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A Chinese side with some serious game

Les Canadiennes dropped a 3-1 decision to Kunlun Red Star on Saturday at the Bell Centre

by Joanie Godin. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski. @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - History was made on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre as a squad from China played its first-ever game in an NHL rink.

Les Canadiennes de Montréal would have preferred to come out on the right side of the historic contest, though, falling 3-1 to Kunlun Red Star in front of 5,187 spectators, many of whom were from the city's Chinese community.

Things started off well for the home side, taking the lead on an early goal by Erinn Noseworthy, who realized a childhood dream at that very moment.

"It's incredible. I'm from Ontario and the Canadiens have always been my favorite team, so playing here was a dream come true and scoring my first goal is obviously the best feeling ever!" said the 24-year-old forward following the game.

Video: Erinn Noseworthy gets Les Canadiennes on the board

But, the Red Star went on to score three unanswered goals, with Ontario's Melanie Jue (1g, 1a) leading the charge. The Red Star also held Les Canadiennes off the scoresheet on all six of their power play opportunities.

Montreal head coach Dany Brunet wasn't at all satisfied with his team's performance.

"It's our worst game of the year and unfortunately it happened here. It's a question of attitude. Did we really want to play this game? Things like this happen once a year, being able to play in a building like this. It's about being able to manage things when there are big events and we weren't able to manage our emotions, so this is the result we ended up with," he said.

With respect to his club's inability to score at even-strength, Brunet once again referenced their attitude, which wasn't up to par.

"All game long, things were complicated and difficult. At 5-on-5, our attitude wasn't good. We weren't playing well and our habits weren't on point. Even if we'd played 8-on-4, I don't think we would have gotten better results. It's a question of attitude. The way we played over three periods, we weren't able to adapt," he added.

Video: Erinn Noseworthy on scoring at the Bell Centre

Noseworthy affirmed that even though her team had studied Kunlun's style of play, they were somewhat surprised when they finally hit the ice.

"I don't think we were expecting them to be that tough and physical, but we also didn't really play our game. We let them come to us. I think it was a bit of a shock for us and a real wake-up call for the next two games," she admitted.

Ann-Sophie Bettez promises that Les Canadiennes will rebound over those next two games, which just happen to be against Kunlun.

"Tomorrow, we'll be ready. You can be sure of that," said Bettez.

Those contests will take place at Michel-Normandin Arena at the Centre Claude-Robillard, and the players believe that it will provide them with a key advantage. 

"I think we let our nerves get the best of us, just with the atmosphere and the warm-up, seeing all of that. Then, when we hit the ice, it was a lot to take in. I think it had a big effect on the game," said Noseworthy.

"It's always fun to come to play in a big building like this. It's like a dream come true. We're hoping to be able to play in rinks like this more often. It's sad that we lost, but I think we learn lessons with each experience. Now, it's time to get back to reality and come down from the cloud of the Bell Centre and play in the Centre Claude-Robillard," mentioned Bettez.

Video: Dany Brunet on Les Canadiennes' loss to Kunlun

Despite the loss, the girls are pleased with their Bell Centre experience.

"The Red Star is a new team, but they have experienced players. They're in the league to offer up a good challenge and it proves that women's hockey is expanding," concluded Bettez.

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