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CWHL Recap: Thunder snap Furies win streak 6-2

Markham sneaks into a tie for the final playoff spot.

Markham Thunder celebrate Jess Bazal / CWHL

This was definitely not the game the Furies were hoping to have on national television today. They came into this afternoon’s game on a three game winning streak. With the momentum and a pretty easy schedule to the end of the season, there was some buzz that perhaps the Furies could sneak into the playoff picture. With no games in hand on anyone in the league, they’d have to run the table and have Vanke and Markham both lose most of their games going forward, but mathematically it was possible.

Mathematically it’s still possible, but they’re now only one loss or one overtime win away from being eliminated.

Amanda Makela and Erica Howe were the starting goalies. As per usual recently, the starting forwards for Toronto were the line of Danielle Gagné, Sydney Kidd and Cassidy Delainey, with Brooke Beazer and Ella Stewart bringing up the rear. Markham countered with Megan Bozek and Lindsay Grigg on defence and Nicole Brown, Jenna McParland and Taylor Woods up front.

The first period looked similar to what we’ve seen from the Furies over the last five or six games - a lot of back and forth play, not a lot of sustained pressure from either team, and a reasonably fast clip.

Megan Bozek seemed to be the Thunder with the puck on her stick the most. She favoured wraparound attempts, trying to tuck the puck in between Makela’s pads and the post. The Furies goalie stymied all attempts and was on her game early.

The Furies opened the scoring just ahead of the halfway point. Brittany Zuback got a breakout pass from Danielle Gagné and took it up the ice. She broke into the Thunder zone and around defender Megan Delay before sending a backhand top shelf over Howe and into the net. 1-0 Furies.

In total, the shots were 10 to six for Toronto on the period. Zuback had more than one attempt in the period, as did Dingeldein. For the Thunder, Bozek’s efforts were joined by those of Rattray, Richards and McParland.

In a rarity for a game between these two teams, no penalties were called in the first period. That changed in the second.

Karolina Urban was the first player to be sent to the box, called for interference less than two minutes into the period. While the Furies power play has been pretty effective for them over the last few games, this was definitely not one of their best. Not only did they have some trouble keeping the puck in the offensive zone, Kristen Richards got a pretty good shorthanded opportunity. She was foiled before it became an actual shot on net, but the Furies never really regained control.

Just 20 seconds after the penalty expired, Alexis Woloschuk sent a point shot through traffic, off the post and in for her first CWHL goal, tying the game 1-1. There was enough traffic in front of Makela that Brown was originally credited with a tip on the goal.

With the game tied, the Thunder really began to press and things unravelled for the Furies.

The Furies second power play of the game (Bozek, high sticking) ended in short order as Michelle Saunders tripped up Jamie Lee Rattray to stop a short handed breakaway.

Bozek had yet another wraparound attempt that she thought had gone in, but the replay on the Sportsnet broadcast agreed with the no goal call on the ice - Makela got her pad out just in time.

Even strength didn’t last very long before Alexa Aramburu and Taylor Woods were sent to their respective penalty boxes for tripping and a bodycheck. The call on Aramburu might have included “bowling for officials” as she sent a ref to the ice before play was called. More 4 on 4 time.

A shot for Emily Fulton ended with a worrying accident for Brittany Zuback, who crashed headfirst into the goalpost. It took Zuback a moment or two to get up but she did continue on in the game. (The players have been talking about player safety on Twitter recently and just a reminder that player safety doesn’t just mean on illegal plays, it means getting a player off the ice and looked at immediately after something like this, which didn’t happen.)

As the 4 on 4 wound down it was Jenna McParland who scored for the Thunder, getting her own rebound in off of Makela’s pads and giving the Thunder their first lead, 2-1.

Two minutes later Kristen Richards grabbed a rebound off of a Bozek point shot and put it in from the side of the net. 3-1.

The continued Markham pressure resulted in some seriously extended shifts for the Furies, which didn’t help matters. Makela also had some trouble with the net coming off multiple times in the second half of the period.

Arumburu had the final penalty of the period (tripping), which the Furies survived, but they were outshot 18-4 in the period and things just did not look great.

The third period started with a goal from Jamie Lee Rattray just 88 seconds in. She got Makela to come out of the net a bit and commit early before sending it behind her in the space that opened up.

This led to a discussion on the broadcast about why Rattray wasn’t centralized this season. I certainly hope that the commentators were right and she was one of the last to be removed from consideration, because there’s no doubt she’s still as good as she ever was.

The Thunder continued to be relentless, seldom letting the Furies out of their own zone. The Furies added to their own troubles by having trouble connecting with each other — there were quite a few missed passes in this game.

Rookie Ellie Seedhouse got her first career goal halfway through the period to make it 5-1, followed by Megan Bozek’s first goal as a member of the Markham Thunder to put them up to 6-1.

Bozek’s goal came on a 5 on 3 situation with Ella Stewart off for holding and Carolyne Prévosts shorthanded chance ending with her bowling Erica Howe right over. I know she’s our top point scorer and all but Prévost does have a problem where her speed gets her to the goal line before she’s really figured out what to do with the puck when she gets there. Usually it results in a missed opportunity instead of a penalty for goalie interference but same problem, different result.

Still, credit to the Furies for not giving up. Emily Fulton got her 11th goal of the season with just over three minutes left in the game. She took a pass from Carlee Campbell in over the blueline, around Dania Simmonds and up over Erica Howe to make it 6-2.

There was one more almost-goal for Markham that was called off and that was the game. Final shots were 33 - 18 for the Thunder.

Three stars

3. Brittany Zuback, Toronto Furies (1G)

2. Megan Bozek, Markham Thunder (1G, 2A)

3. Nicole Brown, Markham Thunder

With the win, the Thunder are now tied with the Rays for the final playoff spot, so it’s still possible that a GTA team could play for the Clarkson Cup this season.

The Saturday broadcast last week mentioned that Sonja van der Bliek has been dealing with a nagging injury and she wasn’t on the bench today for the second game in a row. We’ll see who the Furies have in net in the rematch in Markham tomorrow at 12:30 pm.