Saturday November 19: 2 - 1 Furies
Before the game the CWHL announced the league had been awarded an Ontario Trillium Grant which would allow the league to set up skills clinics with various local girls leagues. Representatives from six partner leagues came together for the ceremonial puck drop, and players from those leagues were given free admission if they wore their jersey to the game.
Danielle Gagné made her CWHL debut due to the absences of Erin Zach, who was injured last weekend in Calgary, and Jenna Dingeldein.
Charline Labonté was announced as a scratch for Montreal, however backup Catherine Herron came into the weekend with one win against Toronto already this season.
1st period: 1-0 Canadiennes
Coach Sommer West chose to start the game by facing off the Prevost-Terry-Fulton line against the Poulin line.
This was a very closely defended game early on, with no one given much space by either team. Any missed pass caused a change in flow, and interceptions were frequent.
Shannon Moulson went off for hooking as the period approached the halfway mark and it took the Canadiennes precisely 62 seconds to score on the power play. Caroline Ouellette got the goal in a scrum in front of Christina Kessler. The puck bounced up off either Kessler’s stick or pads and flew over her shoulder for a goal.
The Canadiennes seemed to generally be the faster team, but they also got themselves caught offside far more often than the Furies.
The Furies got their first power play with 4:10 left in the period. It wasn't the tightest power play ever, but with four more in the game, things fortunately improved with practice.
One bad habit that the Kohanchuk - Cava - Spooner line (as well as the power play) started to fall into was acting like Natalie Spooner was the only one on the ice capable of scoring. Get in the zone, puck to Spooner. See Spooner heading up the wing, puck to Spooner. In the Furies’ defense, the Canadiennes kept letting it happen, but they weren’t letting Spooner score.
SOG Furies 7 Canadiennes 8
2nd Period: 1-1 Furies
Toronto had a lot of early chances including a Kelly Terry cross-crease pass that Herron got a glove on, Prevost from Spooner, and a hard shot by Moulson. The flurry of chances led to plenty of frustrated groans from the crowd.
Marie-Philip Poulin attempted to score by climbing defender Erin Ambrose like a tree. She basically tried to chip the puck between Ambrose’s legs and then climb up and over the entirely vertical Ambrose as if she’d be able to do that and maintain possession. MPP is good, but she’s not that good.
Cathy Chartrand was sent off for interference as the period entered its second half. Spooner seemed to have one good opportunity, but while there were plenty of bodies in front of the net to receive her centering pass, no one managed to get it in the net. The same power play allowed two shorthanded chances. The third time the puck came back into the Furies zone Kessler came well out of her net to play it.
The third power play (Sophie Brault, crosschecking) was much better, and the fourth (Chartrand again, roughing) was better still - the pressure they applied hadn't let up yet when Jenelle Kohanchuk tied the game up with 11 seconds left in the period. It was an even strength goal by only a few seconds, but the power play definitely contributed.
SOG Furies 14, Canadiennes 3
3rd Period: 2-1 Furies
The Furies were called offside for possibly the first time all game. (Allen carrying the puck, Gagné a step ahead).
One thing that particularly stood out is how Toronto made good use of the boards, either to get the puck around behind the net to someone else, or, in at least one case, Fulton shot a puck at the boards at an angle that had the puck bounce out in front of the net. Home advantage being used to the fullest.
The boards were not needed to score the game winning goal. Kelly Terry let one fly from fairly far out less than five minutes into the period. Herron flat out misjudged the angle and her frustration was apparent afterwards.
Moulson went off for another penalty less than a minute later, and one of the resulting shots on goal seriously rattled Kessler. Not sure if it was just too hard from too close or possibly hit her in the mask but she had to take a bit of a skate to settle herself and her teammates checked in a couple of times during stoppages.
Of course they didn't show their solicitousness by keeping the puck out of her zone. The Canadiennes pressed and Kessler had to be good. Fortunately, Kessler is very good.
Late in the period the announcer called out “Let’s go Furies fans. Let’s make some noise!” In the midst of the cheering, a puck sailed over the glass and into a fan’s lap to much laughter.
The end of the game was particularly frustrating from a Montreal standpoint. The Canadiennes had some trouble with late icings and went offside with seconds left in the game. The used their timeout, but once the game resumed there was more ref confusion resulting in a faceoff at center ice with less than five seconds to go.
3. Catherine Herron (28 saves)
2. Kelly Terry (GWG)
1. Jenelle Kohanchuk (1G, 1A)
Sunday November 20: 5 - 2 Furies
Due partly to a lack of personnel, Sommer West mixed up the Furies lines for game two, putting Jenelle Kohanchuk on a line with Kelly Terry and Emily Fulton, Natalie Spooner with Carolyne Prevost and Jess Vella and a third line of Michaela Cava with Julie Allen and Danielle Gagné. And hey, you can't argue with success.
1st period: 3-0 Furies
This was not Catherine Herron's finest period. The first goal of the game came barely over a minute in. Michaela Cava seemed to fake a shot, such that everyone was looking at the goal to see where the puck was...only for it to slide on past Herron blocker side a second later.
It was obvious the goal had shaken the Montreal goalie - she was very quick to stop play on a couple of fairly harmless plays around the net soon after. Unfortunately her nerves didn't keep her alert enough not to fall for a very similar goal about 90 seconds later - she overcommitted glove side and Julie Allen fired one in low blocker side from well back of the hash marks.
With five and a half minutes gone in the period Emanuelle Blais headed to the box for her third (but not last) time in the weekend, this time for a crosscheck. The Furies' power play needed just over thirty seconds to score. Natalie Spooner sent a slapshot five hole. Herron thought she had it but somehow Julie Allen managed to get the puck to squeak through into the net for her second goal of the game.
There was no more scoring for the rest of the period, although the Canadiennes got called for hooking twice and tripping once (and on at least one of those I must confess I have no idea what the refs saw). The Furies only took one penalty in the period, a crosschecking call on Allen that turned most of a power play into a 4 on 4.
While Montreal spent a good deal of time in the Furies' zone in the latter half of the period it seemed as if they spent more time fighting to keep the puck than actually bothering Kessler. The Furies doubled them up on SOG, out-shooting the Canadiennes 12-6 in the period.
2nd period: 3-1 Furies
The Furies started the period on the power play but any momentum was temporarily halted when Christina Kessler had some sort of equipment issue around one of her skates (or possibly the strap for one of her pads - something came off of something and a good deal of concentrated fussing from several teammates seemed to be necessary to put things to rights).
Toronto took a timeout fairly early on after an icing call - perhaps Coach West thought they needed to get their heads back in the game. Conversely Herron had definitely found her groove at the other end of the ice. She looked much more alert and handled everything the Furies threw at her.
Montreal stepped up the pressure in the second half of the period. Shannon Moulson went to the box for interference, and while the resulting power play wasn't particularly impressive, she hadn't been back on the ice more than a few seconds before the Canadiennes scored. Laurianne Rougeau managed a great goal from her knees, getting the puck just under Kessler's pad.
The goal energized the Canadiennes a bit and there was a lot of back and forth play for the rest of the period, although the Furies stuck as close to their assigned opponents as they had on Saturday. Shots on goal were 9 - 5 for the Canadiennes.
3rd period: 5-2 Furies
Jenelle Kohanchuk was called for hooking right at the end of the second period so the Furies started the period on the kill. Kelly Terry came quite close with a short handed chance but ultimately it was Montreal who profited from the power play. Noémie Marin got the puck into the net from a mess of players in front of Kessler with about half a minute to go in the powerplay. There was a little pushing and shoving before the Canadiennes managed to separate themselves from the Furies long enough to celebrate.
Both Herron and Kessler had some work to do in the early part of the period as both teams managed chances on the net. Frankly, if it wasn't for some stellar work by Kessler, Montreal might have taken this one. Most of the period was spent in the Furies' zone - it seemed as if every time the Furies got the puck down to the other end it was only to chip it in long enough for a line change and the Canadiennes were on their way back through the neutral zone.
As is tradition when Montreal comes to town a small but loud and organized group of Canadiennes fans attended the game. The girls team from Saugeen Shores who had made the trip into town to sing the anthem attempted to counter them during this period by trying to start the wave.
The Furies finally got a break with less than four minutes left in the period - Terry sent a sharp-angled shot off the post up high and in to get the insurance goal. Less than a minute later she was sent off for holding, so there was 2:11 left in the period, Montreal pulled the goalie and had two full minutes of 6 on 4. The cheer that went up when Renata Fast made appropriate use of the empty net in the last minute of play was at least partly relief.
3. Caroline Ouellette
2. Kelly Terry (1G, 2 PIM)
1. Julie Allen (2G, 1 A, 2 PIM)
Furies of note
As usual, Emily Fulton was doing everything she could to score, including sending a shot towards the net even as she hit the ice Bobby Orr style (which got Noémie Marin a hooking penalty). She also tried to find room go skate between two Canadiennes where there was no actual room to be had. She did assist on Saturday's game winning goal.
With two goals and second star of the game in both games, Kelly Terry had herself quite the weekend.
Carolyne Prevost didn't manage a point this weekend but it wasn't for lack of effort. She had quite a few close calls.
Christina Kessler wasn't particularly busy in the first game, but made 30 saves on Sunday, almost half of them in the third period. One particular glove save right on the goal line was an argument all by itself for broadcast of every single CWHL game. I mourn the lack of footage.
Danielle Gagné fit in nicely in her first two professional games. Not as flashy as some of the other rookies on the team she still managed a few chances on net in each game.
It didn't result in a goal but Michaela Cava showed off some gorgeous stickhandling.
It was nice to see Sena Suzuki back in the lineup, but she ended up on ice after body contact at least three times in the first game. She carried on like a trooper.
The Furies have next weekend off and then will play December 3 at Brampton and 4 in Barrie vs Brampton, with neither game broadcast. (s/t to @TrevorDown6 for the location correction)
The next home games will be December 10 (in Stratford at William Allman Arena as part of Hockey Day in Canada) and December 11 against Boston.