Markham Splits Weekend With Montréal

Feature photo by Teri Di-Lauro

Nicole Kosta returned to the lineup for the first time since sustaining an injury in Montréal back in October. Jess Jones also returned after sitting out the last game with an injury.

Game One

You Can Play and PFLAG York Region joined the Thunder for a game celebrating inclusion and the LGBTQ+ community. We were lucky to also have Brad Morris of Grote Industries, the game day sponsor, on hand. Grote has sponsored VIP passes for the Markham Stouffville Stars organization for two seasons, and eight Stars teams were at the rink for this game.

Erica Howe and Emerance Maschmeyer were called upon to mind their nets. The Thunder had chances early as Jess Jones tipped a shot from Megan Bozek, then Kristen Barbara, Laura Stacey and Victoria Bach buzzed around les Canadiennes’ net. Barbara ended up taking the first penalty of the game as she sat for tripping. Howe held the fort and she returned after serving two minutes in the box.

Shortly after, Jamie Lee Rattray entered the zone with the puck off a pass from Bach. Taylor Woods made a beeline to the net, but her shot just missed. Fortunately, the puck bounced off the backboards from behind the net to the other side where Bach was waiting to put it into a yawning net to open the scoring.

Erin Ambrose was called for slashing close to the mid-way mark of the period, but Montréal would kill it off. The period ended without another goal, giving the Thunder the 1-0 lead to start the second.

Bozek went off for slashing, but the Thunder would successfully return to even strength. Marie-Philip Poulin found herself in the box shortly after on a hooking call. Rattray gathered the puck along the boards, made a turn pass at the blue line back down to Bach who moved into the high slot and wristed the puck top shelf on Maschmeyer to widen Markham’s lead to 2-0.

Lauriane Rougeau was next to the sin bin for tripping, and this time Montréal was successful in killing it off. Ambrose would cut Markham’s lead in half with the assist coming from Melanie Desrochers. The period would end with 4-on-4 action as Jocelyne Larocque and Katia Clement-Heydra were given coincidental roughing minors.

The third started off with lots of puck movement. At the halfway mark, Poulin body checked Jenna McParland into the boards. On the ensuing power play, the Thunder put intense pressure on les Canadiennes, but the score remained the same. With the clock winding down, Montréal pulled Maschmeyer for the extra attacker when Larocque was called for body checking, giving them a 6-on-4 opportunity. Poulin would wind up and take a shot, but Stacey would lay down to block the shot. As she tried to get up, Poulin fired another shot, this time hitting Bozek who went down and became tangled up with Stacey. A final shot attempt from Poulin would be met by Kristen Richards as time expired and the Thunder bench cleared to meet their fearless teammates.
Watch the game highlights here:

Game Two

Liz Knox and Genevieve Lacasse would get the call for their teams in net for the outreach game in Bowmanville, Ontario. Montréal was hungry after Markham handed them their first regulation loss since November 25, 2018, and they came out buzzing. Karell Emard opened the scoring a few minutes in with the helper going to Clement-Heydra. Knox would make a great trapper save from a difficult angle before Jillian Saulnier roofed one, assisted by Ann-Sophie Bettez and Poulin, to take a 2-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.

The Thunder took their time out to settle down, and Rattray and Bach had a good chance on Lacasse. Markham received back-to-back power play opportunities as Emard was cited for slashing, and Poulin went off for high sticking after a collision with Richards. The Thunder could not score on the advantage, but they ended the period with a couple of great scoring chances. Laura Fortino got the puck to Stacey who rifled it just high, and then Bozek had a blast from the point that Stacey tipped, but Lacasse was able to get her glove on it.

Knox started the period with a great save, but thing became tense in the arena when Stacey was sent to the ice and was down for a bit. She went to the locker room without assistance, and would return before the end of the period. Saulnier got the puck to Poulin who put it behind Knox to take a 3-0 lead, and Saulnier would pot her second of the game from Poulin and Bettez four minutes later. Markham head coach Jim Jackson would make the call to put Howe in net. Before the end of the frame, Brooke Webster, Kristen Barbara and McParland had a good cycle down low in Montréal’s end, but could not find the net.

The third period opened with a great shoulder save from Howe on Hilary Knight, but Bach would be caught for high sticking with just over a minute gone off the clock. Becca King would make the play of the penalty kill at the blue line, poking the puck out of the zone while lying on the ice. Ten seconds after Bach returned, she would get the puck to Stacey who finally got the Thunder on the scoresheet!

Markham picked up a second wind after the goal, and started applying consistent pressure on les Canadiennes. Rattray and Bach both had good individual efforts, then Kelly Gribbons, King and Webster almost converted. Unfortunately, Saulnier would pot her third goal of the game assisted by Melanie Desrochers. Less than a minute later, Bach would net Markham’s second goal of the game with the help of Bozek and Larocque. Saulnier would add to her goal total on the game with her fourth – and Montréal’s sixth – coming with 30 seconds left in the game, assisted by Bettez and Poulin.