While the NHL lockout rolls into the middle of October, Canadiens fans have been searching out other hockey, which has turned some attention to the farm club in Hamilton, the QMJHL and even locally to the CWHL Stars, as hockey continues to thrive at all levels.
The Bulldogs opened up their home schedule in front of a sold out Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on Friday night taking on their Ontario rivals from down the QEW in Toronto. General Manager Marc Bergevin stated that the Marlies serve as a bit of a measuring stick for Hamilton as last year's Calder Cup Finalists return with an experienced club in the North Division.
8,819 fans saw Louis Leblanc net a pair of goals with Aaron Paulshaj adding another in a 4-1 victory for the Bulldogs. Jared Tinordi also picked up his first professional point.
Saturday night was the rematch in Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum before a near capacity crowd of 7,618. This time it was the Marlies that dominated the game.
A concern for Hamilton was the loss of Leblanc midway through the second period. He was tangled up in the corner with Jesse Blacker of the Marlies, and then left the game.
The Bulldogs will host the Marlies again in another early season provincial tilt this Friday at Copps.
This past Saturday, Canadiens forward Travis Moen was a guest on the Habs This Week show on TSN 690 in Montreal. It had been a while since fans had heard from Moen, who missed the end of last season with an injury.
Moen declared himself 100 per cent healthy, and that he enjoyed a good summer of workouts and training and was fit and ready to roll for the opening of training camp, had it happened on time.
He also was not shy about expressing his excitement on the Canadiens roster moves this summer, including the additions of Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong and Francis Bouillon. Moen believes the Canadiens feature one of the best goalies in the NHL, and that the team believes in itself and are anxious to prove that last season's 15th place finish in the Eastern Conference was an anomaly.
And while he admits to enjoying the extra time at home with his family right now and the charity tournament he's part of, it's no surprise when every player gets a little squirrelly wanting to get back to work.
With the NHL lockout ongoing, hockey fans in Montreal have been setting their sights elsewhere to get their fix. And one team that has garnered some attention in the city is the Montreal Stars of the Canadian Women's Hockey League.
The Stars are back-to-back Clarkson Cup champions, and kicked off their CWHL season this past weekend with a two game set against the Boston Blades at Arena Etienne-Desmarteau, on the ice surface named after Caroline Ouellette.
The crowd was one of the larger sizes the team as seen, as attendance continues to grow across the league, especially in Montreal. And fans were treated to a high skill, fast paced, entertaining game. With 25 National team and/or Olympic members for both Canada and the USA on the rosters, it shows how not only the sports of women's hockey has grown, but also how the CWHL continues to grow with it in both talent level and notoriety.
With ticket prices at $10 and kids under 12 free, it's catching on as a popular affordable family event to come see the Olympians up close, while getting an early look at who will be the future stars of the sport. Every post-game, the players from both teams come out right away for autographs and photos, providing kids a chance to meet the players up close and personal.
The latest issue of The Hockey News is another great example, with a feature on women's hockey and the CWHL with Tessa Bonhomme and Meghan Agosta on the cover, both players in the CWHL for Toronto and Montreal.
On Saturday, the Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Sarah Dagenais, a graduate of North Dakota, and Agosta. Rookie Ann-Sophie Bettez also earned her first CWHL point, coming from McGill as the Martlets all-time scoring leader. Karen Thatcher got Boston on the board in the third period before Kacey Bellamy, both US Olympians, tied the game with 42 seconds left.
Charlene Labonte and Molly Schaus kept it close with big stops at both ends of the ice, before Caroline Ouellette scored the only goal in the shootout to give Montreal the 3-2 win.
The rematch on Sunday went in Boston's favour as another US Olympian Hillary Knight scored a pair of goals, spoiling the return of Kim St-Pierre to the Montreal net, as part of a 4-1 Blades win. St-Pierre missed all last season for the birth of her first child. Meghan Duggan (USA Olympian) and Thatcher had the other goals, while the lone Canadian National team member on Boston Genevieve Lacasse earned the win in goal. Noemie Marin had the only Montreal goal.
The Stars next home game is Saturday November 17, when they'll host their annual charity game in support of the Breast Cancer Foundation of Quebec.
The QMJHL continues to try and attract hockey fans across the province, and fans of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada will be treated to a bonus this season. The Armada has been off to a solid 9-2-0-2 start this year, which has them third overall in the league. The team will also play host to the CHL Subway Super Series on November 5 at Centre d'Excellence Sports Rousseau in Boisbriand. The game features an all-star QMJHL squad against the Russians. Val-d'Or will host the other game of the Quebec leg of the series on November 7.
Meanwhile, the Armada will hold their weekend to support the Breast Cancer Foundation of Quebec, as they host Moncton on Friday night and Acadie-Bathurst on Saturday night.
And finally it was a special Sunday in Shawinigan for TSN 690 hockey analyst and former Canadiens forward Sergio Momesso, who was honoured by the Cataractes by having his number 9 retired to the rafters at the Centre Bionest.
With his family in attendance, the ceremony featured a video tribute and some former teammates in attendance including Stephane Lebeau.
In 202 games with Shawinigan, Momesso notched 125 goals, 345 points and 544 penalty minutes.