Jetta Rackleff makes first start of the season at DCU Center vs. Montreal

The Blades took on Les Canadiennes for their first meeting of the season, the first of two series which will take place in Worcester. The game was the first of a double header with the Worcester Railers of the ECHL, taking place at the DCU Center.

Montreal recently came off a two game sweep of Toronto, however Les Canadiennes had three weeks off since last playing to allow their players to participate in the Four Nations Cup tournament. This was no issue for Montreal though, as they defeated the Blades by a score of 5-0.

Pregame

Starting for the Blades, Jetta Rackleff made her season debut as a mid-season addition to Worcester’s roster. She’s familiar with the Blades franchise, serving as a backup goalie for the Blades over the past two seasons. However, she was injured after 2 games played in 2017, requiring her to miss the remainder of the year. She’s tended net in 10 games total with 298 saves on 333 shots.

For Les Canadiennes, Emerance Maschmeyer started in net after last shutting out the Toronto Furies in two straight games, saving all 38 shots she faced over both games.

First Period

Montreal started off flying out of the gate, generating two early scoring chances in the first minute, but missed the net both times. Rackleff made her first save off a shot from the dot a minute later.

Montreal’s early pressure broke through at 4:11, as Hillary Knight’s shot beat Rackleff to put up Les Canadiennes 1-0. Katia Clement-Heydra assisted on the goal.

The Blades tried to answer quickly, as Carrie Atkinson ripped a shot from the point at 5:13. However, it was an easy glove save for Maschmeyer and she snagged it out of the air.

Megan Myers took the game’s first penalty, getting called for body checking at 6:04. The first half of the powerplay was defended well by the Blades, but Montreal generated a flurry of chances with only seconds remaining. Rackleff was forced to make a number of close saves on doorstep, but managed to kill the penalty to keep the deficit at one.

Rackleff made another strong save off a shot just below the blue line halfway through the period. Two minutes later, Rebecca Fleming generated another scoring chance for Worcester on a 2-on-2, but Maschmeyer deflected the shot away.

Rackleff made a solid pad save with six minutes left in the period, but got beat just half a minute later as Montreal scored again to go up 2-0. Marie-Phillip Poulin’s shot beat her just under the pad; the goal was assisted by Ann-Sophie Bettez.

With just 1:32 left in the period, Montreal’s Emma Martin was called for body checking, giving the Blades a chance to answer. However, they struggled to enter the zone as the period ended, the score after one being 2-0 Montreal.

Shots after the first period totaled 14 for Les Canadiennes and just 2 for the Blades.

Second Period

Montreal started the second period by killing off the small remainder of Martin’s penalty. Then, they went back into gear on offense as a Canadiennes shot hit the post just 1:30 in.

Myers generated a chance for Blades at the doorstep a minute later at 2:30, but Maschemeyer made the save.

A 2-on-1 rush for Montreal was defended well by the Blades at 3:30, as they couldn’t manage a clean shot on Rackleff, but an interference penalty was called on Demi Crossman shortly after at 4:13.

Rackleff made a strong save off Erin Ambrose’s slapshot from the faceoff dot halfway through the powerplay. There were also several chances for Knight on the one-timer but the Blades were able to kill the penalty.

Meghan Grieves responded with a scoring chance for the Blades by ripping a shot from the circle at 7 minutes in, but Maschmeyer made the glove save.

Montreal hit another post midway through the period off a deflected pass as they were driving to the net, and Rackleff was forced to make another strong save on the doorstep just seconds later.

Les Canadiennes kept up the siege on Rackleff, as she continued to hold strong, making another save at 11 minutes in off Lauriane Rougeau’s shot from the slot.

The Blades managed to generate some zone time with 8 minutes to go in the period, but struggled to create any decent scoring opportunities.

With five minutes remaining, Rackleff made yet another save on a phenomenal scoring opportunity for Montreal as Bettez came in on a 2-on-0.

The continual pressure was too much though, as Knight scored her second of the game at 16:46. She put Montreal up 3-0  with a scorching slapshot right off the faceoff. Clement-Heydra assisted for her second point of the game.

Poulin was called for roughing with 3:10 left, giving the Blades an opportunity to cut into the deficit, but Montreal killed off the penalty with little threat to score.

The second period ended with Montreal leading 3-0. Shots in the period were another 14 for Les Canadiennes, totaling 28 and 6 for the Blades, totaling 8.

Third Period

The Blades came out of the locker room hot as Chelsey Goldberg generated a nice scoring chance for the Blades as she had a partial breakaway, but Maschmeyer made the save.

Worcester followed up with continued pressure as they managed some decent zone time and scoring chances in the first two minutes of the period.

However, Montreal answered with their own offense and at 3:07 managed to find the back of the net to make it 4-0. Poulin scored her second goal of game off a deflected slapshot from blue line. The initial shot by Mélodie Daoust earned her an assist.

The Blades were not deterred by the goal, as they continued to look for their own score. Morgan Turner ripped a slapshot from blue line at 5:45, but Maschmeyer was there to keep the Blades off the board.

Goldberg had a solid scoring chance just seconds later, looking for the second opportunity off a rebound, but again the save was made by Maschmeyer.

Continued pressure by the Blades saw a 2-on-1 opportunity develop at 8 minutes in, but the shot was deflected away by Maschmeyer.

The period saw more of a balanced game as the Blades were able to shift the momentum a bit away from their defensive zone, lessening the pressure of Rackleff. She continued to be stout in net though, making a strong save off a slapshot from the top of the circle midway through the period.

Some of that momentum halted as Crossman was called for checking at 11:47. The majority of the penalty was defended well but Rackleff was forced make some solid saves at the end as a scramble in front of the net lead to a ripping slapshot chance by Ambrose.

Knight vied for the hat trick with 5 minutes remaining as she deked a defender, but Rackleff made the pad save to keep her from her third score.

Montreal made it 5-0 just 90 seconds later off a 2-on-1 opportunity. Bettez received the cross crease feed from Rougeau and buried it with 3:32 left in the game. Daoust assisted on the goal as well for her second point of the day.

The Blades desperately attempted to at least get on the board in the final minutes of the game. They managed to cause a flurry of close up opportunities but just couldn’t find the back of the net, as Maschmeyer closed the door and completed the shutout.

Final score: 5-0 Montreal. Shots on goal in the third were 21 for Montreal, totaling 49 and 13 for the Blades, totaling 21.

Three Stars

First Star – Hillary Knight, Montreal forward

Second Star – Marie-Philip Poulin, Montreal forward

Third Star – Jetta Rackleff, Worcester goaltender

Post Game

Jetta Rackleff spoke after the game about her offseason recovery from injury and journey back to the ice.

“First off, I had to get surgery. That wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, but I definitely felt better as soon as I got out of surgery,” Rackleff said. “I worked my butt off, I worked with Boston PT & Wellness. They worked with me literally every single day of the week, doing strengthening exercises, making sure I had the full range of motion.

“And I’m pretty grateful, because I was able to get on the ice; I also play inline hockey, so I got to do that over the summer as well,” Rackleff explained. “So, I was able to get a little ice time in and try to get that mentality back and everything like that. And the team’s been great in terms of following up with my progress and being supportive.”

She also spoke about her start today and her chance to play again professionally.

“It was great. When I got hurt last year, it was kind of a bummer that it was the end of my season, but things happen and you’ve got to make the best of them,” Rackleff said.

Photo by Mimi Murad.

“I actually got the call this week when I was on a work trip so, I was like ‘Oh cool, I’m excited!’ So, luckily I had my gear with me and I could skate a little bit while I was out in Nebraska before the game. And, everyone’s really supportive in the room, when I got here they were like ‘Yay! You’re back,'” Rackleff said of her call up.

On the experience of playing at the DCU Center, she praised the opportunity.

“The lighting is great… it’s a great arena to play in and it’s really world class,” Rackleff commended. “It was definitely an honor to play here and I hope that we can continue our partnership with the Railers, because they’ve been very supportive of us.”

Lastly, she reflected on the outcome of the game and how she hopes the team will improve for Game 2 tomorrow.

“I thought the girls played really well in terms of being able to make sure right in front of the house was taken care of, making sure they weren’t getting those really high quality scoring opportunities,” Rackleff explained. “[But,] I think, just from the net out, we don’t need to fight pucks so much.”

“We were pressuring them in their zone, and they tend to cough up the puck. So, just keep the pressure on, make sure we’re playing on our toes, and everyone buy into that game plan,” said Rackleff. “I think if we do that tomorrow…I think that we’ll do a lot better.”

Next Game

Game two against Les Canadiennes will take place Sunday, November 18 at 12:30 p.m., back home at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. Tickets are available here as well as at the door.

To stay up to date with this weekend’s game coverage, be sure to follow the Blades on Twitter @WorcesterCWHL.

Zach Bamberger is a Communications Intern for the Worcester Blades. All media requests and inquiries should be sent to Merisa Boyd, Director of Communications, at [email protected]