By Carter Brooks
Photos by Steve Russell
On Sunday afternoon, the Canadian Women's Hockey League season came to an end.
Two Manitobans Halli Krzyzaniak and Brigette Lacquette, as well as honourary Manitoban Venla Hovi, captured the CWHL's year-end trophy, the Clarkson Cup by a score of 5-2 over the Les Canadiennes de Montreal Sunday.
Following a gutsy come-from-behind semi-final series victory against the Toronto Furies last week, the Inferno finished their best-ever single season as league champion. In going 23-4-1 in 2018-19, Calgary put up its best record since joining the league for the 2011-12 season.
After leading the standings for the majority of the season, Krzyzaniak, Lacquette, Hovi and Co. put the finishing touches on an excellent season by accepting the former Governor of Canada Adrienne Clarkson's trophy, by showcasing their team's depth en route to their second Clarkson Cup in franchise history (2016 also over Les Canadiennes).
Krzyzaniak collected the second goal of the game for Calgary with a perfectly placed point shot that found its way off the post and past Montreal netminder Emerance Maschmeyer in the first period. The Canadiennes battled back from an early two-goal deficit with two goals from Ann-Sophie Bettez, while Calgary countered with a Brianna Decker power play strike in the second frame.
Zoe Hickel and Rebecca Johnston put the cherry on the top for the Inferno in the third period, sealing the deal for Calgary on a 5-2 empty net victory. The Inferno outshot Les Canadiennes 31-27 on Sunday, while limiting Montreal's Hilary Knight to just one assist, while finishing the game a -3.
Calgary's netminder Alex Rigsby continued her stellar rookie campaign, stopping 25 shots in her first Clarkson Cup final action. Like Rigsby, former University of Manitoba star Venla Hovi went all the way in her first CWHL season, putting up four goals ad 14 points in 29 games this season.
Neepawa's Halli Krzyzaniak also collected her first Clarkson Cup championship in her CWHL rookie season. The former UND Fighting Hawks' captain finished the year with five goals and 15 points in 31 games on defence, including the biggest goal of her CWHL career in Sunday's first period.
Joining Krzyzaniak on defence was Mallard's Brigette Lacquette, who finished her fourth CWHL season Sunday evening. It was Lacquette's second Clarkson Cup victory, as she was a member of the 2016 squad that beat these same Canadiennes by a score of 8-3 in Ottawa. The 26-year-old finished the 2018-19 season with three goals and 21 points in 28 games.
With 23 Olympians combined between the two teams, fans at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto were treated to a standout performance. And much like they have done all season, the Calgary Inferno jumped ahead early, and capitalized on their scoring chances, capturing the 2018-19 Clarkson Cup.