Toronto Furies vs Kunlun Red Star 0-2
Last night’s games started off with Kunlun Red Star facing off against the Toronto Furies for the second time this weekend. This time, Furies head coach Jeff Flanagan had arrived in China and was present on the bench. Instead of Sonja van der Bliek in net, Amanda Makela made her first career CWHL start in net for the Furies, opposite Noora Räty for Kunlun.
After about five minutes of back-and-forth play with neither team looking particularly dangerous, Red Star scored on one of the weirder goals I’ve seen this year—Beiwei Yu’s dump-in from the blue line took a funny bounce and got past Makela. Yu’s goal makes her the first Chinese-born player to score a CWHL goal, which is pretty cool, even if that goal was scored against Toronto.
Tough bounce to start the game. pic.twitter.com/juBJ3DqEOo— Toronto Furies (@TorontoCWHL) November 19, 2017
A few minutes later, Kelli Stack added to her goal total when a miscommunication between Sydney Kidd and Jessica O’Grady behind the net led to a giveaway. A wide-open Stack pounced on the loose puck and put it in for her ninth goal of the season, because Kelli Stack is out here scoring at will, basically.
It might seem funny to say it after describing two goals, but as the period went on Kunlun started to settle in and open up offensively. They put 19 shots on Makela in the first period, but fortunately for Toronto, as the game went on their goalie seemed to settle in too. Makela looked increasingly steady, and made several nice stops during a Kunlun power play after Jenna Dingeldein was sent off for hooking. I also liked what I saw from the Furies penalty kill otherwise—they were managing to disrupt a lot of Kunlun’s cycle and force turnovers, which helped keep a power play with a lot of offensive weapons from looking as scary as it might have otherwise.
The Furies offense also had a their share of chances—Dingeldein stood out with a few, including a nice backhand shot Räty saved. Julie Allen had an opportunity after Red Star turned the puck over behind their own net, but she couldn’t manage to put away her shot or her own rebound.
More than the first, the second period featured back-and-forth chances, but no scoring. Shannon Stewart started the Furies off with a nice breakaway chance, and soon after that Carolyne Prévost’s line with Jess Vella and Emily Fulton (I think) (tucked-in jerseys + webstream = occasional spitballing on numbers) had a nifty little passing sequence around the zone that resulted in a scoring chance. After the Furies were called for too many players on the ice, another turnover forced by the Furies penalty kill led to a shorthanded breakaway chance. (Again, I think it was Prévost, but obscured numbers and my terrible eyesight make this hard).
The problem is, scoring on Noora Räty is difficult, or so I have heard. The Furies really weren’t managing to get the kind of post-to-post movement and rebound opportunities you need to score on a goaltender of her caliber, and it led to their chances not looking all that threatening. They did a nice job of snarling up Kunlun’s movement through the neutral zone, and actually outshot them in the period, 9-6.
Melanie Jue was called for tripping about twelve minutes in, giving us our first look at the Furies powerplay. Despite getting some really nice passing and puck movement in, they didn’t really manage any dangerous-looking chances. This is sort of a theme for the night.
The Furies opened the period on the power play, after Yu was called for cross-checking at 19:55 of the second. This was a period full of penalties—seven in all, four for Toronto and three for Kunlun—none of which were converted into goals. The Furies penalty kill continued to look thoroughly decent, which was a nice bright spot to have in this game, and Makela made a number of great saves.
She also had a fantastic paddle save on Zoe Hickel from behind the net, one that I thought for sure would be a goal. As I expected, the Hickel-Stack-Darkangelo line was the hockey equivalent of the fire emoji. They’re really damn good.
After a delayed tripping call, Kunlun took a shot on Makela and then were able to hang onto the puck in the Furies zone for a chunk of time afterwards. It was an unusual level of uninterrupted zone time for them, until finally the Furies managed to get control. More than anything, that’s a statement about how successfully the Furies were limiting Red Star’s ability to get in the zone and get set up. The Furies team that showed up in the second and third periods was a pleasant surprise; I know that after the first, I was braced for poor Makela to get shelled.
Melanie Jue’s tripping penalty with three minutes left gave the Furies a late opportunity to mount a comeback, but no luck. Given the amount of point shots they hammered on the powerplay, particularly that late one, you have to imagine that they missed Carlee Campbell (and her shot) a good deal. While the Furies did seem to have some trouble holding the zone with Makela pulled, they managed to keep Kunlun from tacking on an empty netter (including a heroic diving play to redirect the puck at one point), and the game wrapped up with a 2-0 Kunlun win.
- It was nice to see the Furies remember how to defense and then put it into action. They went from allowing 19 shots in the first period to a combined twelve in the second and third, despite also giving Kunlun five powerplays in the last two periods. If there’s a big positive to take away from this game, it’s that.
- Prévost, Vella, and Fulton are fun together. More of this please, Furies. Dingeldein also stood out to me on the offensive side of things.
- Makela’s night started off badly, but especially in the second and third periods, she was rock-solid. I was impressed by her ability to shake off those first two goals, which is definitely not how any goalie imagines her first CWHL start beginning.
- There wasn’t a lot of rough stuff this game, other than Brooke Beazer and Rachel Llanes taking offsetting roughing minors after a scramble in the crease. I think the refs wanted to nip any chance of nonsense in the bud as soon as they saw it start.
- Digit Murphy’s red and gold scarf was some quality Coach Fashion.
3. Amanda Makela (29 saves)
2. Zoe Hickel (1 assist)
1. Beiwei Yu (1 goal)
Markham Thunder vs Vanke Rays 2-5
The speed of this game seemed much slower than last game skating-wise most of the time, although both teams showed they had an extra gear when the opportunity arose. When it came to scoring, Vanke picked right up where they'd left off, scoring three goals on Liz Knox in less than five minutes.
Ashleigh Brykaliuk was first, scoring unassisted just over 90 seconds in. Cayley Mercer scored next, roofing a backhand from in close. Hanna Bunton completed the sequence of "why it is Bad to let the opposing team too close to your net" with a wraparound.
The Thunder called a timeout immediately following the third goaI —presumably so Jim Jackson could tell his team to start keeping the Rays away from the net.
The first penalty of the game went to Vanke's Yue Lv for tripping. The power play yielded only one good opportunity for Markham as the Rays generally kept the puck of their own zone.
A little over eight minutes into the game Jenna McParland collided awkwardly with a Vanke player as they both raced to the boards in search of the puck. One leg went a completely different direction from the rest of her body. The trainer was called out and eventually McParland was helped off the ice and down the tunnel. The Thunder are already carrying a short bench this season, if McParland is out any length of time this could be big trouble.
Karolina Urban was called for a bodycheck at 13:28 resulting in one of Markham’s better penalty kills. Taylor Woods got a shorthanded breakaway that was interfered with so blatantly that not only was Ashleigh Brykaliuk sent off for hooking but the Shenzhen audience got to witness their first CWHL penalty shot! Sadly, Woods couldn’t seal the deal.
Jamie Lee Rattray went off for slashing near the end of the Brykaliuk penalty. Lindsay Grigg came up big for her team during that kill, making a stick save that kept the puck out of the net long enough for Knox to get back into position. Woods got herself another shorthanded chance but was stopped before she got to the net.
Rattray managed to score with just over thirty seconds left in the period, on a play that showed her determination as much as it showcased her ability to keep control of the puck. She came in with speed and forced Elaine Chuli to make a save, but pretty much stole the puck right back off Chuli’s pads, sweeping it around the goalie’s outstretched leg for the goal.
.@ratt26 with a beauty goal to put the @ThunderCWHL on the board. Used her speed to get the puck and her hands to drag Chuli out of position. Vanke lead 3-1 over Thunder #CWHLLive #CWHL pic.twitter.com/YTspxTCtAU— Women's Sports Highlights (@WSportHilites) November 19, 2017
The celebration was short-lived as Devon Skeats was called for hooking nine seconds later and the Thunder ended the period on the penalty kill again.
With the Rays up a player to start the second, Hanna Bunton took advantage of the power play to score her second goal of the game. There was a lot more back and forth play this period, but the Rays were still getting too many chances in close to the net.
Rattray cut another power play (Bunton, slashing) short with a bodycheck. The Thunder looked good 4 on 4 but that’s not the sort of thing you want to see happening twice in a game.
Emily Janiga was called for a high stick with 34 seconds left in the period, so it was Markham’s turn to start a period on the power play.
There was a slight delay to start the third as the refs had to sort out a small divot in the ice. From the lack of random falls in the three games I’ve seen so far I’d venture that the ice in Shenzhen is better than your typical CWHL ice but that’s two games where a hole appeared where a hole should not be, especially after the ice has just been resurfaced.
The Thunder didn’t score on the Janiga power play but did keep the momentum going for a while afterwards, gaining the Rays zone a little more frequently than they had in earlier periods. They had two more power plays in the third, both of which looked much improved — not a lot of shots, but very little time outside the offensive zone.
The fifth goal was mostly an unfortunate bounce for Knox. She dove to smother the puck but it skipped up and over her outstretched body, into the net.
Karolina Urban took a little of the scoring pressure off of Rattray, roofing a rebound off of Chuli’s pads.
.@UrbanKarolina scores on the PP. She pops home the rebound from her own tip. Nicole Brown with her first point of the season getting the assist, along with @dsimmonds19. Vanke lead 5-2 over @ThunderCWHL pic.twitter.com/Kr5fsZJCqo— Women's Sports Highlights (@WSportHilites) November 19, 2017
The Thunder had a lot more chances in the third period, but the Rays were up to the task, making the final score 5-2 for Vanke.
The game appeared to be broadcast on Chinese television, as there were a few random dry scrapes after stoppages.
Liz Knox has got to stop playing the puck. Not only does it take her further out of the net than one generally likes to see one’s goalie, she had a worrying tendency to have the puck end up on a Vanke stick.
With McParland out and Kosta and McIntosh absent, the Thunder are down to exactly nine forwards. You can roll three lines for a couple of games but those are going to be three tired lines.
3. Jamie Lee Rattray, Markham Thunder (1 goal)
2. Hanna Bunton, Vanke Rays (2 goals, 1 assist)
1. Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Vanke Rays (1 goal, 2 assists)
The Furies start a two-game series against the Rays on Wednesday at 6:30 am, while the Thunder get the early game at 1:00 am against Kunlun Red Star. Both games will be available online.