Montreal opens Clarkson Cup with win

Dominique Thibault scored a hat trick as Montreal blasted the Minnesota Whitecaps 5-1 in Clarkson Cup round-robin play on Thursday in Barrie, Ont.

Dominique Thibault scored a hat trick as Montreal blasted the Minnesota Whitecaps 5-1 in Clarkson Cup round-robin play on Thursday in Barrie, Ont.

Sarah Vaillancourt and Emmanuelle Blais had the other goals for Montreal (1-0), while Caroline Ouellette added three assists.

Gigi Marvin replied for Minnesota (0-1), which iced just 12 skaters due to lack of player availability.

"We didn't know what to expect from them because we haven't seen them all year," Ouellette said. "What did help us was their lack of numbers."

Kim St-Pierre stopped 36 of the 37 shots she faced, keeping Minnesota's top scorers at bay.

"I think we were solid at all positions tonight, from Kim outwards," Ouellette said. "We got better as the game went on.

"Our defence did an excellent job of clearing rebounds and we had lots of chances offensively."

Thibault completed the hat trick on a power play in the third period, when she took a pass from Ouellette and one-timed the puck past Minnesota goaltender Megan Van Beusekom-Sweerin.

The forward from L'Original, Ont., also had the lone goal of the second period on another one-timer.

Montreal took an early lead in the game when Blais scored just 2:08 into the contest, firing a wrist shot over the shoulder of Van Beusekom-Sweerin.

They added to the lead minutes later on the man advantage after Thibault tipped home a Julie Chu point shot to give her club a 2-0 advantage.

Minnesota cut into the deficit when Marvin snapped a shot on the power play past St-Pierre.

But before the period was out, a strong solo effort by Vaillancourt saw her deke out a Whitecaps defender before slipping the puck past Van Beusekom-Sweerin to put Montreal up 3-1 after one.

Montreal finished the contest 2-for-3 with the man advantage while Minnesota ended the night at 1-for-5.

Van Beusekom-Sweerin made 41 saves in defeat.

Earlier in the day, Sami Jo Small made 53 saves to lead Toronto to a 3-2 victory over Brampton in the opening game of round-robin play.

Michelle Bonello, Britni Smith and Angela Di Stasi scored for Toronto (1-0).

Olympians Cherie Piper and Gillian Apps replied for Brampton (0-1), which peppered Small with 55 shots.

Brampton put lots of pressure on Toronto late in the third period and drew within one goal when Apps knocked a rebound past Small on a power play. They weren't able to get the tying goal.

Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the midway point, chasing starting goaltender Kira Hurley from the game. She was replaced by Liz Knox after Smith scored Brampton's third goal.

Di Stasi opened the scoring for Toronto in the first period, when her shot from a bad angle deflected off of a Brampton defender's stick and beat Hurley on the short side.

Bonello made it 2-0 before the opening period was out, deflecting Smith's point shot past Hurley.

Piper got the score back to 3-1 on a two-man advantage. She took a pass from Ashley Pendleton and swept the puck under Small.

Brampton finished the game 2-for-7 with the man advantage while Toronto ended the afternoon 1-for-6.

Hurley gave up three goals on 13 shots before Knox took over and stopped all 15 attempts she faced.