The Montreal Stars are keeping the Clarkson Cup in Canada.
With the women's hockey trophy up for grabs for the first time this year, former governor general Adrienne Clarkson presented the Clarkson Cup to the Stars on Saturday in Kingston, Ont.
Montreal beat the Minnesota Whitecaps 3-1 in the final of the Scotiabank National Canadian Women's Championship at the K-Rock Centre.
Almost five years after she said women should play for the Stanley Cup with the men idled during the NHL lockout, Clarkson handed the trophy to the Stars.
Shauna Denis, Sabrina Herbec and Caroline Ouellette scored for the Stars, while three-time American Olympian Angela Ruggiero replied for the Whitecaps.
Clarkson had dedicated the trophy to a national women's championship in 2006, but the cup got caught up in a licensing dispute with the artists she had commissioned to create it. A financial settlement was reached earlier this month.
"This is about encouraging excellence in women's hockey," Clarkson said.
"It's very important. It's just the right timing and I feel there is something magical about it. It's a wonderful legacy to have — the Clarkson Cup for women's hockey. I'm absolutely thrilled about it."
Canadian cup could have gone south
Clarkson, who performed the ceremonial faceoff Saturday, said she wouldn't have had a problem with a U.S. team winning the inaugural cup.
Canadian women's club hockey has had a troubled history, with the Western Women's Hockey League teams breaking away from the National Women's Hockey League in 2004 before the latter league suspended operations in 2007.
The player-run Canadian Women's Hockey League formed after the collapse of the NWHL.
"First and foremost, this is about excellent hockey being played by women," said Clarkson. "We want the cup to be played in an excellent way. We have to say we want to see it being played in a North American way.
"That's what the leagues [the CWHL and WWHL] are formed as and we have to go with what the leagues are formed as."
The Stars, the top team in the CWHL, had lost 4-3 in overtime to WWHL champion Minnesota after blowing a 3-0 lead in the tournament's opening game Thursday, but exacted revenge in the bigger contest Saturday.
Montreal, which beat the Brampton Thunder 4-1 in semifinal play, broke a 1-1 tie in the final with less than five minutes to go in the second period when Herbec banged a rebound past Minnesota goalie Sanya Sandahl.
A former finalist for the U.S. college player of the year award at St. Lawrence University, Herbec was the most dangerous player on the ice Saturday. She finished fifth in the Canadian Women's Hockey League scoring race this season.
Ouellette gave the Stars some insurance when she took a pass from 17-year-old phenom Marie-Philip Poulin and beat Sandahl to put Montreal ahead 3-1 less than two minutes into the third.
After a scoreless first period, Denis opened the scoring just past the midway mark of the second period when she completed a nice passing play, taking a good feed from Herbec near the crease.
Less than five minutes later, Ruggiero tied it, going to her backhand in close to put a good shot over Montreal goalie Kim St-Pierre.