Montreal takes Clarkson Cup

STEPHEN SWEET, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

BARRIE, Ont. -- The best team all year never stopped working.

A strong effort combined with plenty of talent saw the Montreal Hockey Club run the table at the Clarkson Cup, presented by Scotiabank, after defeating the Toronto Hockey Club 5-0 in the final on Sunday.

It was a complete game for Montreal, as they outplayed Toronto for most of the afternoon.

"The way we came together was great," said Montreal goaltender Kim St-Pierre, who stopped 26 shots for the shutout.

"We knew that if we could play 60 minutes of good hockey, no one could beat us."

Montreal were hardly touchable all tournament, edging Toronto in a relatively meaningless game Saturday, but displaying loads of talent in convincing wins over Minnesota and Brampton.

It was consistent with the campaign they've had, losing just two games in regulation over the course of the year.

"All season we've used each other's strengths and experience to our advantage," said Montreal forward Noémie Marin.

"We all have different backgrounds and we used that to help us during the season and the Clarkson Cup."

Toronto goaltender Sami Jo Small kept her team in the game for as long as she could thanks to some heart-stopping saves, including robbing Montreal's leading goal-scorer and tournament MVP Sarah Vaillancourt on multiple occasions.

The Toronto goaltender and former gold-medal winner stopped 46 shots on the game, but in the end, her team couldn't complete the unlikely finish.

"I so badly wanted the storybook ending for our team," Small said. "We wanted to do it for Jennifer (Botterill, who is considering retirement), but they were just clearly the better team today."

Though they were the overachieving underdogs, needing to win two games in Boston earlier this month just to qualify for the tournament, Toronto just couldn't keep up with its opponent Sunday.

"The Montreal team came out with everything they had, and they really deserved to win today," Small said.

They finished off their scoring in the third period, when Vaillancourt finally got one through Small, after holding the puck for several seconds untouched, just outside the Toronto crease.

Montreal were already in the driver's seat by that point thanks to Caroline Ouellette's goal earlier in the third period, a bullet from the right face-off circle past Small, who faced 146 shots over her three Clarkson Cup contests this weekend.

Although Toronto came out stronger in the second period, they couldn't beat St-Pierre, and fell behind 3-0 when Dominique Thibault's deke in front of the net caused Small to flip upside down in an attempt to stop the puck.

Thibault waited until she could fire the puck top shelf, beating the Toronto netminder and giving Montreal a three-goal lead.

"Montreal's such a classy team, so it's hard to really hate them," Small said. "They're really good people.

"So when someone like Thibault scores an amazing goal that's going to be on (TV highlights) that you're on the wrong side of, you're still almost happy for them."

Angela Di Stasi had Toronto's best scoring chance through two periods, but her one-timed shot was turned aside by St-Pierre.

Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 advantage through the first 20 minutes, after outshooting Toronto 19-7.

Marin opened the scoring for Montreal when she broke down the right wing before slipping a puck between Small and the post.

"We wanted to get on the board quickly to set the tone," Marin said. "I got a nice pass from Caroline and drove from the outside and luckily, was able to chip it in."

Seven minutes later, Vanessa Davidson added to Montreal's lead, after some sustained pressure saw her cut into the high slot and fire a shot off of a Toronto defender's stick and in.

Although Toronto didn't get the ending that they'd hoped for, they were pleased with the way the event was put on.

"What the City of Barrie has done (with this weekend) was incredible for our sport," Small said. "They really got behind women's hockey and jumped on the bandwagon.

"We only came to Barrie about a month and a half ago, and they got it all put together in no time at all."


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