In Saturday’s game the Furies managed three goals on 15 shots against Toni Ross, arguably the Inferno's third goalie. Unfortunately they found that 15 shots were not enough to get one past Calgary's current hot hand, Lindsay Post, falling to the Inferno 2-0.
The only change to Toronto's lineup today was a switch in backup goalies. Amanda Makela, in her gorgeous new mask, warmed the bench in place of Sami Jo Small.
The lnferno came out fast right from the first puck drop. There's a noticeable difference in skill and speed with all the centralized players out (10 in total) but this is still a quick, tight team. More than once they dominated play in the Furies zone, cycling the puck and playing keep-away. If anything, they had an issue with not shooting enough.
We got to see the Furies power play four times today (as opposed to zero on Saturday). They generated a few good chances, and seemed to be relying less on slap shots from the point than in earlier games, but struggled to keep the puck in the offensive zone, particularly near the end of the penalties.
Unfortunately, it was while Toronto was on the penalty kill that Calgary got their first goal. Jessica Platt was called for delay of game at 10:48 in the second period, a call that involved much discussion with both teams and an explanation to the Toronto bench. A puck went over the glass. I couldn’t swear it was Platt, I couldn’t swear it wasn’t. I’m also not sure why an earlier similar play wasn’t called. However, the Inferno didn’t need much of the advantage. The announcer was still halfway through announcing the penalty when Rhianna Kurio scored to put Calgary up 1-0. It was a fast, very likely set play off the faceoff that apparently involved (the play took 10 seconds, I can only notice so much) both Iya Gavrilova and Katelyn Gosling as they got the assists.
I’m not actually sure it was on purpose but this game saw a lot of bodies go crashing into the boards with alarming volume. Worst off was Carlee Campbell, who went down hard along the boards less than halfway into the second period and went off clutching her arm. As far as I could tell, she never returned to the ice. If that’s a long-term injury for Campbell, the Furies are going to miss her.
About four minutes after Campbell went off and less than five after the first goal, the Furies let in another, this time from a bit of a defensive miscue. Three Inferno players came into the Furies zone almost simultaneously. The Furies defense paid attention to the puck carriers (alternately Erica Kromm and former Boston Blade Dakota Woodworth) and allowed Brittany Esposito far too much time and space all by herself. Kromm got the puck to Esposito, and with a clear lane to the net, Esposito didn’t miss.
In general I don’t think the team played noticeably worse than Saturday—it was more a case of Calgary stepping up. More than once I thought Toronto had something going, only for someone to miss the net, Post to stop a shot, or Calgary to otherwise regain possession and keep the heat on. Looking at the game sheet, the Furies took 16 minutes of penalties to the Inferno’s 8, which tells me that maybe 36 shots against isn’t that bad. That said, eight shots in the first period followed by five in the second and two in the third is not how anyone but the very very lucky win a game.
I do want to highlight the line of Julie Allen, Jenna Dingeldein and Brittany Zuback. I almost always notice when they’re on the ice and stuff seems to happen when they are - it’s just that scoring doesn’t seem to be one of those things often enough. I’m hoping that changes.
Currently Toronto has the lowest Goals For (9) in the league. While they are currently on the lower end in terms of total games played, it’s a worrying trend. It’s frustrating precisely because I think this might be as good as this team gets. The level they showed this weekend is probably enough to beat Markham on a consistent basis and likely Boston (for all it sounds like they’ve improved) as well. They’ve shown they can beat other teams with a bit of luck. But as the season has shown so far, .500 hockey is not good enough to make it into the playoffs anymore.
3. Sonja van der Bliek, Toronto Furies (34 saves)
2. Iya Gavrilova, Calgary Inferno (1 A)
1. Brittany Esposito, Calgary Inferno (1 G)
The Toronto Furies and the Markham Thunder will be the first North American CWHL teams to travel to China to take on the Kunlun Red Star and Vanke Rays on November 18, 19, 22 and 24. Most games are at 2:00 or 7:30 pm Chinese Standard Time (1:00 am and 6:30 am EST) and about half will be available online. Yes, we’re gonna try and recap all of them.