Image courtesy Les Canadiennes
Following the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, the CWHL are excited to confirm the return of seven Olympic medalists to CWHL teams this season including Team USA gold medalist Hilary Knight; Team Canada silver medalists Laura Fortino, Laura Stacey, Jocelyne Larocque, Brianne Jenner and Blayre Turnbull; and Team Finland bronze medalist Noora Räty.
On Thursday afternoon, Les Canadiennes announced that the 28-year-old free agent, and recent Team USA Olympic gold medalist, Hilary Knight, will join Montreal in time for the 2018 CWHL playoff run. Drafted fourth overall by the Boston Blades in the 2012 CWHL Draft, Knight previously received CWHL MVP honours in 2013 and is a two-time Clarkson Cup winner with the Blades in 2013 and 2015. The American superstar is set to make her debut with Les Canadiennes this Sunday, March 11, against the Calgary Inferno at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, which will be broadcast live nation-wide on Sportsnet.
Also announced this week were the returns of Laura Fortino and Laura Stacey to the Markham Thunder. Both Fortino and Stacey suited up for the Thunder, previously located in Brampton last season, with Fortino registering 19 points (6 G, 13 A) and Stacey notching 24 points (11 G, 13 A) over 20 games played. The pair will play their first games of the 2017-18 CWHL season on the road in Boston on March 10 and 11, joining fellow Olympian and Thunder captain Jocelyne Larocque, who returned to the team in their two-game home series sweep of the visiting Calgary Inferno this past weekend. Larocque recorded her first goal of the 2017-18 season in Markham’s Saturday night victory over the Inferno. Last season, Larocque played in 20 games for the Brampton squad, recording 4 assists.
Making their debut’s in that weekend series in Markham as well were returning Calgary Inferno Olympians, Blayre Turnbull and Brianne Jenner. In the midst of a three-team race for home-ice advantage in the playoffs, alongside Les Canadiennes and the Kunlun Red Star, the Inferno Olympians return appears instrumental in Calgary’s push for a second Clarkson Cup. Jenner recorded her first point of the 2017-18 season with an assist on the Inferno’s lone-goal during the Saturday evening contest versus the Thunder last weekend. Last season, Jenner led the Inferno with 27 points (9 G, 18 A) in 20 games, while Turnbull notched 18 points (9 G, 9 A) in 22 appearances. The pair will also be featured in Sunday’s CWHL season finale live on Sportsnet, with puck drop scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (EST).
Lastly, after appearing in 16 games with the Kunlun Red Star prior to the CWHL’s Olympic break, Finnish goalie sensation Noora Räty wasted no time in returning to her China-based club following her bronze-medal win with Team Finland in Pyeongchang. Räty made her return appearance with the Red Star on Wednesday, February 28, earning a shutout win over Les Canadiennes in her first game back. The Espoo, Finland native has followed that up with two more victories, including her sixth shutout effort this season to set a new CWHL single-season mark.
CWHL playoff tickets will go on sale this Monday via thecwhl.com/tickets, while 2018 Clarkson Cup Final tickets are already available. For more information on the entire Clarkson Cup Weekend visit thecwhl.com/clarksoncup.
This article includes information from official press releases of Les Canadiennes, Markham Thunder, and Calgary Inferno.