Britni Smith’s overtime winner gives Toronto Furies first Clarkson Cup title
MARKHAM, On. -- Goaltending was the story at the Clarkson Cup final as the Toronto Furies defeated the Boston Blades in overtime by a score of 1-0 to win their first league title.
Britni Smith scored the winner on a rebound 33 seconds into the extra frame. It was her first goal of the tournament.
Christina Kessler made 25 saves for the shutout. She was also named the most valuable player in the Clarkson Cup.
Late in the third period, while Boston was shorthanded, Knight broke in on a breakaway only to be foiled by the glove of Kessler. The crowd which was mostly made up of Furies supporters exploded with applause and cheering. The Furies may look back on that moment as the turning point in the game.
“I think that Hilary Knight has one of the toughest break away moves because she has so many options,” said veteran goaltender Sami Jo Small. “It showed that (Kessler) was really on her game. It was an incredible save at an opportune moment.”
Small is a CWHL co-founder and is the all-time winningest goaltender in league history.
It was the first time Toronto (3-1) and Boston (3-1) met in the final and the game was closely contested throughout.
Kessler, having frustrated the Montreal Stars through 70 minutes and a shootout Friday morning, was the difference for Toronto.
But perhaps unsurprisingly, she went out of her way to credit her teammates with the victory. She spoke about Brooke Beazer who went to the hospital Friday after a blocked shot and about Sami Jo Small, her partner in goal
“Those kinds of efforts go along way,” said Kessler of Beazer. “I’m very thankful to have players like that on our team.”
“Sami’s more part of this team than anyone else,” she said of her roommate on the road. “I not only see her as a teammate but as a close friend. She was a large part of the (Clarkson Cup win).”
“We know she’s tough,” said Small of Beazer. “We knew she was going to play. She is one of the gutsiest players I’ve ever played with.”
After her final game Friday, Calgary Inferno goaltender, Kathy Desjardins, had some kind words for her Toronto counterpart.
“She has a lot of skills,” she said.
Goaltender Brittany Ott made 23 saves in the loss.
Boston went undefeated through the round-robin tournament, going 3-0 and allowing just three goals through its first three games. The overtime winner was just the fourth.
Toronto upset the favourite Montreal Stars Friday morning in a tightly contested game that was decided by shootout.
Hilary Knight, having scored four goals the night before, was held off the score sheet.
Kevin Dineen, the head coach of the gold medal-winning women’s team in Sochi, came to watch the final and commented on the Furies-Blades final and the state of women’s hockey. Dineen has recently been named head coach of Canada’s men’s Under-18 team.
“I’m impressed,” he said of the first period. “It’s exactly what I would have expected.”
Adrienne Clarkson, the Cup’s namesake, appeared to drop the puck in the opening ceremony. She also handed off the Clarkson Cup trophy to the team minutes after their dramatic victory.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Sami Jo Small. “Today, for me, it’s just about being a player. I’ve been through all the trials and tribulations. To see Adrienne Clarkson presenting the Cup, it was just incredible.”
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