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CWHL Recap: Thunder sweep Blades, Inferno shut out Furies

One team wins, one team loses heading into the holiday break

Ailish Forfar (#11) of the Markham Thunder in the foreground with Lauren Williams of the Worcester Blades and the Blades goalie in the background. Teri Di-Lauro / CWHL

Markham Thunder 6 - Worcester Blades 1

Starting for the Markham Thunder are Kristen Richards, Jamie Lee Rattray and Taylor Woods—the exact same forward line as yesterday. Defenders are Megan Bozek and Laura Fortino. Liz Knox takes her usual Sunday morning spot in the net and Erica Howe is backup on the bench. Not dressed for the Thunder are Jess Jones, Laura Stacey, and Nicole Kosta.

Starting for the Worcester Blades are Demi Crossman, Casey Stathopoulos, and Megan Myers, with Lauren Williams, and Alexis Miller on defense. Lauren Dahm starts in net and Jetta Rackleff is on the bench.

First Period

It does not take the Thunder long to get on the scoreboard. A minute and a half into the first period Jenna McParland takes advantage of a heavily screened Dahm. Assists were credited to Nicole Brown and Victoria Bach.

Not even two minutes later, it is Brown’s turn to put one in, this time assisted by Bach and McParland. That line is really racking up on the scoreboard today! They shall henceforth be deemed the McParland-Brown-Bach line.

That being said, not even three minutes later, McParland gets her second goal of the night. Assisted by Bach. That’s three goals in under six minutes. This is not going to be a good day for the Blades. It’s McParland on hat-trick watch now.

The Blades call a time out, probably to rework their strategy.

With 11:40 left on the clock, Meghan Turner goes to the box for high sticking, like the Blades need anything more against them. Against all odds, the Blades manage to kill off that penalty.

With 8:42 left Ailish Forfar goes into the box for a tripping penalty. The Thunder kill off that penalty easily.

After three assists, Bach finally gets her first goal of the game with under five minutes left on the clock, this time assisted by Brown. I had to take a moment to check the point standings, and at this point in time, Victoria Bach has beat Sarah Nurse in scoring.

With 5:48 left on the clock, Gina Repaci gets two minutes for bodychecking. With no surprise, the Thunder kill off that penalty.

Shots on goal for this period were 18 for the Thunder and 9 for the Blades.

Second Period

Two minutes in Brooke Webster scores, assisted by Becca King. Is anyone glad that it was not the McParland-Brown-Bach line? Surprisingly, this is Webster’s first goal of the season, as well as her first goal for the Thunder.

At the first whistle past the midway mark, there is a Blades goalie change. Dahm is out and Rackleff is in.

With three minutes left in the period, Rackleff makes and amazing save with her stick that even has Thunder fans in the audience gasping and clapping.

Surprisingly there were no penalties from either side this period. The Thunder have slowed down on the scoring knowing that they have this one in the bag.

Shots on goal at the end of the second period were 19 for the Thunder and 9 for the Blades.

Third Period

At the 15:40 mark, the puck goes over the glass and whistle is blown. The refs stop to have a little huddle to figure out whether it was deflected. Looks like they decided that it wasn’t, because Carrie Atkinson goes to the box for a delay of game penalty.

With 11 minutes left on the clock, Webster is making a beeline for the net with a Blades defender’s stick in her way the whole time. In a strange move by Rackleff, she drops to her knees while not in line with the puck and Webster easily puts it in the goal. This goal was unassisted. Webster, after not scoring a goal this season until this game, is now on hat-trick watch.

Since Rackleff took the net, Rattray has already made at least three breakaway shots on the net and Rackleff has stopped it each time. The latest one comes when Rattray comes in on Rackleff’s left but makes a last minute manoeuvre coming in on the net. Rackleff sees it and matches Rattray’s speed and stops the deke with a lot of skill.

With eight minutes left on the clock, King goes into the box for bodychecking. The Blades are able to up their shots at the Thunder net but nothing goes in.

The Blades are finally on the board with 2:37 left in the game. Morgan Turner manages to move the puck along Knox’s pads. Assist goes to Megan Turner (no relation). Like yesterday, somebody somewhere must have uttered the dreaded “shutout” word before it was time again. Thunder announcer Don Simmons admitted after the game that it was him, although he denies any part in the late Blades goal yesterday.

The Blades will have to finish off the game on the penalty kill as Courtney Turner goes into the box for hooking. They end the game with no additional goals.

Shots on goal this period were 31 for the Thunder and 8 for the Blades. Total shots on net were 58 for the Thunder and 26 for the Blades.

Three Stars

3rd Star Victoria Bach (1G, 3A)

2nd Star Brooke Webster (2G)

1st Star Jenna McParland (2G, 1A)

Notes:

The Thunder were more in control than last night. It is as though someone issued a challenge to McParland-Brown-Bach line to score as many goals as possible. The Thunder goals were low shots as opposed to all the top shelf shots yesterday which is perhaps why Dahm was not prepared for them.

However, the Blades were definitely less in control than yesterday. It seems that the puck touched their skates and various body parts more than the sticks. In a rare turn of events, their third period was actually the best period with many close chances at the goal with Morgan Turner sealing the deal. This was considered penalty-light for the Blades today.

Rackleff has really impressed me and deserved at least one of the stars of the game. This is actually the first time I have seen her live in the net. She is after all the Team USA roller hockey goalie and no doubt some of those skills translate. She tracks the puck extremely well, controls her rebounds well, moves very quickly, and can cover her net from post to post with a full butterfly. She denied Rattray’s fast wraparounds on more than one occasion this game.

I know she scored a goal yesterday, but Rattray has yet to crack the top 20 in scoring. Her strength comes from her breakaways and she needs to be put on a line where her linemates can keep the defenders occupied and clear the way for her to do what she does best. I would also like to see more of Megan Bozek’s shots connect with the net as well. There, I worked in my Bozek-shipping.

This was Knox’s 40th Thunder win. For the lack of highlights from Women’s Sports Highlights, I shall once again plug #KnoxyForCaptain.

Toronto Furies 0 - Calgary Inferno 6

For the second game of their weekend series, the Furies kept Natalie Spooner, Sarah Nurse and Shannon Stewart up front but changed up the defence, starting Megan Quinn and Mellissa Channell. Elaine Chuli got the start in goal.

Calgary changed things up a little more. Rebecca Leslie was the only skater from yesterday’s starting lineup to start today. Rebecca Johnston and Brianna Decker joined her at forward while Katelyn Gosling and Kacey Bellamy took to the blueline. Annie Bélanger was in net again.

First period

Five minutes into the period Julia Fedeski sits for a delay of game penalty (the Furies seem to get a lot of these this season), and the Inferno take advantage. Kacey Bellamy, as she did in yesterday’s game, scores the first goal for Calgary with a wicked slapshot, assisted by Johnston and Gosling.

Renata Fast is the next Fury to head to the box, this time for body checking. Not a trend we want to see continue, but Toronto survives the kill.

The Furies get a power play of their own with eight minutes left in the period as Brigette Lacquette goes off for holding. Just after she came back the Furies thought Spooner had managed to set up a goal for Nurse, but it was waved off by the officials.

Decker scores the next official goal, beating Chuli glove side and banking it in off the post. Johnston and Bellamy get the assists.

Much like yesterday, the Inferno are outshooting the Furies, 14-7.

Second period

Renata Fast goes to the box less than half a minute into the period on a tripping call. The Furies kill off the penalty but seconds later, the Inferno score on a Gosling slapshot. It looked like it might have been tipped by Johnston in front but Gosling got credit.

Julie Allen hits the crossbar not long afterwards.

Mackenzie MacNeil takes advantage of some pinching Inferno defenders to go in on net but Bélanger comes up with a great save.

Brianna Decker goes off for tripping. It’s not the best Furies power play ever.

Brianne Jenner scores the fourth Calgary goal on a somewhat throwaway shot, assisted by Kaitlin Willoughby.

A bouncing puck that might have actually gone off the stick of Emma Greco gets Rebecca Johnston another goal. Assists go to Decker and Bellamy. Toronto doesn’t seem to have an answer for Calgary in this game.

That’s it for Chuli, and Shea Tiley comes into the game with a little over three minutes left in the second.

Shots in the period are 12 - 7 in favour of Calgary.

Third period

Blayre Turnbull is called for a bodycheck about a minute into the period.

Jenner gets her second goal of the game on an angled shot out from a distance that goes top shelf on Tiley. Lacquette gets the assist.

Rebecca Johnston sits for interference with a little over five minutes left and Toronto gets a few opportunities on the power play but Bélanger shuts them down.

Annie Bélanger gets her third shutout of the season and the Furies go into the break on a loss.

Three stars

3 Katelyn Gosling, Calgary Inferno (1 goal, 1 assist)

2 Rebecca Johnston, Calgary Inferno (1 goal, 2 assists)

1 Brianna Decker, Calgary Inferno (1 goal, 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes)

Notes

Interesting comments from Gina Kingsbury (head of women’s hockey for Hockey Canada, former Inferno player and coach) in the first intermission interview. The three-game Canada-US series in February has the support of the NHL, who might even provide a trophy, and Hockey Canada wants to make the series an annual event. She also indicated that the series would be combined with the pre-Worlds camp, so we can expect the Hockey Canada players to be out of the lineup from the weekend of the 10th through the 18th of February.

Toronto and Markham will be back at it on the weekend of January 5-6 and you can catch them on television! Les Canadiennes de Montréal will host the Furies, and their Saturday game will be televised on Sportsnet at 12:30 pm Eastern. The Thunder will host the Inferno and their Sunday afternoon game at Centennial Community Centre will be broadcast on Sportsnet at 1:30 pm Eastern. The Saturday night Thunder game and possibly the Sunday afternoon Furies game (since they seem to be bringing their camera on the road) will be streamed as usual.