The ceiling at Verdun Hall nearly rose Saturday afternoon, when captain Marie-Philippe Poulin was introduced to the crowd during Montreal's home opener in the Women's Professional Hockey League.
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A hot atmosphere prevailed in the stadium, and the match had not yet begun.
When Montreal opened the scoring through Erin Ambrose early in the second half, the decibels rose sharply again. At the site, several Montreal Canadiens representatives, including Jeff Molson, Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, appeared to be enjoying the game.
“It's an excellent showing and I think everyone here is happy to see a women's team in Montreal,” Canadiens owner, Mr. Molson, commented briefly.
Little Eloise Rodriguez, an 11-year-old hockey player, made sure to arrive extra early. More than an hour before kickoff against Boston, she was dancing in the stands to the music and proudly holding her poster, hoping to catch the attention of a certain player.
“Please MPP29, can you score a goal in the first half? “I have a match at 5 p.m.,” we can read on the multi-colored fans’ banner, calling out to captain Marie-Philippe Poulin.
Like many other young girls who came to watch the game, partly or in full, little Eloise can now dream of playing professional hockey one day.
Photo by Martin Chevalier
“I hope to be in this league when I grow up and play midfield,” said the hockey player, who wears Westmount Wings colors at U13 level. I would also like to participate in the Olympic Games.
If she considers Marie-Philippe Poulin her favorite player, it's because young Eloise had the opportunity to meet her last summer during a hockey camp held on Loyola's campus.
“She is a really good player, and most importantly, very nice,” Eloise said.
His sister against the imp
Posters similar to those of Éloïse were numerous in the Verdun hall. One onlooker was even willing to trade her sister for a disc.
Hockey shirts were scattered on the stands, whether they were new Montreal team shirts or others bearing the image of the Canadian team, in addition to shirts bearing the league’s logo.
From the warm-up period, we could feel the loud applause from the crowd and see the white towels being twirled.
After the players were introduced, former hockey player Caroline Ouellette and Montreal general manager Danielle Sauvageau also received a standing ovation during the pre-game ceremony.
The attendance was estimated at around 4,000, but it is believed that some fans stayed home due to bad weather.