The Boston Blades are your 2014-15 Clarkson Cup champions, winning in overtime against the Montreal Stars on Saturday to claim their second title in three Canadian Women’s Hockey League seasons.
Because, really, it had been about 20 minutes since a Boston team won a championship …
Janine Weber, a forward born in Austria who previously played at Providence College, had the game-winning snipe at 2:12 of overtime past goalie Charline Labonte, on assists from Tara Watchorn and Corinne Buie.
The teams traded goals in the first and third periods, with Ann-Sophie Bettez and Hilary Knight scoring for the Stars and Blades in the opening frame, followed by Brianna Decker – the team’s leading scorer in the regular season – for the Blades at 6:17 of the third and then Emmanuelle Blais at 9:54.The championship game was held in Markham, Ontario.
The CWHL was founded in 2007, and the Blades became the second U.S. team to win the Clarkson Cup in 2013. Their current roster is peppered with familiar names from the U.S. women’s national team: Knight, Decker, and Monique Larmoureux.
The five-team league was given added attention in the U.S. due to that star power, and due to Boston’s championship run. The New York Times recently chronicled the plight of the players, who practically play for free:
Stars like Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker, who a year ago played in the classic Olympic final against Canada, earn training stipends as members of the United States national team, have sponsorships and do not need part-time jobs to supplement their income. But most of their teammates have to buy their own sticks and skates. After games, all the players wash their own gear at home.
The players are cognizant of the locker room dichotomy. Knight said she tried to help supply a teammate if a stick broke. Decker said she respected the extra effort of her less heralded cohorts, like Jillian Dempsey, who wakes up at 5:15 a.m. to prepare for her job as a second-grade teacher. “I give them more credit than myself,” Decker said.
After the win, the Blades skated the Cup for the second time in three years, champions of a league that is slowly creeping onto the radar for hockey fans.
They might not get the duck-boat parade that the Bruins and Patriots received back home. But hopefully the NHL understands the value of this venture, and gives Boston and Montreal a part in the Winter Classic celebration between the Bruins and Canadiens later this year. Because that would be awesome.