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CWHL Recap: Thunder sweep Blades 4-1, Furies shut out by Rays

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The Thunder put 50 shots on net and suddenly Noora Räty’s 26 save shutout seems less impressive.

Helmets of the Markham Thunder sit on the bench with the green-and-white painted goalie helmets closest to the camera Teri Di-Lauro - CWHL

Markham Thunder 4 - Worcester Blades 1 (Game Summary)

Alexis Woloschuk and Kelly Gribbons are announced in the arena as scratches for the Markham Thunder. A keen eye spots Woloschuk dressed for the game, so we know that’s not true. Now that Dania Simmonds is retired, the Thunder need an additional defender.

Liz Knox is in net with Erica Howe on the bench. Jocelyne Larocque is paired with Megan Bozek today on defense. And yesterday’s second line consisting of Jamie Lee Rattray, Kristen Richards and Victoria Bach have been moved to first. I guess coach Jim Jackson is playing around with roles a bit, and might as well do it early in the season.

For the Boston Blades, Jessica Convery is in net with Lauren Dahm on the bench. On defense are Lauren Williams and Taryn Harris, no change from yesterday. The forwards are Chelsey Goldberg, Kristina Brown, and Jennifer MacAskill, a completely different lineup from yesterday.

First Period

The first half of the first period goes by without much happening. There are few shots, no penalties, and Blades’ defenders are actually giving their goalie room. Convery makes some really good saves, including glove saves on two blueline slapshots from Bozek and a wrist shot from Nicole Kosta from the hashmarks.

The main drama in that period comes at 18:02 when a referee is knocked onto the boards by two Thunder players. It is on the near side so the boards are obstructing the view — everyone thinks that a player is down until the ref gets up and is escorted off the ice. I asked several people at the rink and it happened so fast that no one was sure which player or players did it. The rest of the period goes on with just 1 referee and 2 lineswomen. No penalties are called on the incident.

Right at the ten minute mark, Meaghan Spurling goes into the box for roughing. The Thunder are on the power play. Thunder players are at the net passing the puck around but Convery always has her eyes on it. After a minute of passing, Laura Stacey receives a puck from Kosta, sees an opening and takes a shot. Convery sees it and saves jt with her left pad. However there is no defender there to clear the puck and Jess Jones is there waiting to close the deal. She tips the puck in and the Thunder pick up their first goal of the game.

Soon after the first goal, Kosta gets a penalty for hooking but the Thunder manage to kill off that penalty.

The final penalty of the period is picked up by Harris for the Blades. She will start off the next period in the box.

Shots on net were 26 for Markham and 3 for Worcester.

Second period

All four refs are back on the ice. I guess the ref that went down just had the wind knocked out of her as she was seen skating around on the ice during intermission.

Woloschuk is sent to the box for tripping five minutes in for tripping. As usual the Thunder kill off that penalty.

The entire first half of the second period belongs to Nicole Brown. Almost every shot on the net was made by her. Unfortunately Convery saves everything.

Ella Matteucci is finally on the board. Her wrist shot from the outer hashmarks, coupled with the fact that the Blades defenders were screening Convery, sees the Thunder pick up their second goal of the game. Stacey and Jenna McParland are credited with the assists.

Spurling is sent to the box again 11 minutes in, this time for hooking. It does not take Rattray long to capitalize on it as she finally scores a goal on the power play. The assists are credited to Bach and Larocque. This is the second time that a Spurling penalty has caused a power play goal this game.

With just over five minutes left to go, the Worcester Blades score their first goal of the season and first goal of the now-renamed team. It was messy and hard to tell who even scored the goal. It is decided that Casey Stathopoulos slid one in past Knox, with the assists credited to Megan Myers and Brown.

Goalie change for the Blades with 7:23 left in the second (the time on the game summary is a little off). Dahm is in the net now. Convery played an awesome game — saving 33 out of 36 shots — so I do not get the reasoning behind the goalie change other than Paul Kennedy implementing a “3 goals and you are out” rule. Dahm holds off the Thunder for the rest of the period.

Shots on net were 16 for the Thunder and 6 for the Blades.

Third Period

Jones goes into the box off for bodychecking a little over four minutes in. But the Blades are all over the place now and the Thunder use this fact to make it over to their net. Rattray is in the box for high sticking a flying puck three minutes later. The Thunder once again kill off the penalty.

With just under three minutes left of the game, Ailish Forfar is called for tripping. At this point the Blades know that they are not winning and seem to ignore every strategy and play with wild abandon, to their own detriment. The puck finds its way to the Blades’ net as Stacey passes the puck to Bach and she delivers a shorthanded goal for her second point of the game.

Total shots were 50 for Markham and 15 for Worcester.

Three stars

3 Jessica Convery (33 saves)

2 Laura Stacey (3A)

1 Ella Matteucci (Game winning goal)

Notes

  • This game was, to borrow Knox’s word, “scrambly” for both teams. People were falling on the ice. Not receiving passes. Not passing properly. Not intercepting passes that were coming to them. At certain points in time it was just played mid-ice with the puck passing back and forth between the teams. It was just messy. Perhaps it’s because the game last night ended just 14 hours before, or because they had about 500 less people in the audience to play for.
  • As usual, the Blades defense should really trust their goaltenders and stop bellyflopping on the ice to save or divert a puck when the goalie has a clear view of the shot.
  • Convery put up a good performance. She saved every initial shot and had good control of the puck. She successfully saved all wraparounds and knew how to read dangles. All three of the goals scored on her were rebound shots that defenders should have cleared or blocked if they were trying to get up from taking a nosedive. She was more agile and more skilled at using her body to block shots because of her smaller stature. Based on her performance today, she is the more reliable backup/successor to Dahm.
  • The Blades lack a closer. If they had faced a pair of weaker goalies their wild shots at the net might find the net a bit better. But they have been fighting experienced goalies in both Howe and Knox.

Toronto Furies 0 - Shenzhen Rays 3 (Game Summary)

Only when a team is facing Noora Räty is it possible for a team to get shut out and still look improved doing it.

The Furies changed things up a little in their second game against the Shenzhen Rays. Shannon Stewart was scratched in favour of Jessica Platt and Julia Fedeski made her debut while Shannon Moulson sat. (Do the Furies coaching staff have a bias against Shannons? My column...). The starting forwards were Brittany Howard, Mackenzie MacNeil and Sarah Nurse, with Emma Greco and Sena Suzuki on defence. Shea Tiley got her first CWHL start.

The Rays went with the same starting lineup as yesterday — why change a winning combination? (Incidentally, the graphic the CWHL had for today’s game that was Nurse vs Kimberly Newell was a little funny. No disrespect to Newell, who is a good goalie, but Räty’s not giving up her crease anytime soon.)

First period

This game was faster but a little less physical than yesterday. An early chance for Shenzhen had the crowd gasping — it looked like an in-and-out goal just under the bar on Tiley’s right — but play continued so it must have hit the bar or corner of the post.

Renata Fast was called for tripping a little over five minutes in. The penalty killers looked good - the Rays kept cycling the puck but had trouble finding any openings, and the Furies even managed to get the puck out of the zone a bit. When the penalty expired Fast headed straight for the puck carrier but didn’t manage to do much.

The number of times I have “Räty save on Spooner” in my notes is a little silly. Two of them came between the first and second penalties. A line of Jess Vella, Brittany Zuback, and Carolyne Prévost also acquitted themselves well in the offensive zone.

Julia Fedeski earned her first professional penalty for cross-checking just over halfway through the period. The Furies penalty killers got the puck out immediately, but then most of them were caught too far up when the Rays got it back. Fortunately, the shot went high. They spent a lot of time turning around to chase Shenzhen players in both games this weekend. Nurse carried the puck out again but ended up in the Rays zone alone without much backup.

The Furies clearly had the right idea about how to beat Räty — they kept making passes right in front of the goal, trying to get her moving side to side. Unfortunately they had trouble getting those passes to connect, either due to bad timing or interfering Rays defence. Fast and Howard also combined for a great chance but Howard shot high and missed the net.

With 34 seconds left it looked like Toronto was going to get out of the period unscathed. Then Spooner passed ahead to Vella, who did not look at all ready for the puck, missed it and then slashed a Shenzhen player in her attempt to get it back. Six seconds of Rays power play time later, the puck was behind Tiley. Emma Woods from Jessica Wong and Alex Carpenter.

There was still enough time left for Rachel Llanes to get sent to the box for tripping Nurse, and the Furies ended the period on the power play.

Shots in the period were 10 - 4 in favour of the Rays. This was partly due to all the penalty killing the Furies did, and partly because a lot of players on both teams were making attempts that missed the net. Apparently the book on both goalies involved shooting high?

Second period

The Furies tried something interesting to start the second period. Howard took the faceoff with Spooner on her right wing and Mellissa Channell on her left. Meanwhile, Nurse lurked back in the left D position with Fast on the right. The puck was fed back to Nurse who then used Channell as a bit of a shield to get around the Rays and into the zone.

Shiann Darkangelo had a nice attempt as the penalty was dying. Llanes came out of the box and had an attempt of her own almost immediately.

One of the downsides of playing against Noora Räty is that if you are ahead of the opposition and the puck is ahead of you but not yet in your control, Noora has no problem coming out to send that puck away, as Prévost learned on an almost-breakway.

I maintain the second goal happened because Alex Carpenter is a cheat code. Sure, the Rays had numbers coming in and the Furies weren’t quite in position to defend but that puck was in the back of the net before anything actually looked serious.

Look at that shot. That shot is ridiculous. How is that the shot of a woman cut from the 2018 US Olympic team? (USA Hockey is also ridiculous, just not nearly in the same fun way.) Anyway Maddie Woo and Emma Woods got assists but I’m not really sure they had much to do with it.

The rest of the second period was a parade of penalties: Hannah Miller for slashing, Jordan Hampton for hooking, Channell for boarding, Stephanie Anderson for hooking, Channell again, this time for delay of game when a puck sailed into the stands, and Miller again for slashing. Like I said, physical game. The Furies continued to kill off penalties well, including a few shorthanded chances. They made attempts at cracking Räty (Howard, Fast, Darkangelo) but nothing doing. The best was a late shot by Nurse that had Räty standing up in her net to let the puck bounce off her shoulder.

The Furies managed to outshoot the Rays 10-5 in the period.

Third period

Toronto started the period with Prévost, Vella and Julie Allen up front and Greco and Fast paired on the blueline.

Nothing of particular note happened for most of the period. The Furies got chances (12 shots, according to the game sheet) and so did the Rays (also 12). Shea Tiley did some Shea Tiley things in the meantime:

She was pulled with 50 seconds left, and the only thing that went in was an empty net goal by Carpenter with four seconds left in the game. Assists to Woods and Cayley Mercer.

Total shots were 27 to 26 in favour of the Rays, and Räty got her first shutout of the season.

Three stars

3 Alex Carpenter (2G, 1A)

2 Shea Tiley (24 saves)

1 Noora Räty (26 save shutout)

Notes

  • While Toronto still spent a lot of time in their own zone they managed to exit more consistently. They were defending a lot, especially with three penalty kills in the first period alone, but they looked to be defending well.
  • I’m really looking forward to seeing Spooner and Nurse up against goalies who are Not Noora Räty. That said, Mellissa Channell and Brittany Howard looked good, as did Shiann Darkangelo.
  • There was some offside trouble this game, both from players being blatantly (more than a step) offside, and players needing to take a lap to wait for their teammates to get out of the offensive zone.

The Toronto Furies finish their series against the Shenzhen Rays in a rare weekend game, 8:45 pm this Wednesday, before going on a two game roadtrip to Worcester this weekend. The Saturday game will be streamed at 3 pm. The Markham Thunder head to Montréal this weekend to face the Canadiennes.