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Toronto Furies to feature in CWHL Sportsnet schedule

First television broadcast of the season will be January 28th against the Calgary Inferno.

Hayley Williams, wearing Furies home blue uniform skates between Taylor Woods (in front) and Jamie Lee Rattray (coming up from behind), both wearing Thunder road whites with green accents.  Chris Tanouye - CWHL

Sportsnet will broadcast three regular season Canadian Women’s Hockey League games for the 2017-18 season. According to the CWHL’s supervisor of communications, Jordon Hall, the Toronto Furies will be featured in two of the three games.

As with last season, the Furies annual You Can Play game will be the first game on the schedule, at 1:00 pm EST on Sunday January 28th against the Calgary Inferno. The game will be broadcast live on the main Sportsnet channel (Sportsnet Ontario, East, West and Pacific) immediately following the 2018 NHL All-Star Skills competition and leading into the 2018 NHL All-Star game.

The second game will be an intra-GTA game hosted by the Markham Thunder at 1:00 pm EST on Saturday February 3rd. Again, the game is set to be broadcast live on the main Sportsnet channel (Sportsnet Ontario, East, West and Pacific). The Thunder’s recent acquisition of 2014 Olympic silver medalist and 2018 World champion Megan Bozek should be handy in marketing that particular game.

The final game will take place in Montréal on Saturday March 10th at 5:30 pm EST, when les Canadiennes de Montréal will face off against the Calgary Inferno in yet another rematch of the most recent two Clarkson Cup finals.

It’s unfortunate that none of the games available to a television audience will feature the league’s newest teams, especially given that Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays currently sit second and fourth in the standings. Whether this has anything to do with Sportsnet’s heavy emphasis on Canadian teams in their NHL schedule is unknown.

CWHL on Sportsnet schedule

Date Time Teams
Date Time Teams
Sunday January 28 1:00 pm EST Inferno @ Furies
Saturday February 3 1:00 pm EST Furies @ Thunder
Saturday March 10 5:30 pm EST Inferno @ Canadiennes

The scheduling of the first game is clearly aiming to draw in fans who will be watching the events of the NHL All-Star Weekend, which would be a boost for the league. Unfortunately it might also be the most lopsided of the three matches.

The fact that two of the three games take place in the GTA is very likely for the convenience of the Sportsnet technical crew, but the best game in terms of quality of competition as well as league stars will be the final game on the schedule.

Les Canadiennes de Montréal and the Calgary Inferno have developed quite a rivalry in recent years, and their games are always an exciting match-up. More significantly, it will be the only one of the regular season games late enough in the season to potentially feature returning Olympians. While Megan Bozek, Erica Howe (Markham Thunder), Sami Jo Small (Toronto Furies), Sophie Shirley and Iya Gavrilova (Calgary Inferno) may be at least somewhat familiar names to women’s hockey fans from their international play, the draw of players like Marie-Philip Poulin (Canadiennes de Montréal) just back from Pyeongchang can’t be understated.

For Canadian viewers without cable, the games will likely be available via the Sportsnet Now app and the CWHL has previously made streams of Sportsnet games available on their website to international viewers only.

The original version of this article mentioned “Saturday, January 28th”. January 28, 2018 is a Sunday.