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CWHL Recap: Furies dampen the Inferno, Thunder beat Blades

Sarah Nurse and Victoria Bach score the game winning goals.

Sarah Nurse (#16) of the Toronto Furies fights off Halli Krzyzaniak (#21) of the Calgary Inferno. Chris Tanouye/Canadian Women’s Hockey League

Toronto Furies 4 - Calgary Inferno 1

Coach Kessel started with a lineup that’s becoming fairly familiar: Natalie Spooner,Sarah Nurse and someone (this week, it’s Shannon Stewart as the third, she played quite well with them last week as well) at forward with Renata Fast and Emma Greco on defence. Shea Tiley in net.

The Inferno countered with Blayre Turnbull, Brianne Jenner and Rebecca Leslie up front and Brigette Lacquette and Halli Krzyzaniak on the blueline. Annie Bélanger got the start. Team USA winter camp starts on Monday, which may explain why Alex Rigsby was not in net.

Between the growing injury list, Prévost still doing crossfit things and the fact that this is an away series, the Furies were down to ten forwards and six defenders. Last week, Sydney Kidd was called up from the reserve list, this week it’s Jenna Dingeldein.

First period

Early power play for Calgary when Greco goes off for a trip 31 seconds into the game. Leslie follows that up with a boarding call 42 seconds later, so we get some 4 on 4 action before a short Toronto advantage.

Rebecca Johnston takes down Sarah Nurse three minutes later and sits for bodychecking. The Furies power play goes to work and Shiann Darkangelo picks up the first goal of the game. Mackenzie MacNeil and Brittany Howard get the assists.

The Inferno haven’t learned their lesson yet and Krzyzaniak sits for hooking. This time it’s Sarah Nurse who makes Calgary pay, set up by Dingeldein and Spooner.

2-0 Furies less than halfway into the first period - not exactly how a battle of fifth place versus first is supposed to go!

Calgary gets one back, Kacey Bellamy from Johnston and Katelyn Gosling.

Despite having four more minutes of power play time, the Furies end the period with only seven shots to the Inferno’s 12.

Second period

No scoring or penalties in the second. However, I am told that they said nice things about PPP on the broadcast, which is very kind of them. We found the idea of a Furies vs Media game intriguing but let it be known that of the three of us only mediajunkie has played hockey ever... on the other hand, at least she’s a goalie. [Ed. Note: Annie would like to make it clear she is very willing to provide orange slices and moral support for this experience, if necessary]

Shots in the period were 11-6 in favour of the Inferno.

Third period

Brianna Decker starts the period by going to the box for interference.

The Furies take two bench minors, as if being up by one goal against the Inferno in the third isn’t nerve-wracking enough. The first is for too many skaters at about 7:30 into the period. Shortly after that one’s been killed off, they get called for delay of game, although it wasn’t clear why exactly - Brittany Howard had just made a shot on goal. The broadcast speculated it was for failing to get set up for the resulting faceoff fast enough, although potentially the Howard shot missed the net entirely and went over the glass, but it didn’t look that way.

Either way, Jenna Dingeldein sits for both penalties and Toronto survives both of them. Nurse even forces Bélanger to make a great save on a shorthanded chance during the second kill set up by Spooner.

Spooner gets the insurance goal with four minutes remaining, scoring an incredibly Natalie Spooner goal.

Both teams take their timeouts as the clock ticks down and Calgary pulls their netminder with about two minutes left. This turns out to be A Mistake as Jess Vella risks icing and is rewarded with the 4-1 goal, her first of the season.

It looked like the Furies actually managed to outshoot the Inferno in the third, but we don’t have official records for it at the time of writing. The score, however, is lovely enough as Toronto hands the Inferno their third loss of the season.

Three stars

3 Kacey Bellamy, Calgary Inferno (1 goal)

2 Renata Fast, Toronto Furies (1 assist)

1 Natalie Spooner, Toronto Furies (1 goal, 1 assist)

Notes

The Furies have had some close losses against the top teams this season, it’s nice to see one go their way. On the broadcast, GM Small suggested it was because tonight’s game in Red Deer was on a larger rink than the Inferno are used to, while the Furies often practice on Olympic sized ice.

I only tuned in for the third period but apparently Suzuki left the game for an extended period of time, possibly either during the second or did not come out to start the third. She was back in for the last seconds of the third period, so hopefully she’s all right.

Since this was a Furies broadcast done in Red Deer instead of an “official” CWHL broadcast, there was no play by play. Instead, Sami Jo Small and Katrina Galas told stories during the game (I suppose you could say the commentary was entirely colour) and took questions from twitter. I asked a question about the reserve call-ups and Sami Jo’s answer was so comprehensive it’ll get its own article sometime this week.

Markham Thunder 4 - Worcester Blades 1

Starting for the Markham Thunder are Kristen Richards, Taylor Woods, Jamie Lee Rattray, Jocelyne Larocque, and Kristen Barbara. Erica Howe started in the net in her usual Saturday spot and Liz Knox was on the bench. Not dressed are Laura Stacey, Jess Jones and Nicole Kosta.

Starting for the Worcester Blades are Courtney Turner, Meghan Grieves, Nicole Anderson, Taryn Harris and Lauren Williams. The Blades had 3 goaltenders listed on the gamesheet although there was only Jessica Convery on the bench. Mariah Fujimagari started for the Blades, and stalwarts Lauren Dahm and Jetta Rackleff were not dressed for this game and watching from the bleachers. Dahm mentioned that she and Rackleff will be starting tomorrow.

First Period

About nine minutes in, the Blades defenders are all around Kelly Gribbons but she sees Laura Fortino on the other side of the net with an opening and passes it to her. Fortino promptly puts it over Fujimagari’s shoulder. To emphasize the accuracy of the shot, Fujimagari covers a lot of net, so there was not much space between her shoulder and the crossbar. The second assist is credited to Megan Bozek.

The entire period seemed pretty evenly played on both sides. Howe saved all 9 shots on goal and Fujimagari had 7 of which she saved 6. For once, the Blades have outshot their opponents. There were also no penalties this period, which seems to work out well for the Blades.

Second Period

Fujimagari is starting in the net again. This is not something that I would normally need to say for any hockey team except for the Blades—they are prone to unexpected goalie changes mid-game. Four minutes into the period, Williams goes into the box for hooking. This opens the floodgates in terms of Blades penalties, something that burned them this game.

Not even a minute later, Richards gets a penalty. Half a minute later, Victoria Bach scores a goal on the 4 versus 4. Assists are credited to Brooke Webster and Larocque. Since the goal was scored at even strength, it is not considered a power play goal, which means Williams does not get to exit the box.

Total shots on goal this period were 3 for the Blades and 21 for the Thunder. This is what getting even one penalty does to dull the Blades.

Third Period

Convery starts in net. Dahm said that it was because the coach wanted everyone to have a chance to play.

There is some foreshadowing on the Thunder side. This tweet was posted in the second period:

And a minute into the third period, Nicole Brown shoots the puck into the net. Convery saves the initial shot, but there is no defender there to retrieve the rebound and Jenna McParland pushes it into the the open net. Assists are credited to none other than Brown and Bach.

Half a minute later, Shannon Hickey goes into the box for tripping.

Rattray goes to the box soon after for crosschecking.

During a faceoff on the Thunder side of the ice, Demi Crossman starts slashing at Bozek before the puck is even dropped, and Bozek starts slashing back. Both of them get two minutes in the penalty box. The game sees its second 4 on 4 of the night.

Rattray grabs a pass in front of the Thunder net, makes a run the length of the ice and drives it straight into the top left corner of Convery’s net. The assist is credited to Fortino but it was pretty much Rattray for the entire length of the ice.

At the midway point of the period, the Thunder think they scored a goal but it is waved off because the goal was deflected off a player’s skate into the net.

In a deja vu moment, Rattray attempts to recreate the exact same shot on Convery, but this time the puck goes too high.

In a rare hole in the Thunder’s defense, Grieves makes the pass across the net, and Courtney Turner manages to put one high into Howe’s net. I think someone might have said “shutout” and jinxed it.

With 2:05 left in the period and the game, there is a fight in front of the Thunder net right after Howe saves a shot. The refs have a hard time breaking it up. Crossman goes into the box again for the Blades and Richards for the Thunder, taking themselves out for all but the last five seconds of the game.

Total shots on goal for this period are 14 for Markham and 11 for Worcester. Total shots on goal for the game are 42 for the Thunder and 23 for the Blades.

Three Stars

3 Mariah Fujimagari, Worcester Blades (26 saves)

2 Kelly Gribbons, Markham Thunder (1 assist)

1 Laura Fortino, Markham Thunder (1 goal, 1 assist)

Notes

The Thunder are really pushing #KnoxyForCaptain, announcing it several times during every period. I would be remiss if I did not mention it here.

Compared to their opening games against the Thunder this season, the Blades dived a lot less, got a lot fewer penalties, and had more shots on goal. It started off well for the Blades, but slowly just disintegrated as they started racking up the penalties. As I said before, they need to keep the penalties to a minimum to even have a fighting chance.

This is a homecoming for Fujimagari. She is a Markham girl, and she had many fans in the audience.

I really do not get the goalie tandem strategy, especially when a goalie is doing well. Fujimagari had stopped 26 out of 28 shots and had only given up 2 goals, but was pulled just so that Convery could play for 20 minutes.

The Thunder were somewhat sloppy today. I get that they can easily beat the Blades, but passing was sloppy, defense was somewhat weak, even Bozek did not slapshot as much and when she did it did not really hit the goal. They let the Blades get under their skin too much. Maybe they wanted to take it easy but this was not the play that got them the Clarkson Cup.

The Furies and the Thunder will both go for the sweep tomorrow at 12:30 pm EST. You can find the Thunder stream here and the Furies stream here.