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Furies fall 4-3 to the Thunder

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Natalie Spooner garners a hat trick in the loss, as PPP goes to the MCC

Natalie Spooner (24) of the Toronto Furies Chris Tanouye | CWHL

After a pretty miserable December, the Furies came into January hoping to halt their three game losing streak and return to early season form. While there was definitely some improvement in their play, a combination of some loose defence, a much more disciplined Thunder team and some great goaltending from Erica Howe combined to extend the streak to five.

Saturday, January 13: 4-3 Thunder

Game Summary

The Furies were down three defenders (Katie Gaskin, Michelle Saunders and Sena Suzuki) for this one, as well as missing head coach Sommer West. Lines continue to be shuffled, with Jenelle Kohanchuk on the starting line with Kelly Terry and Emily Fulton while Carolyne Prevost joined Michaela Cava and Natalie Spooner on the second.

Just over a minute into the game, Brampton goalie Erica Howe came out for an equipment issue and Liz Knox stepped in for a total of 54 seconds of playing time.

The Furies had definite issues getting past the Thunder and out of their own zone and Christina Kessler’s usual quick reflexes seemed just a hair slower than normal. Eventually this led to the inevitable first goal against six and a half minutes in. Rebecca Vint fired a shot from Kessler’s left and in it went, 1-0.

Courtney Birchard was sent off for cross-checking less than a minute later, but the ensuing power play wasn’t particularly helpful. It wasn’t until the teams were back at five on five that the Furies got any extended offensive zone time - in this case from the Spooner line, which would be a theme for the evening.

Jess Vella blocked a shot and needed to be treated on the bench.

With about five and a half minutes left to go in the first period, Spooner got the puck and manoeuvred her way around defenders and up the ice at speed. A hard shot beat Howe to tie things up 1-1.

Early in the second Julie Allen was called for high-sticking, sending the Furies to the penalty kill. Erin Ambrose got the puck to Spooner and she was off from the Toronto blueline all the way up to Howe for a shorthanded goal to make it 2-1.

Teams were even strength for barely more than two minutes before Renata Fast went off for cross-checking. Jamie Lee Rattray sent a puck five hole on Kessler for the power play goal, tying the score at 2-2.

Dingledein and Prevost had chances and Kohanchuk rang one off the post, but the score stayed tied for almost ten minutes, through another ineffective Furies power play. It was the Rattray line who got the go-ahead goal on a scramble in front of Kessler. Jess Jones from Rattray and Laura Fortino, 3-2 and less than three minutes to go in the period.

Fast decided she wasn’t cool with that, so less than a minute later she came out from the defensive zone with the puck, deked around a number of Thunder defenders and handed it off to Spooner in the Brampton zone. Spooner got the hat trick goal, but the play was at least 80% the rookie.

Fast opened the third with a great chance. While play had been relatively quiet for the first two periods, the third leaned more towards the type of chippy, physical play GTA fans are used to from a Toronto - Brampton match. Vint was called for roughing, Shannon Moulson for tripping.

Kessler had a close call on the Moulson kill - a puck squeaked through her pads but didn’t quite reach the line and play was blown dead when the ref lost track of the puck. Spooner had an opportunity for a fourth goal when Howe cleared a puck right to her. She had Brampton defenders on her and couldn’t taken proper advantage.

Brampton lost a little of their discipline as the period wound down, getting called for too many men (to be clear the number of men on the ice was, as always, zero...) and later delay of game when Larocque sent a puck over the glass. Taylor Woods exacerbated the situation by sending Spooner to the ice. She was called for roughing and the Furies had a full 1:13 of 5 on 3. Fortunately for the Thunder, the Furies power play continued to fall flat.

It seemed as if the game was heading to overtime when the Rattray line took control of play yet again. Jess Jones sent the puck past Kessler with just 21 seconds left in the game. I thought I’d heard the play blown dead before the puck reached Kessler but it was called a good goal. The Furies put up a last-ditch flurry of effort in vain and the Thunder won the day at 4-3. As is pretty much tradtional, there was a bit of shoving after the final whistle.

Three Stars

  1. Natalie Spooner (3G)
  2. Jamie Lee Rattray (1G, 1A)
  3. Jess Jones (2G, 1A)

Saturday’s game was also the Fantastical Furies Festivities, when a number of PPPers got to see their first Furies game. I asked for comments on the game from my fellow masthead members.

Acting the Fulemin

Natalie Spooner was obviously God. The Furies aside from her seemed to struggle to me offensively. They over-passed on the 5-on-3; I think Campbell might have been more hesitant to try a point shot through traffic after she skyed a couple of them, but the result was she and #91 (Kohanchuk) kind of played "no, after you" even once the PP was set up--movement that didn't really move the defence. Fast for the Furies did impress me, her name is apt. Fortino strong on D for Brampton.

I didn't have the best view of the far end so a lot of the Brampton offence I didn't have a clear look on. But Rattray made a few nice moves.

Is Kessler normally good? I lack regular frame of reference.

nafio: Kessler's usually as good as any of the other starters in the league. She doesn't have to deal with the shots against volume of Dahm but last year especially a lot of goals came on the 3rd or 4th attempt rather than the 1st. With better D this year she's gotten more notice.

Fulemin: Hm. I can believe that. The extended stretches where the Furies struggled to get out of the zone really seemed like a siege for the goalie.

Brampton just seemed to consistently have the puck and the zone time to me, and then Spooner would occasionally shred them.

I did see a couple of pretty impressive point shots. Kohanchuk rifled one on net and it was the peak of the PP. But Campbell did attempt a couple that I saw too.

Baseball Annie

Fast was the most impressive of the rookies. I know Cava's had a great season, but she didn't have a good game, although not many people on the Furies had a good game.

I agree with Fulemin that the offense--other than Spooner--looked hesitant. Kessler wasn't, like, Enroth-ing it out there, but it didn't look like her best game.

Also, Vint stood out for me on Brampton. The Furies had some trouble dealing with her, possibly because of her size.

Those first two Spooner goals were classic "fuck this, I'll do it myself". Fast had a nice play on the third to set up Spooner, but those first two were unassisted in spirit if not literally. (first goal was in fact unassisted)

There was one player who was really hammering the puck, and I can't remember who Campbell, maybe? Really, I just wanted everyone to be shooting more. I felt like that asshole who yells "shoot!" constantly on the PP.

I saw Kohanchuk make some good neutral zone plays, the entire offense looked lackluster so I don't really think I can judge her offensive talent but I remember a couple "oh, that's a nice little move" plays to get the puck up the ice.

Cava didn't look bad, but after reading several of those "unexpectedly good" articles I have to say I was not impressed. Fast, though, was impressive.

Next games

Furies take on the Calgary Inferno in their last home games of the season: Saturday, January 21, 8pm and Sunday January 22, 12:30 pm. Sunday’s game is the Furies’ Heritage Game and will be broadcast live on the main Sportsnet channel. Per the league, “this game will also be streamed in the USA and for international fans by CWHL streaming partner iSi. Please follow social media closer to the game for tune in information for the geo-fenced stream.” (@TheCWHL, @TorontoCWHL, @InfernoCWHL)