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Goal with 19 seconds remaining lifts Force past Whale

Connecticut’s Kennedy Marchment had two goals Saturday but the Whale dropped a 5-4 decision to the Montreal Force in Pittsburgh.

Montreal’s Brooke Stacey had her stick in the right place to help the Montreal Force beat the Connecticut Whale Saturday, 5-4 at the UMPC Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh.

Stacey’s goal with 19 seconds left in regulation snapped a 4-4 tie to lift the Force to the victory. Brigitte Laganiere put the puck on net and it deflected off Stacey’s stick past Whale goalie Meeri Räisänen.

It was a disappointing end for Connecticut, which led the entire game. The Force battled back to tie the game four times but the Whale (4-5-1) had a 4-3 lead early in the third period after Kennedy Marchment’s second goal of the season just 59 seconds into the final period.

Montreal (5-5-1) tied the game at 4-4 when Ann Sophie Bettez scored her third goal of the game of an assist from Jade Downie-Landry with 15:29 left in the game. The Whale turned the puck over resulting in a 2-on-1 rush by the Force to tie the game.

The game was tied 2-2 after one period with the Whale getting goals from Kateřina Mrázová and Melissa Samoskevich. Marchment got a goal in the second period for Connecticut.

Räisänen who pitched a shutout in last weekend’s 6-0 win over Boston, made 32 saves in net.

The Whale wore jerseys that honored the Pittsburgh Pennies, a women’s professional hockey team that was founded in 1972. Six of the original Pittsburgh Pennies attended the game and participated in a ceremonial puck drop.

One of the earliest, if not the first, organized team for girls and women in western Pennslyvania, the Pennies grew from five players to a roster of almost 30 in the first two years. The team traveled to Canada, Buffalo, and Philadelphia for games or sometimes played boy’s high school teams for competition. From this beginning, girl’s and women’s hockey has expanded in western Pennsylvania.

“When the Pennies took to the ice in the 1970s they opened a door to the women competing today, demonstrating the talent, tenacity, and spirit necessary to sustain and build the sport of competitive hockey for all,” said Anne Madarasz, the director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum and chief historian of the Heinz History Center.

The Lemieux Sports Center is the primary practice facility for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh and UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex are hosting their fourth PHF event following the 2017 All-Star Game and a pair of neutral site events in 2018.

Both of the PHF’s previous neutral site games in Pittsburgh featured Connecticut. The Whale played Buffalo and lost 4-3 on this day, Jan. 14, 2018, then beat the Riveters 4-2 on Dec. 2, 2018. Captain Shannon Turner scored a goal and an assist in that game, Kateřina Mrázová scored a goal, and Meeri Räisänen recorded her first career shutout with a 31-save performance. The Finnish netminder is also familiar with the area having spent the 2010-11 season at Robert Morris University.

The Whale return to action quickly. They host Buffalo in Milford on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before returning to Simsbury and the International Skating Center of Connecticut on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Buffalo. The two games were originally scheduled to be played in November but were postponed due to a snowstorm in Buffalo.

Montreal 5, Connecticut 4
At Pittsburgh
Montreal (5-5-1)             2  1  2  — 5
Connecticut (4-5-1)        2  1  1  — 4
First period
Connecticut 1, Kateřina Mrázová (Justine Reyes), 3:46; Montreal 1, Ann-Sophie Bettez, 5:44 (pp), Connecticut 2, Melissa Samoskevich (Allie Munroe, Alyssa Wohlfeiler), 7:27 (pp), Montreal 2 (Samantha Isbell (Christine Deaudeilin, Taylor Baker), 10:03; Penalties: Emma Keenan (CT), body checking, 5:18; Catherine Daoust (M) cross checking, 7:05; Katerina Mrazova (CT) body checking, 17:31
Second period
Connecticut 3, Kennedy Marchment (Caitrin Lonegran, Taylor Girard), 7:57; Montreal 3, Ann Sophie Bettez (Samantha Isabell, Brigitte Laganiere), 12:13; Penalties — None
Third period
Connecticut 4, Kennedy Marchment (Caitrin Lonergan) 00:59, Montreal 4, Ann Sophie Bettez (Jade-Downie-Landry), 4:31; Montreal 5, Brooke Stacey (Brigitte Laganiere, Deziray DeSousa), 19:41; Penalties: Kristina Shanahan (M) tripping, 2:14; Taylor Baker (M), tripping, 11:06
Shots: Connecticut 32 (11-9-12), Montreal 37 (12-17-8); Power plays: Connecticut 1-3, Montreal 1-2; Saves: Marie Soleil Deschenes (M), 28 saves; Meeri Räisänen (CT) 32 saves

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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