The Canadian Women's Hockey League crowned its 2014 playoff champions Saturday in Markham, Ont., as the Toronto Furies downed the defending champion Boston Blades to capture the Clarkson Cup, the first ever title for the Furies.
Toronto's Britni Smith tipped home the game's only goal, 33 seconds into overtime, off a shot by Natalie Spooner.
Smith, Toronto's captain, hoisted the Cup for Furies, moments after scoring the game's winning goal.
The Blades finished the tournament with the top three scorers in Kate Buesser, Hilary Knight and Kelli Stack, but none of the trio could solve Furies goaltender Christina Kessler, who stopped all 25 shots and took home tournament MVP honors.
The three stars of the game were Smith, Kessler, and Blades goaltender Brittany Ott.
The best chance of the scoreless opening frame belonged to Boston forward Kelli Stack, who was in alone against Christina Kessler but failed to beat the Toronto stopper.
In the second period, the game settled into a defensive battle and both goaltenders continued to turn every shot aside. The tilt remained scoreless after two, with the Blades holding a narrow 16-15 edge in shots on goal. This was the first Clarkson Cup final to be scoreless through two periods.
Intensity ramped up in the third period, resulting in an early penalty to Toronto's Tessa Bonhomme. After killing the penalty, the Blades then put the Furies on the PP, but that power play also failed to result in the game's first goal.
The Furies were handed a second straight power play, leading to the game's best chance to that point when Boston's most dangerous player, Hilary Knight, picked off an errant pass and walked in alone on a breakaway, only to be turned away by Kessler.
With 1:46 to play in regulation, the Furies once again found themselves on the power play. To the surprise of no one, time ticked away and the game went into the 10-minute overtime frame with the score still 0-0.
With the puck behind the goal in the early moments of OT, Carolyne Prevost passed the puck out front to a pinching Natalie Spooner, who launched a wrister, tipped in by Smith for the tournament's deciding goal.
THE ROAD TO THE CUP
The sixth annual Clarkson Cup tournament began Wednesday, featuring the four best teams of the five-team league.
On the tournament's opening day, the Toronto Furies edged the Calgary inferno 3-2 on the strength of multi-point games from Tessa Bonhomme, Natalie Spooner and Meagan Aarts.
In the other Wednesday game, the powerhouse Montreal Stars, who finished the regular season a league-best 19-2-2, were shut out 1-0 by the Boston Blades. Kate Buesser had the lone goal, while Brittany Ott made 32 saves for the shutout.
On Thursday, the Blades edged the Furies 2-1 in a preview of the tournament final, with Buesser once again leading the offensive charge.
The other Thursday game saw the Stars down the Inferno 5-4 in a contest that featured the most goals of any in the tournament. Montreal's Caroline Ouellette and Ann-Sophie Bettez collected three points apiece.
The Friday semifinals featured two contrasting results. The Furies needed the shootout to get past the Stars, as the teams were deadlocked after 70 minutes. Toronto goalkeeper Christina Kessler stopped all three Montreal shots, while Spooner scored the game-winner for Toronto, propelling them to the tournament final.
Boston's semifinal tilt was a decisive 6-2 drubbing of Calgary, featuring an outburst of four goals and one assist from Blades star Hilary Knight. Kelli Stack also notched five points, while Buesser picked up four.