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CWHL Recap: Furies cut down Blades while Inferno smoke Thunder

Toronto is on a three-game win streak; Markham swept by Calgary

Chris Tanouye - CWHL

Toronto Furies 4 - Worcester Blades 2

The Furies started off with a top line of Shannon Stewart, Sarah Nurse, and Natalie Spooner. The starting defensive pair was Julia Fedeski and Sena Suzuki—Suzuki also took the ceremonial faceoff, as today’s game was a special event celebrating both Japan and two-time Japanese Olympian Suzuki. Elaine Chuli was in net.

The Blades countered with the tongue-bending forward line of Meghan Turner, Morgan Turner, and Demi Crossman, with Erin Kickham and Alexis Miller on defense. Stalwart Lauren Dahm got the start in goal for the Blades this afternoon.

First Period

The Furies come out with a lot of energy, countered by some physicality from the Blades. As was the case in their previous series, the Furies are a much faster team, and the Blades don’t appear to have learned how to counter that yet. As was also the case, though, Lauren Dahm is very solid in net. She makes several good saves early in the period.

With just under nine minutes to go, a Blade goes down in the corner, and Megan Quinn goes to the box for cross-checking. Boston has their first power play of the game. Nurse has a shorthanded chance miss wide off a pass by Spooner, Chuli makes a few saves, and the Furies are able to kill off the penalty without much fuss.

The Blades are opportunistic, but the Furies are clearly the better team.

With five and a half minutes left, Julie Allen pokes the puck past Dahm’s pad and gestures at the sky in relief. It’s 1-0 Furies, assists to Jess Vella and Quinn.

Fresh off getting that assist, Vella goes in the box for hooking at about the five-minute mark, giving the Blades another power play. Spooner has a shorthanded give and go with Fedeski, but they can’t convert. Shortly after, Fedeski skies the puck over the glass and takes a delay of game penalty, giving the Blades over a minute of 5 on 3 time. The Blades make the most of the opportunity. Yesterday’s goal-scorer Morgan Turner gets her second of the weekend, assisted by Crossman and Carrie Atkinson, evening it up at 1-1.

The Furies keep on the pressure through the end of the period—Dahm gets a piece of a hard shot by Spooner, and Fedeski gets the puck straight out of the box but Dahm is there to make the save. An attempt was made to spring Mackenzie MacNeil for a breakaway but she was a step offside. Before time elapses, Stewart puts a long shot on net, but time elapses with a 1-1 tie.

The period ends with the shots 14 to 6 in favor of Toronto.

Second Period

Dahm has to make a save all of six seconds into the period, luckily for Worcester she has it.

The Blades and Furies are stealing the puck back and forth from each other, sometimes quickly enough that it’s kind of funny. Unfortunately it’s also mixed in with some physical interference that’s not getting called.

I notice that Fedeski and Suzuki are getting a lot of ice time this game... and then realize that they’re also currently a bit stuck in their own zone. It’s a long time before they finally get off the ice, during which it looks like Suzuki blocked a shot with her stomach, standing in front of her goalie. Fedeski, in one of the more borderline uncalled interference plays, completely stands up a Blade.

The Furies get a lot of chances but they’re also missing the net a fair bit, sometimes shooting wide on purpose, sometimes not so much.

At a little less than eight minutes into the period, Suzuki hooks down a Blade for a delayed penalty. Kristina Brown blasts a shot that goes wide, but before the Blades can apply any more pressure, a sloppy line change costs them their penalty and sets up offsetting minors and four-on-four hockey. Megan Myers served the Blades’ bench minor.

Four-on-four is extremely kind to the Furies, who benefit from all that extra space. Spooner curls around the net and passes it up to Emma Greco for a point bomb, but no dice. After a giveaway by Miller in front of the net, Shiann Darkangelo shoots it wide, and Miller makes up for the mistake by breaking up a pass from Brittany Howard to Darkangelo a few moments later. Mellissa Channell pulls off a gorgeous stutter step move around one of the Turners, but Dahm unfortunately makes the save—that would have been some highlight reel nonsense if it had gone in.

Right as the 4 on 4 expires, Nurse comes roaring through the neutral zone and gets flattened to the boards by Meaghan Spurling, who’s called for body-checking. Fortunately for Spurling, Nurse seems to be okay and stays in the game, and Toronto gets a power play.

The Furies power play gets a lot of pressure—they get in, get set up, and other than the puck skipping past Renata Fast at the point once, stay there pretty much the whole time. Nurse is just dancing through the zone with the puck, circling and looking for a lane, but the best chance they have is a near miss by Spooner off a pass from Nurse. The Furies are able to keep pressure on for a while after the penalty expires, but nothing ends up coming of it.

Dahm’s had a great game so far, and she continues to be on point, making a great save on Vella after Vella picks off an errant pass from Spurling and fires it on net.

It’s Natalie Spooner (who else?) who finally gets it past Dahm, shoveling it in off a great pass by Stewart on a 2 on 1. It’s 2-1 Furies.

Right after the faceoff, Nurse almost gives the Furies a two-goal lead, bringing it up the wing, cutting to the slot and firing it off Dahm’s pads. Dahm makes the save, but Nurse still draws a hooking call, giving the Furies their second power play of the game.

Yet again, Dahm is the Blades’ best penalty killer. She saves a Fast point shot through traffic and a couple good chances by Spooner, and after a Channell point bomb, makes saves on consecutive rebound shots from Howard and Nurse at either side of her cage.

After Crossman hits Channell in the corner, she goes right to the front of the net, and tips a shot from the half boards past a confused-looking Chuli. [Note: the gamesheet says this goal belongs to Taryn Harris, but the broadcast and both teams’ Twitter account say Crossman tipped it] Chuli’s probably going to want that one back, and we’re tied at 2-2.

It takes the Furies less than thirty seconds to retake the lead. Stewart sends a quick pass from behind the cage through the crease to Spooner, who shovels it in on the backhand. With 17 seconds left in the period, it’s 3-2.

Shots this period were 20 for Toronto, 4 for Worcester.

Third Period

Stewart gets a shot on net almost immediately after the faceoff but Dahm fights it off. Stewart’s had a really good game—getting to set up Natalie Spooner the whole time must be fun for anyone.

Speaking of Spooner, she had a bunch of good chances this period that were spoiled by Dahm. She really wanted her hat trick. It is literally only Lauren Dahm being excellent that stops her from achieving this goal. She also makes several saves after a Channell point shot, and stops Nurse from jamming the puck through her pads at one point.

No penalties are called this period, although that’s not to say everyone was behaving themselves. Howard is dragged down in the neutral zone at one point to no call, and later in the period, she’s flattened at the Blades’ blue line, which is apparently also not a penalty. The officiating staff also whistled the Furies for icing after Dahm had played the puck, which was...odd!

Nine minutes into the period, Megan Quinn fires a point shot straight past Dahm and into the back of the net. She really leaned into that thing! It’s Quinn’s first CWHL goal, and gives the Furies a bit of a cushion with a 4-2 lead.

Suzuki makes several good passes that don’t end up turning into assists, notably a lovely outlet pass right to Nurse, who loops the Blades’ defender with extreme prejudice but can’t get her shot past Dahm.

While it’s Dahm doing the majority of the work this period, Chuli does make a good blocker save on Shannon Hickey, and then another solid save on Megan Turner.

As time elapses, Worcester chooses to leave Dahm in net instead of pulling her for an extra attacker, which seems like a weird choice with only a two-goal deficit. Even so, she gets a final highlight-reel save in on Spooner, who almost finishes her hat trick with less than ten seconds left on the clock. Dahm makes a full split save to keep Spooner’s attempt on a rebound of a Nurse shot from going in.

The final score is 4-2 Furies. Third period shots were 15 to 6 in favor of Toronto, leading to shot totals of 50 to 16 for the game.

Notes:

  • This game was a bit rough, and the refs seemed to be letting a lot of stuff I thought was explicitly interference or body-checking go. Different officiating crews obviously have different standards with that stuff, but I would have preferred to see fewer Furies get flattened with no call.
  • Mellissa Channell is an All-Star, both literally speaking, and also metaphorically in my heart. She only had one point this afternoon—primary assist on the Quinn goal—but she really stood out on the ice. That point shot of hers created a lot of chances.
  • It was great to see the Furies celebrate Suzuki, a Japanese national team stalwart who’s in her third season with the Furies, as well as acknowledge Japanese hockey in general. The Japanese Consul-General of Toronto, Takako Ito, dropped the puck, and the consulate was also on hand with bilingual flyers for Japanese fans in the crowd:

Three Stars:

3rd: Sena Suzuki, Toronto Furies (1a)

2nd: Lauren Dahm, Worcester Blades (46 saves)

1st: Natalie Spooner, Toronto Furies (2g)

Calgary Inferno 7 - Markham Thunder 2

The starting lineup for the Markham Thunder was Laura Stacey, Kristen Richards, Jenna McParland, Jocelyne Larocque, and Ella Matteucci. Liz Knox started in net with Erica Howe on the bench.

Starting for the Calgary Inferno was Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Leslie, Kelty Apperson, Halli Krzyzaniak, and Brigette Lacquette. Alex Rigsby was in net and Annie Bélanger on the bench. This is the exact same line up as yesterday night.

First Period

It does not take long for the Thunder to score. Laura Fortino passes the puck from the boards to McParland who is waiting unguarded on Rigsby’s open side and sinks it in.

Leslie scores the equalizer five minutes later. She fires a shot from the net, and even though Knox’s glove is extended to catch it, she misses and it rolls into the back of the net. No assists are credited for this goal, even though there was a clear pass from Jenner.

With a minute and a half left to go, Larocque gets a hold of the puck and passes it to Victoria Bach who almost makes a breakaway for the Inferno net. There are two defenders away and no Thunder around, and what does she do? She puts a backhanded puck into Rigsby’s open side. The Thunder are now up by one.

However, the Inferno are not happy to be down again on the scoreboard. There are a few passes around the Thunder net, but it is the new Captain Rebecca Johnston who sinks the equalizer. Assists were credited to her new co-captains Brianna Decker and Zoe Hickel.

Shots on goal at the end of the first period are 11 for the Thunder and 12 for the Inferno.

Second Period

Johnston attempts a shot at the net, but Knox saves it with her pads. She does not see Brianne Jenner coming at her on that side, and Jenner somehow puts it past her pads. No assists are credited in this goal either.

Knox is on the ground after that goal. The trainer is out to take a look at her, but she shakes it off and continues the game.

The first penalty of the night is awarded to Leslie four minutes into the second period for slashing. The Thunder are now on the power play, but the Inferno manage to successfully kill off that penalty like they usually do.

Leslie finds herself back in the box again not even three minutes later. Another Thunder powerplay. Another Inferno penalty kill.

Jenner passes the puck from the boards to Leslie who is waiting in front of the net, and Leslie puts it above Knox as she is dropping to her knees. This is Leslie’s second goal of the game. Jenner and Eden Murray are credited with the assists.

Not to be outdone by her linemate, Jenner scores with under three minutes left by sinking a shot into the top right corner with a Thunder player chopping away at her feet. The sole assist goes to Apperson.

Shots this period were 9 for the Thunder and 10 for the Inferno. Total shots thus far are 22 for the Inferno and 20 for the Thunder.

Third Period

The Thunder make a goalie change and Howe now starts in the net for the Thunder.

Two and a half minutes in, Ella Matteucci gets a penalty for hooking. The Thunder are now on their only penalty kill of the night. After a lot of Inferno passing around the ice and a good save by Howe, Bozek intercepts and ices the puck buying a few extra seconds and a line change.

Six minutes in Gosling puts one into the net. There is some confusion in the announcers box as Jenner and Kacey Bellamy are credited with the assists but it is Johnston and Zoe Hickel on the live stats. A correction is made later on.

With 7:32 left on the clock, Lacquette goes into the box for hooking. The Thunder are on the power play but as we know that does not mean much against the Inferno.

Almost halfway into the third, Decker scores her second for the game with assists credited to Gosling and Bellamy.

The Thunder step up their game the last few minutes and Rigsby see more shots coming at her than the first ten, but the Thunder are unable to close the gap.

The Inferno take two points this game and four for the weekend. Shots this period were 10 for the Thunder and 11 for the Inferno for a total of 30 for the Thunder and 33 for the Inferno.

Notes

  • The Thunder did better at shots on net this game, almost equal to Calgary. But they did not count on Rigsby and a strong defense.
  • Despite all the scoring might, both games this weekend were pretty clean, with few penalties and injuries. The Thunder know that they need to stay out of the box for their best chance to stave off the Inferno offense.
  • Halli Krzyzaniak’s slapshot rivals that of Megan Bozek, but she does not use it as often as Bozek does.
  • There were a lot of Inferno fans in the audience. Many Inferno players are from Ontario including Johnston, Jenner, Gosling, Apperson and Leslie.
  • I was really excited to see Rigsby in action, and she did not disappoint. She’s extremely good at tracking the puck when being screened. Not Noora Räty good, but almost as good.

Three Stars

3rd: Alex Rigsby, Calgary Inferno (31 Saves)

2nd: Rebecca Leslie, Calgary Inferno (2G, 4 PM)

1st: Rebecca Johnson, Calgary Inferno (1 G, 1A)