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CWHL Recap: Red Star sweep the Furies, Thunder fall to Rays in the shootout

PPP’s Furies Fete did not turn out to be fantastic.

Kelli Stack #16 of the Kunlun Red Star with the puck. Dave Holland/The CWHL

Toronto Furies vs Kunlun Red Star 0-6

The one problem with having PPP come to a Furies game is that this will probably be the most scrutinized recap of the season. (Feel free to tell me what I missed in the comments, guys.)

The goals

1-0 The first Kunlun goal was mostly a case of too many players from both teams in front of Sonja van der Bliek. She just did not see the shot from Kelli Stack coming. Assists went to Jessica Wong and Alex Carpenter. (Carpenter is listed on the official roster as “Alexandra Carpenter” but it reads very “Mitchell Marner” and I can’t.)

2-0 Jenna Dingeldein was called for hooking and Carpenter slid a puck five-hole on van der Bliek on a play off the faceoff just twenty-one seconds into the power play. Stack had the assist.

3-0 Jessica Wong blasted a shot from the point early in the second period. Again, there were players in front and van der Bliek saw it coming but just a hair too late and the puck just barely squeaked under her pad. Assists from Stack and Zoe Hickel.

4-0 Sydney Kidd went off for hooking. Hickel, Stack and Carpenter went tic-tac-toe on the ensuing power play and Carpenter left van der Bliek sprawled in front of the goal.

5-0 This goal from Stack was unreal. She rang a shot off one post and was there for the rebound on the other side of the net. Not that many people get this sort of a chance, but this would be how one beats Noora Räty.

6-0 In case anyone had any doubts about how good Alex Carpenter is, she scored a hat trick in her second CWHL game. Similar to the previous goal, a rebound came off van der Bliek’s pads on one side of the net and Carpenter was there on the other side to send it into the open net. Assists went to Stack and Taylor Marchin.

The chances

There were a few times that Toronto looked like they might just score on Räty but luck wasn’t with them.

Late in the first, Jessica Platt had a couple of shots from the point, one of which resulted in a rebound with another player in front.

A few minutes after her, Carlee Campbell sent one of her signature blasts in with a teammate taking away Räty’s eyes. Unfortunately she couldn’t quite manage to get the tip to go in and after some fumbling, Räty made the save.

In the first minute of the second period, someone tried to feed Jenna Dingeldein a breakout pass. She got a stick on it but couldn’t control the puck and Räty smothered it with her glove. Dingeldein got another opportunity about ten minutes later.

Jess Vella got a chance coming in behind Hayley Williams. Smart idea, trying to have the goalie focused on the puck carrier before the shooter takes a shot, but it didn’t work on Räty.

Platt had another shot in the third that would have gone in had Räty been a little slower to stand up. As it was, the puck hit her shoulder and rather than going up and over into the net, went up and out.

Notes

There were good things and bad things about the Furies play compared to Saturday’s game. One of the positive signs was that they got a lot more shots on net, especially early on in the game. Noora Räty had 12 shots to deal with in the first, as opposed to four in the first yesterday. In total, shots ended up being 32-28 in favour of the Red Star, a much better distribution than Saturday’s 38-16.

Unfortunately, they took their foot off the gas in other respects, one being that they gave the Red Star too much time and space in their own zone, letting them re-set instead of pressing the advantage. The issue there might be that line changes need to happen more quickly, which has been a bit of a recurring theme for the Furies. In this game in particular, Räty showed a tendency to wander away from her net and play the puck, something that an opportunistic Furies player might have been able to take advantage of.

Fatigue was likely a factor in today’s game for all the Furies. Sonja van der Bliek looked very good, just not as world-beating as she did the day before.

Special teams were an issue. As mentioned in yesterday’s recap, the Kunlun power play is a daunting collection of players, so the fact that they went 2 for 2 today was likely not all Toronto’s fault. The Furies power play units got five opportunities and in some cases got one shot or fewer on goal while allowing a couple of shorthanded chances.

It likely sounds strange to anyone looking at the final score, but defence was generally not the problem. There was more good stick work to take pucks away (Shannon Moulson was especially notable here). Defenders were focusing on the puck carrier rather than the puck itself. Rebounds were still turning into zone entries, although not as consistently. Kunlun was using their speed more tactically than they had before and this spread out the Toronto players, even though everyone was mostly sticking with their assignments.

A great result from van der Bliek’s amazing play on Saturday was that Red Star players gave her almost too much respect. Puck carriers were trying drop passes to their teammate behind instead of shooting, and a lot of those passes didn’t connect, sometimes sailing right out into the neutral zone.

It was pointed out to me that Annina Rajahuhta was wearing number 9 for Kunlun before Carpenter showed up. Rajahuhta was added to the team late as an injury replacement — this may mean her time is up. Certainly, she was not in the lineup this weekend.

One note I forgot to include in Saturday’s game. Carolyne Prévost was awarded an assist on one of the goals in the Furies game against Boston last week, which continued her point streak. The shutout yesterday finally ended the streak at 14 points in eight games.

Three Stars

3 Noora Räty, Kunlun Red Star (28 saves)

2 Alex Carpenter, Kunlun Red Star (3G, 1A)

1 Kelli Stack, Kunlun Red Star (2G, 4A)

Markham Thunder vs Vanke Rays 2-3 (SO)

After beating the Vanke Rays 6-3 yesterday, the Markham Thunder went for the sweep this afternoon. Elaine Chuli, who was in net for Vanke yesterday and faced 46 shots, started for the Rays. Since Liz Knox played yesterday, the second half of Markham’s platoon, Erica Howe, started for the Thunder.

There was no scoring until the first minute of the second intermission, when Jamie Lee Rattray continued her tear through the CWHL with a goal for Markham (after some confusion about whether or not the goal belonged to her). The lead lasted less than a minute before Vanke’s Xin Fang tied it. It was Fang’s fourth goal and fifth point in the last five games; she leads Chinese-born players in league scoring.

Rattray would retake the lead for the Thunder in the third, scoring shorthanded while Devon Skeats was in the box for holding. Unfortunately for Markham, they couldn’t hang on to the lead. Taylor Woods took an interference penalty near the end of the period, and Emily Janiga scored with a minute and a half left to tie the game for Vanke and send them into overtime. The game ended up going to a shootout, in which Vanke’s Emma Woods was the lone scorer. Vanke won the game, 3-2, and Markham had to settle for a three-point weekend.

Three Stars

3. Elaine Chuli, Vanke Rays (44 saves)

2. Devon Skeats, Markham Thunder (4 PIM)

1. Jamie Lee Rattray, Markham Thunder (2G)

Next weekend, the Thunder host Red Star and Toronto hosts Montréal. The Saturday Furies game has been moved to 2:00 pm in Sarnia as part of the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada activities. Initially the game was to be streamed on the CWHL website, but it’s not clear if the change of venue affects that - hopefully we’ll get an answer from the league on that in time for WHW.