When the Furies entered this weekend's series against the Calgary Inferno, there was reason to hope it would be a well-fought matchup. Not only had they managed to take the reigning Clarkson Cup champions to overtime in both of their previous meetings this season, but due in part to the Canada - US December series, the Inferno were down to a total of 15 skaters for the weekend. Granted, the Furies were missing Natalie Spooner and Erin Ambrose, but they beat the Thunder with more players out during 4 Nations.
Saturday, December 17: 5-1 Inferno
The first period was hard fought. The Inferno were not as dominant as one would normally expect them to look, but the Furies still seemed a step behind and more than a little confused at times. They debuted new lines last weekend against the Blades, which were shifted again with the absence of Spooner, and the lack of chemistry was obvious. One of the more egregious issues were the passes. Last season, there were times Toronto couldn't make their passes connect to save their lives. Things have been much improved this season, but on Saturday they had a marked tendency to attempt to pass too far and with multiple Calgary players between passer and receiver. Despite all this - in no small part due to Christina Kessler, who had to fight off a couple of grade-A chances in the final minute - they got out of the period with no score, and the shot clock almost even at 11-9 for Calgary.
Things started to go wrong in the second period. Even with the game's first power play, and a couple of good chances from Michela Cava and Renata Fast, the Furies let the Inferno dictate control of the play and allowed far too many chances on Kessler. Finally with just over five and a half minutes left in the period the Inferno attempted a wrap-around that failed... and then didn't as Bailey Bram managed to dribble the puck into the net. Shots for the period told the tale at a dismal 13-3 for the Inferno.
The scoring came on quickly early in the third with three goals in less than 90 seconds. 0:29 A turnover by the Furies led to a breakaway by Bram and a solid shot to beat Kessler high glove side. 1:06 Iya Gavrilova (whose name was horribly mangled by the announcer) scored with a wicked shot. 1:33 Tanis Lamoureux scored her first of the season for the Furies on an opportunity that developed out of a puck battle along the boards. Lamoureux came away with the puck, had no option but to shoot - and beat Delaney Brian.
The Furies managed to hold off the Inferno for four minutes, but Kelly Terry was called for hooking (only the second penalty called all game, I am not sure what was up with the officiating) and Gavrilova sent a shot from the hash marks through traffic and past Kessler. If you haven't seen a Calgary game yet this season, keep an eye on Gavrilova, she's dangerous. That was it for Kessler as Sonja van der Bliek stepped in. Unfortunately, van der Bliek managed to let in one more from Sarah Davis to make the final score 5-1.
- Bailey Bram (2G, 2PIM)
- Iya Gavrilova (2G)
- Delaney Brian (22 saves)
Sunday, December 18: 3-1 Inferno
Emerance Maschmeyer took over in net for the Inferno on Sunday, the first indication that scoring wasn't going to come any easier for the Furies. Calgary spent a fair amount of time in the Toronto zone in the first period but the Furies did a much better job keeping the Inferno away from the net - the first Calgary shot on goal came almost four minutes into the period. Unfortunately, Bailey Bram scored her third of the weekend a little over halfway through the period. A mess behind the net moved in front and Kessler just couldn't keep it out. Still, the Furies managed to stay even on shots with 10 a piece.
The second period started out badly with a goal thirty seconds in. A battle on one side of the Toronto net led to a shot in close-quarters that looked like it was going wide, but dribbled in just past Kessler's extended leg. There were a lot more penalties called in this game and the first one of the second period (Jessica Campbell, cross-checking) led to the Furies only goal. To be quite honest I'm not sure quite what happened and without the technology for replays I can only say the power play goal was by Emily Fulton from Michela Cava. Cava followed that up with a high-energy rush that didn't quite make it all the way to the net, but looked much more like the player I've learned to expect. The Furies' penalty kill had a fair amount of work this period, including some 5-on-3 time, but no goals were scored and both Fulton and Erin Zach managed shorthanded chances. Jenelle Kohanchuk finished off the period with a last-minute attempt that was denied by Maschmeyer. Shots somehow stayed even once again, 7 each.
Fulton had an interesting shot attempt early in the third that launched not only the puck but also her opponent's stick towards the net. One thing I noticed in the first and again in the third is that Maschmeyer favours a "keep the play going" style that sometimes crosses opponents up. More than once I saw her put pucks immediately back into play that I fully expected her to hold onto. The Furies got caught on a line change at least once due to this tactic. Things were a little more physical this period - even Kessler got called for roughing in response to interference from Gavrilova. As there were less than three minutes to go Sommer West called a timeout before pulling Kessler to create a 5 on 4. Unfortunately it backfired and Louise Warren scored the empty netter that sealed the game for the Inferno.
- Bailey Bram (1G, 1A)
- Jenelle Kohanchuck (a couple of great breakaway chances including at least one shorthanded)
- Sarah Davis (1G, 1A)
Furies of note
While the lines may not have been clicking properly, there were some strong individual efforts this weekend.
In the absence of Erin Ambrose, Carlee Campbell moved up to partner Renata Fast. Fast is always a dominant player, quick-skating, hard on the puck, drawing the eye whenever she's on the ice. (Her scoring chance in the second period of the first game was a definite "how did that not go in?") While Campbell isn't quite as noticeable, she's got quite the shot and battles hard.
Carolyne Prevost did her damndest to score on Saturday, carrying the puck in, hovering around the Inferno net, generally giving the impression that if she could she'd put the team on her back and drag them to a win. She didn't lack for effort on Sunday but seemed to have lost some coordination, missing a few passes that might have let to prime scoring opportunities.
This was Erin Zach's second weekend back from an "upper body injury" (suspected concussion) and the first time I really noticed her. She assisted on the Saturday goal and had a nifty shorthanded chance on Sunday. While I think the new lines contributed to some of the team's problems this weekend, the third line of Lamoureux, Zach and Prevost looked to be the best line for the majority of both games.
Michela Cava remains tied for the rookie scoring lead this season, edged out in points per game by Brampton's Laura Stacey. As well as adding another assist to her total she consistently brought the puck into the offensive zone, although finishing up remained an issue. She also managed to break a stick in one game and got herself seriously winded in a collision with either a puck or another skater (I think the latter) in the other.
The Furies' next series will be home-and-home against the Brampton Thunder January 14 and 15, with the Saturday game at the MCC at 8:00pm. That's also the PPP meetup game (featuring an appearance from Baseball Annie) so get your tickets and come on out!