Montreal pro women's hockey team signs first seven players for upcoming season

The Premier Hockey Federation's newest expansion team in Montreal has signed its first seven players for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

Montreal signed forwards Ann-Sophie Bettez, Kim Deschenes, Jade Downie-Landry, Alexandra Labelle, Sarah Lefort, and Kristina Shanahan.

The team also signed defender Brigitte Laganiere.

"This is a very exciting step forward for the foundation of the PHF in Montreal and across the province of Quebec," team president Kevin Raphael 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."

Bettez is the most experienced figure of the group having competed for the Canadian bronze medal-winning team at the 2019 IIHF women's world championships.

Deschenes is an eight-year professional, having spent the last three seasons in the PWHPA after five years in the now-defunct Canadian Women's Hockey League.

Prior to playing the previous two years in the PWHPA, Labelle competed for the Montreal Carabins, winning a U Sports national title and earning an RSEQ first team all-star nod in 2017-2018.

Following an impressive career at Boston University, finishing as the school's second all-time leading scorer, Lefort joined the CWHL where she won a Clarkson Cup title alongside Bettez and Deschenes in 2017.

Meanwhile, Laganiere, Shanahan, and Downie-Landry will all be entering their first pro seasons with Montreal.

The 26-year-old Downie-Landry will step into the pro game fresh off winning U Sports Player of the Year in her sixth and final season at McGill University.

Laganiere enters the fold having helped Concordia University to its first U Sports championship since 1999, where she finished fifth in the conference in scoring.

Shanahan recently completed a five-year career at the University of Vermont. The Montreal native earned Hockey East second team all-star honours in her final season.

All seven players opted not to disclose the terms of their contracts.

Montreal was announced to be the league's newest team on July 12. It will be the PHF's seventh team, and second in Canada after the Toronto Six.

Details of the schedule for the upcoming season have yet to be announced.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.