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Furies stonewall Blades 2-0, Thunder stomped 7-1 by Canadiennes

Shiann Darkangelo gets her first two as a Fury, Amanda Makela with the shutout. Jamie Lee Rattray scores one in the loss.

Amanda Makela, wearing home blues, makes a save in a 2017-18 game against the Calgary Inferno. Chris Tanouye/CWHL

Toronto Furies 2 - Worcester Blades 0 (Game Summary)

In the second half of their two-game series, the Furies looked to make it a sweep against the Blades in their first games in their new rink in Worcester. Amanda Makela made her first start for the Furies this year, with Elaine Chuli serving as backup. Anissa Gamble, Natalie Spooner, and Sarah Nurse were the starting forward line, with Megan Quinn and Mellissa Channell on the back end. The Blades started Jessica Convery between the pipes, with Alexis Miller and Lauren Williams in front of her on defense, and a forward line of Meghan Grieves, Morgan Turner, and Demi Crossman.

Shannon Moulson was in the lineup for the first time in a couple games with Jordan Hampton out (broken wrist). Mackenzie MacNeil was also scratched, as was Brittany Zuback.

First Period

The game started off with a bang, Shiann Darkangelo netting her first goal as a Fury less than two minutes in. The puck was pushed to her by Brittany Howard, and Darkangelo sniped it from the faceoff circle, giving the Furies a near-immediate 1-0 lead. On top of being Darkangelo’s first with Toronto, it was Howard’s first CWHL point.

Spooner had a couple good chances this period, including a nice little passing play with Gamble that had Spooner thinking she’d scored for a moment (she lifted her hands in celebration, which meant I also thought she’d scored for a split second). I was pleased with how well Gamble kept up with the Olympians—she had a couple nice plays this game, including a very nice fake shot/drop pass move on the rush with Emily Fulton.

Halfway through the period, Renata Fast got into a battle with Grieves in the Furies zone and was whistled for hooking. Megan Myers got a shot off immediately that Makela saved, and Quinn had a good defensive play to knock the puck out of the slot and force the Blades to take a less dangerous shot, but for the most part the power play elapsed without incident.

Two minutes or so after the Blades power play ended, Darkangelo made it 2-0. She took a feed from Fast and charged in, shooting through traffic and picking up her own rebound (it either hit a defender or Convery, I couldn’t tell from my angle) to put it around the sprawling goalie. Julie Allen got the secondary assist.

Not long after that, Nurse nearly made it 3-0 with a shot that must’ve gone over the crossbar by a couple inches.

Makela made a nice save off Kristina Brown in traffic; it was one of the first really dangerous chances by the Blades. I was pleased with how well Makela handled a lot of those close-range, scrambly shots today—she looked very calm and composed even when she had multiple Blades right on her doorstep.

As the period was ending, Darkangelo worked a defender and nearly finished her hat trick with a backhand shot, but no luck.

The first period ended 2-0 Furies.

Second Period

Lauren Dahm took over from Convery to start the 2nd. From where I was standing, I’m not sure either goal was Convery’s “fault” per se, so the choice to pull her seemed odd—I hope she wasn’t injured in some way that led to her exit.

Early in the period, Julia Fedeski took down Myers and was called for interference. The Furies’ penalty kill continued to press the Blades hard, and they were able to kill it off without much incident.

This game was a track meet, and it was most obvious in the second period, which was a constant stream of turnover-rush-shot-save. Neither team had a lot of controlled zone time at even strength, and the neutral zone was kind of a mess, with a ton of turnovers on both sides. I’ll give the Blades credit—they did a lot of work making the neutral zone sticky for the Furies to get through. Whenever anyone did engineer a zone entry and get to Dahm, she handled it.

At just over fourteen minutes in, Brown took a body-checking penalty on Fulton, putting her into the boards next to Dahm (it ended up a 10-minute misconduct for Brown, along with 2 minutes for the body-checking minor, served by Shannon Hickey). The Furies were able to keep the delayed penalty alive for a full minute, featuring a few stellar chances for Howard—one shot nearly slipped between Dahm’s pad and the near post, and another hit a post a moment later. From my vantage point, I could hear the Furies bench groan both times (they too want Howard to get a goal!). Unfortunately, that was not to be, either on the delayed call or the ensuing power play. Darkangelo also had a great chance to complete the hat trick with a quick pass from Howard behind the net, but Dahm stopped that too.

Third Period

Julie Allen took a slashing minor at the end of the second period, so the Furies started off the third on the penalty kill. The Furies had almost killed it off when Megan Myers was whistled for bodychecking Spooner, and then the Furies got some power play time of their own. Dahm had an incredible save on Emma Greco trying to pot a rebound, and there was some nice passing by the Furies power play in general, but the score stayed 2-0.

As the period went on, as they did late in yesterday’s game, the Blades started to pressure more and more. Makela looked really good this game, but she had several especially nice saves in the third—a great pad save on Nicole Giannino in close; a sharp glove save of a Myers shot after a quick little no-look pass from Morgan Turner; and then another save on Turner through a lot of traffic, some of it her own defenders. She was tested a lot harder in the third and held the line.

Towards the end of the period, I noticed a lot more of Carolyne Prévost, Jess Vella, and Julie Allen out for the Furies, possibly as a more shutdown strategy. Prévost’s speed was a tremendous asset considering the aforementioned neutral zone issues—she could just cut through all of it with ease. Darkangelo did come on for an offensive-zone faceoff with 18.3 seconds remaining, but sadly for those of us hoping for a hatty, she had to settle for two goals. The final score was 2-0, Furies.

Notes:

  • As mentioned, Jordan Hampton broke her wrist in the ending seconds of yesterday’s game and will unfortunately be out of commission for a while. She was a pleasant surprise coming out of training camp, and hopefully her recovery is as quick and easy as possible.
  • In Hampton’s absence, Sena Suzuki seems to be paired with Fedeski, a pairing I liked more as the game went on. Suzuki generally looked better today than yesterday—she had a few good plays, including a nice piece of stickwork on Casey Stathopoulos, who has scored both of the Blades’ goals so far.
  • I’m not sure what Brittany Howard wanted more: to get herself a goal, or to get Shiann Darkangelo a hat trick. She was trying very hard to achieve both, and I loved the look of her and Darkangelo together.
  • Carolyne Prévost is really, really fast. I know we all know this, but I still feel like it bears repeating.
  • I’m still not quite sure what’s going on with the reported shot count in the boxscore—while I only caught the announced shots for the second period, in the rink, it was reported as 10 shots for the Furies, 7 for the Blades, and the boxscore has the exact opposite listed.

Three stars:

3rd: Lauren Dahm (two shutout periods in relief)

2nd: Amanda Makela (shutout)

1st: Shiann Darkangelo (2 goals)

Markham Thunder 1 - Canadiennes de Montréal 6 ( Game Summary)

For their second game in Montréal, coach Jim Jackson decided to mix up his lines a little. Nicole Kosta and Jess Jones remained on the starting line, joined by Jamie Lee Rattray on left wing. Jocelyne Larocque and Megan Bozek got the call on defence and Erica Howe got the start again, with Elijah Milne-Price backing up. Liz Knox and Alexis Woloschuk were scratched again.

The Canadiennes stuck with yesterday’s winning combination of Mélodie Daoust, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Ann-Sophie Bettez up front, Erin Ambrose and Taylor Willard on the blueline and Emerance Maschmeyer in net.

Puck drop was delayed slightly by technical issues with the zamboni. Eventually, Jones started things off with a tripping penalty about 30 seconds into the game. Her teammates managed to kill it off.

Howe made a stop on Kim Deschênes and Maschmeyer shut down a shot from Bozek before Jill Saulnier opened the scoring not long past the halfway mark with a shot that bounced off Howe’s pad and into the net. It seems a little odd to write “Saulnier, assisted by Hilary Knight” but that is the CWHL we live in now and it’s sort of terrifying.

Knight and Laura Stacey went off a few minutes later, Stacey for goalie interference and Knight for cross-checking (guess she didn’t like Stacey touching her goalie). Nothing came of the 4 on 4 action and teams went to the rooms with the score 1-0 and shots 15 to 3 in favour of the Canadiennes.

Bettez continued the Montréal onslaught a minute and a half into the second, scoring with help from both her linemates, Poulin and Daoust.

Gina Repaci was called for tripping and the Canadiennes made short work of the power play, Daoust taking just 15 seconds to score, assisted by Poulin and Ambrose.

Rattray went off for slashing but Howe and the Thunder managed to hold the fort. A couple of minutes after the penalty expired Rattray put Markham on the board, making it 3-1 with an assist from Jones.

Kim Deschênes was called for a crosscheck so Montréal’s next goal was shorthanded, Bettez from Saulnier. Kristen Richards was off for slashing and the Canadiennes power play went to work again, this time Daoust from Ambrose and Poulin. Markham were down 5-1 at the end of the period.

Erica Howe is a good goalie but she’s now been lit up for ten goals over five periods and I thought maybe it would be time to give her a rest and put the rookie in. Coach Jackson disagreed with me.

Jones and Sarah Lefort went off for “roughing” just half a minute into the third (Montréal and Markham are not fond of each other, news at 11).

Howe kept making saves until halfway through the third when Deschênes got hold of a rebound and sent it past her to make it 6-1, assists to Katia Clément-Heydra and Karell Émard.

Roughing again, this time Melanie Desrochers on Victoria Bach. Desrochers goes to the box. Maschmeyer continues to deny all comers.

Larocque sits for interference and the Montréal power play does it again, this time Lefort from Saulnier just as the penalty expired. That would do it and the Thunder lose 7-1.

Montréal is terrifying on paper and they make good on that on the ice and really, giving them a power play is a Bad Idea.

Three stars

3rd: Marie-Philip Poulin (3 assists)

2nd: Ann-Sophie Bettez (2 goals)

1st: Jill Saulnier (1 goal, 2 assists)

The Markham Thunder start a two game series against the Shenzhen Rays this Thursday with a “home” game in Ancaster, followed by a game at home on Saturday. The Toronto Furies will host the Canadiennes de Montréal next weekend. Tickets are available online.