MONTREAL -- If the Ottawa Raiders are going to keep their playoff hopes alive tonight, they are going to have to find a way to control Axion defenceman Angela Ruggiero. The big U.S. Olympian scored the winner and assisted on another goal as the Axion won the opening game of their best-of-three National Women's Hockey League series 4-3 at the Etienne Desmarteau Arena last night.
The Raiders must win tonight back in Ottawa (6:30, Barbara Ann Scott Arena).
Ruggiero swept through the neutral zone, cut over the Ottawa blue line and blasted a low shot by Raiders netminder Robin Rittmaster at 12:03 of the third period for the winner.
"They played well. I'm proud of them. They have to do it again and give a little extra (tonight)," said Raiders coach Jean Vaillancourt. "Montreal's been the monkey on our back all year."
The Raiders showed some character, three times fighting back from one-goal deficits, but their difficulties in their own zone, brought on by a couple of long shifts, caught up with them. After tying the game 2-2 on Rickie-Lee Doyle's conversion of her own rebound -- she also added two assists on the night -- with 30 seconds left in the period, the Raiders allowed Montreal to grab the lead with just 4.7 seconds left in the period.
Montreal's Lisa-Marie Breton swept home a loose puck after a shot by Ruggiero, who played a game in the Central Hockey League earlier this year.