For their rematch against the Vanke Rays, the Toronto Furies came out of the gate firing, and they brought backup. The Markham Thunder battled hard but lost another tough one to les Canadiennes de Montréal.
Furies vs Rays 3-2
To counter the Rays’ starting line of Hanna Bunton, Emily Janiga and Cayley Mercer, the Furies brought out Julie Allen, Brittany Zuback and Jenna Dingeldein. As an added bonus, Sami Jo Small came in to make her first start in goal in almost a year. Toronto went on the offensive immediately, taking the fight to the Rays and getting the game’s first shot on goal.
It was a chippy first period, both in the sense that the Furies made up for being the slower team by becoming the more physical team and that the puck was being chipped through the air instead of sliding across the ice. If you can’t go around them, the thinking seemed to be, try going over them. It certainly worked to get the puck in deep quickly and cause a bit of confusion among the Vanke ranks.
As in most games this season Carolyne Prévost was often zooming across the ice carrying the puck. She got all the way to the net but lost control of the puck at the last second, drawing a hooking call on Bunton and the Furies first power play. (Prévost-to-the-net-but-not-in is such a theme this season I’m not convinced the hook made much of a difference on the play but I’m not arguing the call!)
Unlike Saturday night, the Furies power play unit looked like they were actually on the power play, with coordinated passes, communication and an ability to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Just under a minute and a half into the penalty, Brittany Zuback got the puck back to Shannon Moulson at the point and she sent a pretty shot in past Elaine Chuli to make it 1-0 for the Furies.
It felt like the rest of the period was taken up with penalties — the Furies physicality caught up to them as Hayley Williams went off for cross-checking followed by Allen for bodychecking and Prévost for slashing. Still, the Furies managed to kill everything off and even limited Vanke to 11 shots on Small.
Both teams started the same lines as in the first period, something I don’t see that often. The Furies didn’t quite get the same jump off the draw as they did in the first, and spent most of the first minute defending before managing to get the puck down the right end. Chuli made a nice save on a chance by Williams from Shannon Stewart, who made her CWHL debut this weekend, and the shoving around her net in the aftermath led to coincidental minors for Danielle Gagné and Qinan Zhao. Somehow the Rays had also gotten called for slashing about seven seconds prior, so it did lead to a power play for Toronto.
Although it didn’t result in a goal, the Furies had themselves another good power play, sticking mostly to the Rays zone, keeping them busy and not allowing any shorthanded chances—just an all around improvement on the team I’d seen less than 24 hours ago. From there it was a pretty back and forth period. The Furies succeeded in slowing down and intercepting the Rays, so it wasn’t a track meet, but there were good chances at both ends.
With about 1:10 to go, the Rays finally got some sustained pressure on Small, putting up a flurry of shots. This ended in a bodychecking call on Ella Stewart, who somehow managed to wedge Rays forward Brooke Webster into Small’s net without also getting the puck in there. Six seconds later, Hanna Bunton sent the puck in clean just over Small’s glove to tie the game 1-1 with assists from Ashleigh Brykaliuk and Cayley Mercer. Despite it being only Vanke’s second game of the season, it was nobody’s first point. These gals are dangerous.
It looked like the Rays had scored again with five seconds remaining, but the goal was called off and Emma Woods went to the box for goalie interference. The Furies outshot the Rays 17 to 11 in the period.
Furies started the period on the power play and again it looked like a power play! (I will get over this soon, I promise.) Even better, Jenna Dingeldein combined with Shannon Stewart and Shannon Moulson to score a beauty on Elaine Chuli and put Toronto back in the lead, 2-1. The assist was Stewart’s first CWHL point.
There was more special teams work in the period — another power play followed by two kills in fairly quick succession. The penalty kills weren’t pretty but they got the job done. Back at even strength and coming up on the halfway mark, Prévost came into the Vanke zone with Gagné, forcing Chuli to stop play. The line change brought on Cassidy Delainey, who combined with Jenna Dingeldein and Jessica Platt in a confusion of an attack on net to make it 3-1 Furies. I swear I saw the puck go into the net twice before the second time was actually called a goal. I’m also not sure what they did with the puck on that one because it was the first CWHL point for both Delainey and Platt.
From here on in there was a lot of icing for both teams. The Rays weren’t getting the puck all that deep into the Furies zone but they were definitely pressing. Chuli was pulled with just over three minutes remaining and Vanke gave Small and the Furies defenders all they could handle and then some. A minute into the 6 on 5, Mercer and Brykaliuk combined for another goal, this time with an assist from Webster. Mercer’s got a bit of a slapshot going.
Fortunately for Toronto, although the Rays outshot them 17 to 6 in the period, that was all she wrote. Final score was 3-2 Furies, a clean series split.
I thought I’d misheard on Saturday night but in fact the Rays backup goalie, Tianyi Zhang, was a scratch both days. Her replacement had no nameplate on the back of her jersey and wasn’t officially listed on the game sheet, but wore number 31.
With so many GTA players on the Rays, it was more of a Vanke crowd than a Toronto crowd, which was a little disconcerting (and also worrying in terms of attendance numbers. Folks, come out to a game and be loud! For those that care, there’s even beer this season!).
The Furies needed to step it up in this one and they did. Players of note were Jessica Platt, Hayley Williams, Sydney Kidd, Danielle Gagne, Cassidy Delainey and Shannon Stewart. They were aggressive, aware, and giving 110%. Nods to Jenna Dingeldein, Michelle Saunders and Carolyne Prévost all of whom were doing good work both games.
The team still relied too much on Prévost (similar to how they often rely on Spooner) but she was entering with backup most of the time today, usually Shannon Stewart, Sydney Kidd or Danielle Gagné.
Emily Fulton has got to get her act together. She had some good moments in this game but there were a number of times she displayed a complete lack of awareness of the location of the puck, the location of other players (on either team, she nearly backed into one of the Rays), or just generally what was going on on the ice around her. I like Fulton but this was not exactly her weekend.
Fun with numbers: this was Shannon Moulson’s 222nd regular season game in the CWHL (she leads active players) and she scored 2 points, giving her 61 for her career. It was Sami Jo Small’s 120th regular season game and her 64th win.
3. Sami Jo Small - Furies (36 saves)
2. Cayley Mercer - Rays (1G, 1A)
1. Jenna Dingeldein - Furies (1G, 1A)
Thunder vs Canadiennes
The second game in the Thunder’s two-game series with les Canadiennes was as close as the first one. Liz Knox started in goal for the Thunder instead of Erica Howe, with Alexis Woloschuk and Nicole Kosta as the scratches, while Laura McIntosh drew back in. Emerance Maschmeyer was in goal again for Montréal.
The first goal of the game came from last night’s OT hero, Cathy Chartrand. Markham answered back before the end of the first, with Jamie Lee Rattray—who else?—putting a powerplay goal past Maschmeyer. It was Rattray’s fifth goal of the season, and she’s currently leading the league in both goals and points. Sarah Lefort put Montréal back in the lead in the second period, but with less than two minutes left in the game, Laura McIntosh tied it up for Markham and the Thunder forced overtime for the second game in a row.
Unfortunately, this game didn’t have a happier ending than yesterday’s for Markham. Just over a minute into the OT period, Lefort put her second goal of the game past Knox. Les Canadiennes won in OT, and Markham will have to settle for the moral victory of two overtime losses.
3. Cathy Chartrand (1G, 1A, 2PIM)
2. Taylor Woods
1. Sarah Lefort (2G including GWG)
Markham goes on the road to Calgary next weekend (November 4 and 5)and Calgary will then come to Toronto the following weekend to take on the Furies. None of the games are on the streaming schedule, but tickets are available.