her skills. While each performance on the world’s biggest stage has its own mystique to it, the most memorable is obviously her first.

With the 2006 Torino Winter Games serving as her coming-out party, Agosta would log a hat trick on her 19th birthday. Playing with an expertise and maturity far beyond her years, Torino set the stage for a bright future to come. In a 12-0 victory against Russia, she would score a hat trick. Adding to the jubilation was the fact that the Winter Games were contested in the homeland of her father.

Scoring a first period goal against Nadezhda Aleksandrova of Russia at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. (Image obtained from: http://www.windsorstar.com/Gallery+Meghan+Agosta/1278824/story.html Agosta)

Scoring a first period goal against Nadezhda Aleksandrova of Russia at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. (Image obtained from: http://www.windsorstar.com/Gallery+Meghan+Agosta/1278824/story.html
Agosta)

Of note, the first game for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games came on February 13, one day after Agosta’s 23rd birthday. In an 18-0 victory over Slovakia, Agosta registered a hat trick and two assists.

Heading into the February 12th match (also her 27th birthday) versus the United States at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Agosta wrote what would prove to be the next glorious chapter in the eternal rivalry between Canada and the United States. Despite entering Sochi with a four-game losing streak in exhibition matches versus the US, Agosta scored twice on US backstop Jessie Vetter in the third period for a remarkable 3-2 come from behind victory at Shayba Arena.

Of note, Canada trailed by a 1-0 mark after two periods of play. Agosta’s first goal of the game came on the power play. She would assist on Hayley Wickenheiser’s goal providing Canada with the 2-1 advantage. Agosta would score again for a two goal lead as a US goal from Anne Schleper with less than sixty seconds was not enough.

While an entire generation of hockey fans is accustomed to Agosta proudly representing Canada at the Winter Games, she has also captured the imaginations of fans at the NCAA and CWHL levels.

Competing for the famed Mercyhurst Lakers in Erie, Pennsylvania, Agosta would transform the program into a national power. Playing alongside future national team members such as Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram and Jesse Scanzano, it would prove to be a golden age for the Lakers.

Her junior campaign with the Lakers (2008-09) found her competing against the Robert Morris Colonials on February 13. One day after turning 22, she pummeled the Colonials with a hat trick. During her senior season with the Lakers (2010-11), she would deliver in a contest versus conference rival Syrcause. On the road, the Syracuse Orange faithful would see Agosta deliver a three-point performance on the strength of two assists while she celebrated her 24th birthday.

With the Montreal Stars of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the high-scoring Agosta is the modern-day equivalent of Guy Lafleur in the Montreal hockey conversation. So far, the only CWHL game contested on her birthday came during her rookie season, where she shattered league marks for most points in one season, along with most points by a rookie, respectively.

A road contest on February 12, 2012 against the Brampton Thunder signified Agosta’s landmark 25th birthday. She would contribute a pair of goals complemented by two assists (including one on the power play) for a four-point output in a convincing 5-1 thrashing of the Thunder.

Anytime that Agosta graces the ice, it becomes an opportunity to watch women’s hockey history unfold. For hardcore fans, the next time that Agosta competes on her birthday, there is no question that many fireworks are sure to follow for the greatest player of her generation.

Caroline Ouellette earns honor of serving as Canada’s captain in gold medal defense at Sochi 2014

If one word can describe the Canadian national women’s team journey towards the Sochi Winter Games, it would be change. From having to deal with the release of Tessa Bonhomme and a coaching change midway through camp; Hayley Wickenheiser has been replaced as Canada’s captain.

As Canada looks to defend its gold medal victory from Vancouver 2010, Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette has been bestowed the honor of the captaincy. It is not only a tremendous milestone for Ouellette, but for her club team, the Montreal Stars. It not only marks the first time that a Stars player has been named Team Canada’s captain for the Winter Games, it is also the first time that an active CWHL player has earned the nod.

From a leadership standpoint, Wickenheiser shall remain part of the core as alternate captain. Jayna Hefford and Catherine Ward shall rotate as alternate captains. During the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Hefford, a 17-year veteran with Canada’s national team served as captain when Wickenheiser was unable to play.

While the entire year of 2013 has consisted of peaks and valleys for Canada’s women in hockey – jubilation included Ouellette’s 200th appearance in a Canadian sweater, along with Hefford playing in her 250 game for Canada – to desolation such as Montreal losing the Clarkson Cup to Boston and Canada losing the gold medal on home ice at the IIHF Women’s Worlds for the first time – fans can only hope that Ouellette’s appointment to the captaincy is a sign of consistency to come.

Although Canada and the United States are still head and shoulders above the rest of the competing nations, the reality is that the cap continues to close. An upset of any kind to the likes of Finland or Switzerland is completely unacceptable. Burdening a significant amount of pressure heading into Sochi, Ouellette is more than accustomed to big game situations.

In addition to being a member of the Triple Gold Club (consisting of Winter Games gold, IIHF gold and a Clarkson Cup), she has also won the NCAA Frozen Four championship, a rare grand slam in women’s hockey. Among an elite group of women (including Hefford and Wickenheiser) that have three Winter Games gold medals in ice hockey, Ouellette has carved a remarkable career since debuting with the Canadian team in 2000.

As the third-leading scorer in Canadian history with 238 points, she has symbolized the world-class status of Canada as an elite hockey power. One of the greatest goals in her career was the gold medal winning tally that brought Canada the 2012 IIHF world title, truly testament to her longevity in the game. Her leadership skills on and off the ice, complemented by a love of the game and a humble demeanor, whether it be with the Montreal Stars of the CWHL or the Canadian contingent, make her a highly valued player and teammate.

While the captaincy was truly the only remaining honor left in her storied career (besides nomination in the Hockey Hall of Fame), there is no denying that everyone on Team Canada provides their own type of leadership. Many of the women on the Canadian contingent have served as captains on their own teams in CWHL and NCAA play making the push for a fourth consecutive gold truly a team effort.

As the next stage of the road towards Sochi includes a pre-Winter Games camp in Austria, the reality of Ouellette being appointed Canada’s captain is an opportunity to celebrate her career. Considering Hefford and Wickenheiser are the only other women to have played at least 200 games with Canada, they will certainly be key support for Ouellette as the three compose the best group of captains among all the competing teams in Sochi.

Milestone game for CWHL co-founder Liz Breton as she earns 100th point of her storied Stars career

Having logged career point 99 before the holiday break, Montreal Stars fans eagerly awaited with anticipation as to when Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux would hit the magical century mark. The historic moment would come on January 11 at Arena St. Louis as the Stars continued to extend their stranglehold on first place in the CWHL standings.

With the remarkable rookie crop this season, the opportunities for history during this season seem limitless. For one magical moment in time, a remarkable veteran left her mark on January 11. Fans at Arena St. Louis were treated to a historic game as Breton-Lebreux contributed a goal in a 4-1 victory.

In action against the Brampton Thunder (Photo credit: Marc St. Pierre)

In action against the Brampton Thunder (Photo credit: Marc St. Pierre)

Emmanuelle Blais would open the scoring in the first period as she slipped the puck past Brampton backstop Sonja van der Bliek. Although it would be the only goal of the period, van der Bliek was tested often as she faced 14 shots and four Montreal power plays.

Simply 56 seconds into the second stanza, Ann-Sophie Bettez would add to the Stars lead. Of note, she has scored in every Stars contest since the season began. Blais and Vanessa (Vinny Davidson) would earn the helpers. Although Brampton would be on the penalty kill three times in the stanza, the red and black had managed to keep Breton-Lebreux off the scoreboard.

As the third period opened with Lindsay Vine serving a holding penalty, the Stars would capitalize through one of the most exciting goals of the season. Scoring at the 39 second mark, Breton-Lebreux logged the goal that would see her reach the magical century mark in her storied career. Earning the assists on the historic marker were Sara Dagenais and Carly Hill. To a roar of approval from the fans in attendance, it was a moment of validation, proving that Breton’s efforts in helping to launch the franchise and the league had yielded ground breaking results.

Despite the fact that Brampton would spoil the moment ten seconds later as Sarah Moe snapped Catherine Herron’s bid for a shutout, Montreal was not going to relinquish their lead. Before the period would expire, Blais would contribute her second goal and third point of the game.

With one of the assists credited to Cathy Chartrand, it symbolized a true passing of the torch. As Breton-Lebreux was the first captain in Stars history, and the longest serving in CWHL history, she had selected Chartrand to succeed her as captain prior to the beginning of this season.

For fans of the Montreal Stars, making history has been a predominant theme in Breton-Lebreux’s Hall of Fame worthy career. As the CWHL co-founder and first captain to claim the Clarkson Cup, she has proven to be a remarkable modern day builder for the sport in Montreal.

Along with the remarkable contributions of former coach Patrick Rankine, Breton-Lebreux has transformed the Montreal Stars into the world’s greatest women’s hockey team. With a renaissance of women’s hockey at the university level in Montreal, it has marked a golden era in the game for the hockey mad city and a legacy complemented by Breton’s tireless efforts.

Stars rookie sensation Stacie Tardif exemplifies the spirit of the holidays

For the second consecutive season, the Montreal Stars participated in the Old Brewery Mission’s Christmas party. Joining the worthy cause was former McGill Martlets’ defensive stalwart and current Stars rookie Stacie Tardif. Raised in the Montreal suburb of Ste. Anne de Bellevue, she follows in the long line of homegrown women’s hockey talent that has suited up for the proud Stars franchise.

Founded in 1889, the Old Brewery Mission started as a soup kitchen. Over the decades, the Mission has increased its scope to help the homeless. With a variety of programs and services (including emergency, counseling and housing), the holiday event included the distribution of warm clothes and food.

Joined by Stars volunteer Fiona Robinson, this dynamic duo helped bring comfort and aid to those in need. With an uplifting smile, Tardif made her teammates proud by providing an inspiring speech to those in attendance. Her efforts exemplify how so many in the CWHL believe in giving back to the community, providing off-ice heroics that carry great meaning.

Volunteering at the Old Brewery Mission holiday event (Photo credit: Jess Desjardins)

Volunteering at the Old Brewery Mission holiday event (Photo credit: Jess Desjardins)

Ironically, Tardif almost never suited up for the Stars this season. She was allowed to join Stars training camp after a late draft resignation granted by CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress. Having suited up for the Martlets in seasons’ past with current Stars competitors Ann-Sophie Bettez, Alyssa Cecere, Cathy Chartrand, Vinny Davidson and Carly Hill, she has been a perfect fit for the club.

Having made her CWHL debut on November 9, the Stars have enjoyed a 6-1-1 win-loss mark when she is in the lineup. Having also played for the famed Dawson College program prior to her collegiate and CWHL career, Tardif is a fundamentally sound player who knows what it takes to succeed.

Donning the number 2 that she also wore as a QSSF Second Team All-Star with McGill, her first career point would come in her fourth appearance in a Stars jersey, a 4-0 blanking of the Brampton Thunder. Tardif assisted on the first goal of the game, a power-play marker by Dangerous Dominique Thibault. It would prove to be the first in a game of many milestones as former CIS rival Emilie Bocchia logged her first career goal while Meghan Corley-Byrne registered a shutout in her CWHL debut.

As Tardif works towards providing the Stars with Clarkson Cup redemption after a visceral loss in 2013, she is a hockey humanitarian employing a team-first approach. The maturity and leadership she displayed during the Old Brewery Mission event proves that the Stars have a gem in Tardif.

Red Bull Crashed Ice world champion Fannie Desforges logs first career point in CWHL play

Having established herself as one of the world’s finest competitors in Red Bull Crashed Ice, Fannie Desforges is extending her status as a two-sport star to the frozen perimeter of the CWHL. The Red Bull Crashed Ice world champion in 2012, she would finish the 2013 competition in third place. Ironically, her newest teammate on the Montreal Stars, Dominqiue Thibault, would claim the world title in 2013.

A December 1 road contest against the Brampton Thunder would provide Desforges with an early holiday gift. Earning an assist on Cathy Chartrand’s shorthanded goal, it would be the first point in what will hopefully emerge as the beginning of a storied career.

In action with the Montreal Stars (Photo credit: Marc St. Amour)

In action with the Montreal Stars (Photo credit: Marc St. Amour)

With Marieve Provost serving a penalty for hooking (one of ten total penalties in an unruly second), Desforges and Carly Dupont-Hill set up Chartrand for a short-handed tally at the 18:16 mark of the second stanza. Said goal would provide Montreal with its second lead of the game.

Although Brampton would eventually tie the contest and prevail in a shootout, earning the first point is a milestone in any player’s career. Considering the number of rookies this season, there shall be many more milestones to come. Of note, Desforges will now be aiming for her first career goal in a series with the Calgary Inferno on December 14 and 15.

Selected in the seventh round of the 2013 CWHL Draft, the first assist is a tremendous confidence booster for the dynamic Desforges. Having had a stellar career with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, where she served as captain, her leadership skills shall be essential for a Montreal team looking to redeem itself after a shocking Clarkson Cup loss in March.

Through the first five games of her career, Desforges has provided the red, white and blue with solid disciplined play. Having only served two penalty minutes, her play is complemented by a +2 rating. As the Stars have over 10 rookies on the team, the chemistry should only improve heading into the new year. Should Desforges return to her point per game clip that made her such a competitor in CIS play, it will benefit everyone on the new-look Stars.