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PHF’s new Montreal franchise signs first seven players

Ann-Sophie Bettez is one of the first seven players to sign with the PHF’s new Montreal expansion team. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Premier Hockey Federation’s Montreal expansion team announced Monday that it has signed its first seven players.

Six forwards and one defender have all committed to the team, including:

  • Ann-Sophie Bettez, F
  • Kim Deschênes, F
  • Jade Downie-Landry, F
  • Alexandra Labelle, F
  • Sarah Lefort, F
  • Kristina Shanahan, F
  • Brigitte Laganière, D

“This is a very exciting step forward for the foundation of the PHF in Montreal and across the province of Quebec,” team president Kevin Raphaël said in a statement. “This group is a great mix of exuberant youth and veteran experience, players with character, and who have led their previous teams to success. This is the start of a team that is going to be willing to work hard every week to win games and be role models for the next generation. We’re not just building a hockey team, we’re building a family, and I’m extremely proud.”

All seven players have connections to Montreal and the surrounding area, with three having played for Les Canadiennes de Montreal of the defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Bettez, Deschênes and Lefort all played together on the CWHL team, winning a Clarkson Cup in 2017.

Bettez is the team’s most experienced signing, having played professionally for 10 seasons. She was the CWHL Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was the league’s top scorer one season later. A member of Team Canada during the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship, she’s also a bronze medalist and has spent the last three seasons playing in the Professional Women’s Hockey Player Association.

Deschênes also has also spent the last three seasons in the PWHPA. She was a member of the CWHL’s Montreal team from 2014-19. Lefort, meanwhile, was an eighth overall pick in the 2015 NWHL Draft and joined the CWHL’s Canadiennes after a standout career at Boston University. She has also spent the last three seasons with the PWHPA. The other player with PWHPA experience is Labelle.

Downie-Landry, Laganière and Shanahan, meanwhile, are all beginning their professional careers with Montreal.

Downie-Landry has spent the past seasons playing at McGill University for the Martlets. Laganière, the team’s lone defensive signing thus far, recently helped the Concordia University Stingers to their first U Sports national title since 1999 and was named a First-Team All-Canadian player after tallying three goals and 14 assists through 15 games.

Shanahan capped off five years at the University of Vermont by leading the team to its most successful season ever with 22 wins. She had 16 goals and 17 assists through 34 games for the squad that also earned a spot in the national rankings.

Terms of each contract will not be disclosed.