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Stars down Whitecaps to capture Clarkson Cup

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TSN.ca Staff
3/21/2009 10:19:37 PM
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KINGSTON, Ont. - The Clarkson Cup was created for the champion of Canadian women's hockey.

Thanks to the Montreal Stars, the trophy ended up in the hands of a Canadian team in its inaugural presentation.

With the cup finally up for grabs for the first time, former Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson presented it to the Stars, who beat the Minnesota Whitecaps 3-1 in the final of the Scotiabank National Canadian Women's Championship at the K-Rock Centre on Saturday.

Almost five years after she said women should play for the Stanley Cup with the men being out during the NHL lockout, Clarkson handed the trophy to Stars captain Lisa-Marie Breton.

"We are really happy to win the Clarkson Cup for the first time ever," Breton said. "It's something we'll remember forever."

Shauna Denis, Sabrina Herbec and Caroline Ouellette scored for the Stars, while three-time American Olympian Angela Ruggiero replied for the Whitecaps.

Clarkson dedicated the trophy to a national women's championship in 2006, but the cup got caught up in a licensing dispute with the artists she had commissioned to create it. A financial settlement was reached earlier this month.

"This is about encouraging excellence in women's hockey," Clarkson said. "It's very important. It's just the right timing and I feel there is something magical about it.

"It's a wonderful legacy to have - the Clarkson Cup for women's hockey. I'm absolutely thrilled about it."

Along with the licensing dispute, Clarkson had to wait for women's hockey leagues to stop squabbling.

Club hockey in the country has had a troubled history with the Western Women's Hockey League teams breaking away from the National Women's Hockey League in 2004 before the latter league suspended operations in 2007. The player-run Canadian Women's Hockey League formed after the collapse of the NWHL.

"I did imagine it would take a while because the leagues weren't organized at all," Clarkson said. "It takes a long time to organize a league and get people all onside to do it together. It isn't like having a professional team where an owner says I'm going to start a team and they hire people and they can go scouting and do things.

"When it's all done by goodwill, volunteerism and by amateur people, it's bound to take about five times as long."

The Stars, the top team in the CWHL, lost 4-3 in overtime to WWHL champion Minnesota in the tournament opener Thursday, but exacted revenge in the bigger contest Saturday.

Montreal, which beat the Brampton Thunder 4-1 in semifinal play, broke a 1-1 tie in the final with less than five minutes to go in the second period when Herbec banged a rebound past Minnesota goalie Sanya Sandahl.

A former finalist for the U.S. college player of the year award at St. Lawrence University, Herbec was the most dangerous player on the ice Saturday. She finished fifth in the Canadian Women's Hockey League scoring race this season.

"I'll tell my grandkids about this," said Herbec, who turned 24 on Friday. "I'll say, `It was amazing, it was a great weekend, we played our best hockey ever and won that cup."

Ouellette gave the Stars some insurance when she took a pass from 17-year-old phenom Marie-Philip Poulin and beat Sandahl to put Montreal ahead 3-1 less than two minutes into the third.

After a scoreless first period, Denis opened the scoring just past the midway mark of the second period when she completed a nice passing play, taking a good feed from Herbec near the crease.

Less than five minutes later, Ruggiero tied it, going to her backhand in close to put a good shot over Montreal star goalie Kim St-Pierre.

Notes: A small group of protestors from Resist 2010 - an organization against the 2010 Vancouver Olympics because of land, environmental and social issues - banged drums and chanted outside the arena ... Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, a longtime supporter of women's hockey, and House of Commons speaker Peter Milliken, the member of parliament for the Kingston area, attended the game ... Kingston-born national team star Jayna Hefford of the Thunder received a nice ovation in the second intermission when she was presented with the Angela James Bowl as the top scorer in the CWHL this season.

Montreal Stars win Clarkson Cup (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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