January 16, 5-2 Inferno (gamesheet)
Each team has their own style of broadcast on CWHLlive, and I was quite impressed by the Inferno's opening as well as their use of ad graphics in game. Arena A at the Winsport Centre has a much higher seating capacity than the MasterCard Centre. Unfortunately, the rink was nowhere near full.
The first period got off to a slow start. The Furies seemed to be a little confused at times, leading to a lot of small mistakes. On the first Inferno goal, Christina Kessler thought she had Jill Saulnier's shot stopped and was waiting for a whistle, but the puck had slipped through her pads and Bailey Bram was there to sweep it in behind her.
Kelly Terry, Kori Cheverie and Natalie Spooner had a few nice chances this period, but Delayne Brian was on her game. The Furies' power play, especially the second one, was terrible. Jessica Campbell put one in off a rebound late in the period to make it 2-0 going into the second.
Things did improve in the second period. The Furies caught an early power play that resulted in a great chance foiled by Inferno defender Kanae Aoki. Unfortunately when Saunders went off for tripping a few minutes later, Brianne Jenner was given far too much space on the power play and she went top shelf for a beauty.
A 5-on-3 PP led to a chance for Michelle Bonello to show off her stickhandling. Spooner's slapshot became the real star, flying through traffic and Brian's pads where, similarly to the first Inferno goal, Prevost was there to make sure it got all the way into the net. (Spooner's slapshot is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but the goal was actually Prevost's.)
Less than 30 seconds later, still on the power play, Emily Fulton was lurking around the net to clean up Shannon Moulson's trash, and suddenly, the Furies were within one.
There were more chances on net, including one from Tomomi Kurata, but the Furies just couldn't quite finish their plays.
Third period started with a nasty power play goal from Elana Lovell. Jess Vella was especially active this period, contributing to a number of chances, but couldn't put it into the net. The final goal came from Jessica Campbell to put the Inferno up 5-2.
The three stars: Jessica Campbell (2G), Brianne Jenner (1A), Shannon Moulson (2A)
After the game, the players from both teams came together to pose for a #14Strong picture in support of Denna Laing
January 17, 3-2 Inferno (gamesheet)
This game was an audio stream only, making it a challenge to keep track of who was in what zone.
The game started promisingly, with players like Cheverie, Moulson and Sena Suzuki taking an active role. The first power play was spent mostly in the offensive zone, which is always a good sign. Then, almost as soon as they were back at even strength, Bram scored off an assist from Saulnier, and I actually facepalmed.
Michelle Saunders was sent off for her first of three penalties in the game. Campbell, Jenner and Bridgette Lacquette, who had been so effective on the power play the day before, made the Furies pay again.
The Furies got down to business at that point. Spooner spent most of the next penalty kill with the puck on her stick. A number of chances followed, with the Furies staying in the offensive zone, but the comments "not connecting to anyone" and "a pass to no one" kept being repeated throughout the period.
The commentators characterized the start of the second period as "tentative".
Spooner had a great shorthanded chance broken up by former Amazing Race teammate Meaghan Mikkelson. Bonello got called for bodychecking, giving the Inferno over a minute of 5-on-3. By the grace of Kessler, the Furies survived.
During the 5-on-3, one of the penalty killers apparently lost her stick, so there were a few seconds of 5 on 2. Fortunately, this wasn't mentioned until after the kill was over so I was spared the heart palpitations.
A number of chances were exchanged with Moulson and Cheverie stepping up again. The Furies pressed hard during a late-period power play, but nothing got through Brian.
The broadcast of the third period became a bit more interesting with the addition of Inferno defender Erica Kromm as colour commentator. "You're nervous for the one listener, aren't you?" (Hey there were 16 people listening at that point!) Her insight regarding things the Inferno were trying to work on and enthusiasm for the play of both teams was a great bonus.
Cheverie went off early for bodychecking but redeemed herself when she got out of the box by scoring the Furies' first goal. Kromm called it "play you see during playoff hockey - going to the net, going hard." Spooner's assist kept her within one of league points leader Marie-Philip Poulin.
Stevenson followed it up three minutes later with her third goal of the season. It sounded like she was the beneficiary of a deflection off an Inferno player or even off Brian. Tie game with 9:26 to go!
The Inferno came on hard, with Kessler having some great saves and a little luck to keep the Jenner line off the board. Saunders went off for bodychecking, but Kessler held fast, and Prevost managed to get Vella a nice shorthanded chance. A hard shot in one end from Lacquette was answered by an excellent chance for Moulson in the other. Finally, with 2:22, to go Jenner managed to go five-hole on Kessler for the go-ahead goal.
The three stars: Brianne Jenner (1G, 1A), Bailey Bram (1G, 1A), Christina Kessler (29 saves on 32 shots)
First recaps where I wasn't at the rink for either game! In some ways, having commentators made it easier, as someone else was keeping track of who has the puck and could be semi-reliable at telling me names. On the other hand, it was a little harder to stay engaged when I had my computer on with its many distractions. Goals against were definitely worse hearing someone be enthusiastic about them.
Away games always mean a shorter bench. As well as the usual suspects on the IR, Baldin, Gaskin, Lamoureux and Wilson stayed behind due to off-ice commitments. This meant increased ice time for a few players, including Tomomi Kurata. Baldin is currently second in Furies points behind Spooner and her absence was definitely felt.
Next week is the All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre, Saturday January 23 at 1:00 pm. Tickets are $10 (when do you get a chance at lower bowl ACC tickets for $10), and if last year's was any example, it should be a lot of fun. If you can't make it down, the game will be on Sportsnet at 3:00pm.
I was checking with RealSports about Furies jersey availability and found out they are aware of Saturday's events, so my fingers are crossed for merch from multiple teams at the game.