Goaltender Charline Labonté made 21 saves to register her second shutout in as many games as her Stars defeated the Toronto Furies 2-0 in Thursday night Clarkson Cup action at the Centennial Community Centre in Markham, Ont.
The gold medal-winning Olympian netminder was not tested as often as her Toronto counterpart, but maintained focus to make some big saves for her team.
“As a goalie you want to get as many shots as possible, that's how you stay in the game,” Labonté said after the match. “But, I just really focused on the puck and tried to track it everywhere it went, even if it's in the other zone.”
“I do all of my movements even if I don't get a shot. I try to stay involved and play the puck outside of my net as much as possible to keep myself in the game.”
The aforementioned goalie counterpart, Christina Kessler, stopped 44 of 46 shots in the Furies' losing effort but was prepared for the workload.
“Knowing the way Montreal plays is a mental thing,” Kessler said. “You go into the game knowing you're going to get a lot of shots. Preparation in advance is key to the game.”
Stars forward Sarah Vaillancourt was the first to beat Kessler at 9:39 of the first period to make it 1-0 following a span of sustained Montreal pressure.
The fast skating Stars would continue their assault on the Furies zone for most of the one-goal game – including a disallowed goal due to a high stick – until Vanessa Davidson put the Stars ahead 2-0 with 4:38 left in the game.
The Furies pulled Kessler for the last two minutes of the game to gain an extra attacker, but to no avail.
The win puts the Montreal Stars in Saturday's championship against the Boston Blades, despite still having a final round robin game against the Blades on Friday.
Even with a spot in the finals locked up, Stars coach Philippe Trahan insisted the approach to the last round robin game won't change.
“Every game is a must win,” Trahan said. “It's good for the mentality, but the approach won't necessarily be different. I might play some players more than in the first two games to rest my top players.”
“It's a good time to scout Boston, but we've already played them six times (this season), so there isn't much that will be different. It's just a last rehearsal before the big show”. The big show between the Montreal Stars and the Boston Blades will be Saturday at p.m. ET, and the prelude to that will be Friday at 11 a.m., as the two teams complete the round robin against each other.
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