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INFERNO SET FOR CLARKSON CUP BATTLE

The Inferno will face off against Montreal in Sunday's Clarkson Cup Final

by PAUL MAWDSLEY @pmawdsley23 / CalgaryFlames.com

One game. 60 minutes.

That's all that stands between the Calgary Inferno and their second straight Clarkson Cup championship.

"We're just excited and it's just one game, so every shift, every inch matters," said Inferno goaltender Genevieve Lacasse.

The Inferno will hit the ice on Sunday at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa in defence of the Clarkson Cup. Lining up opposite of Calgary will be their biggest rival, Les Canadiennes de Montreal.

This is more than just a championship game, it's a rematch of last season's Clarkson Cup that saw the Inferno jump all over Montreal, winning 8-3. 

"It's going to be a real tough match-up, I think this season we went 3-3 against them, so it could go either way," said Lacasse. "We're defending the cup so that puts pressure on us."

The two squads most recently met on Feb. 18 and 19, playing a pair of games at WinSport Arena in Calgary. With a host of fans in attendance for 'Start The Spark' night, the Inferno brought their A-game and shutout Les Canadiennes 3-0 to win the first game. Montreal would rebound the next evening, outscoring Calgary 5-3 to split the weekend.

With plenty of star power on either side of the ice, playing mistake-free hockey will be a major component in the outcome.

"I think we need to be ready to go from puck drop, get that first goal," said Lacasse. "I think special teams are going to be a huge part of the game, so we'll need to have a real good PK. Our powerplay, if we can get that connecting.

"Other than that, we need to play our game and trust in our systems and trust in each other and our creativity."

Earning a trip to the Clarkson Cup was not as easy as the league's top team had hoped.

Facing the Toronto Furies in a three-game series last weekend, the Inferno got behind the eight-ball, dropping the opening game 5-2. Feeling the pressure of a must-win scenario in each of the next two games, Calgary buckled down and beat the Furies 3-1 in both games.

"It was amazing," remarked assistant captain Rebecca Johnston. "We struggled a bit the first game, but I think we really stepped it up and did the little things right and got the puck to the net and eventually it went in for us. Overall it was definitely an exciting series."

Having played in a couple elimination games already in the playoffs, Calgary feels well prepared for the winner take all Clarkson Cup.

"I think going into Game 3 being down one game to nothing last weekend gives us confidence. We were able to come back from that and play in a really tight game on Sunday," said Lacasse, who made 56 saves on 58 shots to help the Inferno win back-to-back games. "It was 1-1 until the third period, where we pulled away. It gives us confidence and we're comfortable playing in a tight game as well."

Unlike the semifinal, which was a best-of-three series, the Clarkson Cup will be decided by just a single game.

Compared to most weekends that see the Inferno play multiple games, having just one game could affect their road-trip routines.

"I wouldn't say it changes how we prepare. We're preparing how we have for weekend series all year," said Lacasse, who was nominated as goaltender of the year. "We usually play two games every weekend, so it's a bit different having one."

At least the travel schedule is easier than usual.

"When we play series that are Saturday, Sunday, we travel the day of on Saturday and then we play," explained Lacasse. "So I think our legs are going to feel really good compared to normal."

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