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CWHL Recap: Markham Thunder lose 3-2 to Shenzhen Rays in Ancaster

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A 28 save performance by Liz Knox was not enough to get the win.

Becca King (2) of the Markham Thunder is defended by Jessica Wong (49) of KRS Red Star with goalie Noora Räty (41) in the background. Jessica Bazal / CWHL

The Markham Thunder began a two-game series against the Shenzhen Rays tonight with a rare weeknight game that took place in Ancaster, Ontario as part of Ancaster’s celebration of 20 years of girls hockey in the community.

Starting for the Thunder were Laura Stacey, Victoria Bach, and Jenna McParland with hometown hockey hero Laura Fortino and Daniella Matteucci on defense. It looks like Jim Jackson is still trying to find his perfect power lineup. Liz Knox is in net with Erica Howe on the bench. Scratches were Nicole Kosta, Elijah Milne-Price, Taylor Woods and Alexis Woloschuk.

The starters for the Shenzhen Rays were Cayley Mercer, Hannah Miller and Hanna Bunton up front with Jessica Wong and Yu Baiwei on defense. Noora Räty took the net, seeking redemption after two losses last weekend in Calgary, while Kimberly Newell sat as her backup.

Not surprisingly, Fortino did the ceremonial puck drop alongside the Rays’ Cayley Mercer.

First Period

The first penalty of the night goes to Michelle Ng (although the board put up Emma Woods’s 67), who trips McParland on the way to the net.

Two minutes in Stacey makes a great breakaway for the net but hits it so high that the whistle is blown.

Yu goes into the box for another tripping penalty. A minute later Rachel Llanes goes into box for bodychecking Megan Bozek onto the boards. The Rays are now two players down but successfully kill both penalties.

With seven minutes left to go, McParland is pushed hard onto the floor by Stephanie Anderson. She is furious and throws a punch at Anderson even after the whistle is blown. Both are sent off for two minute minors.

Bozek goes to the box for roughing, but that does not stop Laura Stacey. With less than five minutes left to go, she scores a beautiful short-handed goal. She pretends that she’s passing it to Becca King, causing Räty to momentarily lose focus, but puts the puck into Räty’s top left corner instead. Assists are credited to King and Brooke Webster, her first point with Markham.

It does not take long for the Rays to retaliate — just 37 seconds later, Cayley Mercer scores for the Rays. The assists are credited to Melanie Jue and Hannah Miller.

The last three minutes of the period are played primarily in the Thunder’s end, as an emboldened Rays team tries to get another into the Thunder net.

Second Period

Jessica Wong goes into the box 13 seconds in for bodychecking. The Rays kill off that penalty.

The Rays are going hard on this period and the Thunder seem somewhat lackluster. It is after all a work day and a long commute for some Thunder players. They are missing passes, losing the puck and letting pucks get intercepted a lot.

Liu Zhixin goes to the box for tripping. But the Rays take the lead anyway as Miller, assisted by Hanna Bunton, scores a short handed goal on Liz Knox.

McParland evens it out again with just over two minutes left with a subtle deke on Räty as her hapless Rays defenders look on. The assist is credited to Matteucci.

A few seconds later Jocelyne Larocque goes to the box for bodychecking, but the Thunder successfully kill off that penalty.

Third Period

Melanie Jue goes to the box about seven minutes in for the fourth bodychecking penalty of the game. The entire period is a lot of back and forth, with the time split evenly between the two halves of the ice.

Rachel Llanes shows some amazing puck dangling skills on more than one occasion - moving the puck with what can be described as minute movements around several Thunder players. The dangling finally pays off when one puck finally finds the net with just over five minutes left. The assist is credited to Emma Woods.

Woods goes into the box with 2:48 left to go. The Thunder call a timeout — no doubt to discuss their power play strategies. Shenzhen does the same with 1:38 left on the clock — no doubt to discuss their penalty kill strategies.

The Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays win this game 3-2.

Three stars

3rd: Hannah Miller (1 goal, 1 assist)

2nd: Laura Stacey (1 goal)

1st: Noora Räty (27 saves)

Notes

  • Caroline Ouellette was sitting in the stands. She was in town for a girls training session.
  • There were an estimated 700-800 in the stands, putting Markham’s crowds to shame. As per a Fortino insider, the event was heavily advertised in schools, in the Hamilton Spectator and the local CHCH.
  • At least a third of Noora Räty’s saves were glove saves, most of them despite being heavily screened. Her ability to track the puck is nothing short of magical.
  • Liz Knox is a master of the windmill. That is all.
  • Milestone games for Jocelyne Larocque, Jamie-Lee Rattray, Jess Jones, and Nicole Brown. Larocque, Rattray, and Jones reached their 100th CWHL regular season games, and Brown her 50th.

The Markham Thunder continue their series against Shenzhen at the Thornhill Community Centre this Saturday at 7:30 pm.