Boston, Montreal set to clash in CWHL’s Clarkson Cup final

Jared Clinton
Montreal's Julie Chu will look  to add the 2014-15 Clarkson Cup to her trophy case this weekend. (photo by Jess Desjardins/CWHL)

The intense hockey rivalry between Boston and Montreal is set to grow Saturday afternoon when the CWHL’s Boston Blades take on the Montreal Stars in the Clarkson Cup final.

Boston, led by its high-powered offense, will take on a Montreal squad that has yet to surrender a goal in the Clarkson Cup playoffs thanks to the steady goaltending of Charline Labonte.

Labonte, 32, stopped all 62 shots that came her way in Montreal’s back-to-back shutout wins over the second-seeded Calgary Infernos. Calgary, which came into the playoffs after finishing four points ahead of the Stars in the standings, went down in two straight games, losing 4-0 and 2-0 to Montreal. Read more

CWHL MVP Rebecca Johnston has had a brilliant past, awaits brighter future

Rebecca Johnston (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Her pal Tessa Bonhomme likes to refer to Rebecca Johnston as, “a defenseman’s worst nightmare.” And if this season was any indication, it’s only going to get worse.

That’s because Johnston, who already has two Olympic gold medals around her neck, is about the closest thing you can be to a professional in women’s hockey. Her decision to move full-time to Calgary this season was made on the premise that she would only get better being so close to Hockey Canada’s headquarters and all the training facilities it has to offer women’s players. By day, she works part-time for an insurance company, but aside from that it’s all training and playing. Whether it’s Hockey Canada skills sessions or practices with the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, there aren’t many days when Johnston isn’t on the ice. Read more

Hayley Wickenheiser reflects on the loss of Steve Montador

The Hockey News
Hayley Wickenheiser  (Photo by Phillip Chin/WireImage)

By Hayley Wickenheiser

The last few days have almost felt like a fog, a total blur in so many ways. On Saturday, we said our final goodbyes to our good friend, Steve Montador. I truly believe in my heart that he is finally at peace, he certainly looked that way to many of us who paid our respects.

I have lost a few friends at a very young age, mostly tragic accidents or terminal illnesses. Steve’s death doesn’t really fit either criteria. It also hits home much more because our lifestyles were very similar. We have both played a game we have known and loved for our entire lives. The only difference is that Steve’s career ended before mine did and he was left facing the challenges of moving on and coping sooner. Read more

Toronto girls’ hockey league’s new no-touch policy between players & coaches source of great debate

Adam Proteau
Girls from the Leaside Girls Hockey Association at Toronto City council in 2009. 
(Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

In news that will be welcome to some and troubling to others, a Toronto girls’ hockey league issued an edict to coaches this week that forbids them to touch players on the bench.

On the heels of a complaint to the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association, the league sent coaches an email informing them of the new, zero-tolerance policy on contact with players. The new guidelines also include a ban on social media interactions, and restrictions on when men are permitted to be in dressing rooms and email communication. But the outcry over the email mostly concerns the new rules regarding contact.

“(U)nder no circumstances should there be contact with the players, in any way,” said the directive from John Reynolds, head of the house league. “Putting hands on shoulders, slapping butts, tapping them on the helmet, NOTHING, this can make some of the girls uncomfortable and you won’t know which ones, so no contact, period.” Read more

Women’s hockey fight: Monique Lamoureux vs. Jamie Lee Rattray

Ryan Kennedy
Monique Lamoureux (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The rivalry between Team USA and Team Canada is toxic in women’s hockey despite the fact some of these players are on the same squads in the Canadian Women’s League. So it seems rather appropriate that when a fight broke out in Sunday’s game between Boston and Brampton, the two combatants came from opposite ends of the 49th parallel.

Watch as Boston’s Monique Lamoureux (white jersey) and Brampton’s Jamie Lee Rattray throw down:

Read more

The fight to sell women’s hockey: Can the CWHL become the WNBA?

Matt Larkin
Montreal's Julie Chu will look  to add the 2014-15 Clarkson Cup to her trophy case this weekend. (photo by Jess Desjardins/CWHL)

People close to 
Julie Chu consider her superhuman. But you’d have to forgive her if you spotted bags under her eyes in winter 2013. It was a non-Olympic year, so Chu, one of Team USA’s most decorated forwards ever, worked as an assistant coach with Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., as a day job. She gave instruction wearing full equipment so she could squeeze daily workouts in simultaneously. She stayed with the team from Monday to Saturday, including game nights, which were typically Friday and Saturday. Her rest and recreation after a game consisted of hopping in her car and driving to Montreal (215 miles), Toronto (367 miles) or Boston (186 miles), depending on where her Canadian Women’s League team competed that weekend. She’d arrive to join it late – often at 2 a.m. or so. She’d get what sleep she could and play in the Montreal Stars’ game the next day. After that? Back in the car. Back to Eastern New York to get ready for work Monday. Rinse, repeat.

It’s not quite the glamorous life you’d picture for a Harvard graduate who finished her amateur career as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, was her country’s flag bearer at the end of the 2014 Sochi Games and donates oodles of money to buy hockey equipment for children of military members. Yet Chu’s story paints an accurate picture of everyday life for elite female hockey players – and she’s one of the lucky ones. She’s been fortunate enough to find work in the sport when she’s not competing. Still, she can’t get paid to play the game professionally. No CWHL players can. They’re forced to work other jobs, yet they’re expected to perform at the peak of their abilities on game day. They’re attempting to attract interest, sponsors and enthusiasm while playing the sport with one hand tied behind their collective back.

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Top 10 players of 2014: Game’s brightest shine in Olympic year

Sidney Crosby

Whether the NHL participates in the 2018 Olympics or not, it will forever be hard to top the talent seen in both the 2010 and 2014 games. Not only was the men’s game showcased on one of the brightest stages, the women’s game provided some incredible drama in the medal round.

As such, there is a pair of women on this year’s top 10 players. There are also appearances from a few future stars. One member of this list did outstanding things before becoming a pro, and is already making his mark on the NHL in his rookie season, while others are breaking out or remaining at the top of their games. Read more

Top 10 shootout goals of 2014: Gagner’s hands reign supreme

Sam Gagner shootout winner

There’s speculation that the 2014-15 season may be the final year in which the shootout is a big part of regular season NHL contests.

With a push coming for extending overtime in order to eliminate the need for the shootout, it’s going to make the shootout specialist a lot less common and, in turn, could make top 10 lists such as this extinct in the future.

So, while we still can, here are the top 10 shootout goals of 2014: Read more