(Feb. 26, 2018)
With only two weekends remaining in the regular season the CWHL Clarkson Cup playoff picture remains wide open as five teams vie for four semifinal positions and home-ice advantage. Four of those five teams were in action this past weekend.
Overseas, the Rays did their part in the race with the Thunder by defeating the visiting Les Canadiennes. This matchup marks the final overseas trip for the CWHL’s North American teams and the final home-series for the China-based club as they will end their season with two-games versus their Kunlun counterparts in Boston. Needing every point they can get to secure playoffs in their first season in the CWHL, Vanke looked to take advantage of a travel-weary Montréal squad. With goals from rookie Tracy-Ann Lavigne and veteran Noémie Marin, it appeared Les Canadiennes were capable of withstanding the Rays attack. However, exhaustion was evident in the third and the home team picked up a game-tying marker from scoring leader Cayley Mercer before a game-winner from Harbin, China native Xin Fang. Montréal were able to redeem themselves the following day thanks in part to a 17-save shutout performance from starting goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. With the shutout, Maschmeyer now sits in a tie for first place in the CWHL with Kunlun Red Star goaltender and 2018 Olympic bronze-medalist Noora Räty for most shutouts this season (5). Much like the battle for fourth, every point will be critical for Les Canadiennes as they chase first place, home-ice advantage, and the Chairman’s Trophy as regular season champions.