by Sasha Kalra
MARKHAM, Ont – The Boston Blades can now reflect on the greatest year in franchise history.
The Blades followed up on a dominant regular season by winning the fifth annual Clarkson Cup. They defeated the Montreal Stars 5-2 in the final Saturday at Centennial Community Centre, denying their rivals the chance to make history by winning their third-straight tournament.
The Blades went 19-4-1 in the regular season and finished the campaign in first place with 39 points. Three of their four losses were against Montreal and it was special to get one over their rivals in the Clarkson Cup final.
“I hope we win another one,” head coach Digit Murphy said with a smile. “To be the first U.S. team to win the Clarkson Cup is an amazing experience.”
Boston went 2-1 in round robin play, defeating Toronto 3-2, shutting out Brampton 2-0 and losing to Montreal 1-0. The Stars may have won the round robin game, but it was the Blades who had the last laugh, prevailing in the championship decider.
“They’re unbelievably amazing people and it was a special team I was able to coach,” Murphy said. “All of the kids almost had tears in their eyes because they really love playing together.”
Boston forward Hilary Knight, the first American-born player to win the CWHL’s Most Valuable Player award, had five points during the tournament and drew the praise of her coach.
“She has no ego and that’s what makes her a special player,” Murphy said. “She’s just a force.”
Boston captain and Harvard University alumna Caitlin Cahow felt proud when looking back on the Blades’ remarkable term.
“This season has been huge for us in New England,” the two-time Olympian said. “We really feel like we made history and we’re proud of that ... bringing the Clarkson Cup home is huge for us.”
The former figure skater was quick to give credit to her opponents and noted the difficulties of facing Montreal eight times this year. The Blades and Stars split the season series with three wins apiece, and Cahow was relieved to have won the most important game of the season.
“It was an incredible game out there and some of the best hockey anyone is going to see anywhere in the world this year,” Cahow said. “With Montreal, they’re such a remarkable club and any given day, any club can win.”
Montreal forward Julie Chu was disappointed with her team’s performance against many of her American Olympic teammates.
“It’s disappointing to lose, and a little bit of a dagger because your friends are the ones who just beat you,” Chu said. “You still want them to play great ... that’s always the consolation.”
Coach Murphy stood in the centre of the rink post-game taking photos with her players, and you couldn’t help but notice the inherent satisfaction she was showing after masterminding the Blades to their first Clarkson Cup win in franchise history.
When asked about Boston as the next possible host city for the tournament, she grinned.
“To see the energy around women’s hockey is really heartwarming to me, and it shows that there is a bright future,” Murphy said, still smiling. “I think we could with a little planning and a little support.”
For now she’ll be content to reflect upon an extremely successful 2012-13 season – including Clarkson Cup victory.