Today’s game was the most well-attended Furies game of the season, so much so that season ticket holders were contacted in advance and asked if they would like to reserve seats.
Two women’s hockey luminaries dropped the ceremonial puck to start the game. Fran Rider, former Brampton Canadette, co-founder of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association and holder of both the Order of Canada and Order of Hockey in Canada was joined on the ice by former Mississauga mayor (and former pro hockey player) Hazel McCallion, who celebrated her 98th birthday by watching Canada beat the USA at Scotiabank Arena this past Thursday. The two women were instrumental in the organization of the first Women’s World Championships, both those prior to recognition by the IIHF and the first IIHF Women’s World Championship in 1990.
Due to the Rivalry series, the Furies were missing four players, including their top three scorers, and the Thunder were missing six players, including their top four scorers and almost half their defence corps. Not ideal in a weekend series that could determine the Furies playoff future. Other scratches were Jenna McParland, the Thunder’s fifth best scorer, and the usual suspects of Emma Greco and Jordan Hampton for the Furies, both of whom are out for the rest of the season.
Sydney Kidd, Jenna Dingeldein and Emma Pearson remained in the lineup for Toronto while Markham called on veterans Ellie Seedhouse and Danielle Skirrow. While Seedhouse was on the Clarkson Cup-winning squad, Skirrow last played for the Thunder in the 2014-15 season.
Shea Tiley got the start for the Furies, with Mellissa Channell and Megan Quinn on defence and Shannon Stewart, Mackenzie MacNeil and Carolyne Prévost up front. The Thunder countered with Erica Howe in net, Kristen Barbara and Taylor Woods (usually a forward) at the blue line and Nicole Brown, Jess Jones and Nicole Kosta at forward.
The game started with chances at either end of the rink and a bit of physical play. The Furies had a few good chances, including one set up by Kidd and Prévost that showed off some nice moves but didn’t quite reach Howe.
As the period went on it was Markham who were able to get shots on net and spend more sustained time in the offensive zone. Toronto often got the puck through the neutral zone but couldn’t keep possession long enough to get a shot off in the offensive zone.
Carolyne Prévost seemed to have some trouble with her gloves, losing one twice in the first half of the period.
At the 9:30 mark, Becca King was called for a hook and the Furies power play went to work. There were a flurry of shot attempts that didn’t make it all the way to the net, before the puck sailed out of the zone with 28 seconds left in the advantage, and they never quite got it back in again.
Back at five on five, Tiley was called on to do some work, stopping play with what seemed like every skater on the ice bearing down on her crease.
Prévost set up Emily Fulton for a shot that went just high.
Mackenzie MacNeil got herself some space and time in front of the net but Howe saw the shot the whole way.
The Furies had a last-second rush up the ice but Shiann Darkangelo elected to pass instead of shoot and the buzzer went before her teammates could get set up.
The Thunder doubled up the Furies on the shot clock, with a count of 12 to 6.
The first goal of the game came 3:15 into the period. Gina Repaci sent a knuckler of a shot in from the point and Jess Jones managed to redirect it in midair to float past Tiley, 1-0 Thunder. Barbara was credited with the secondary assist.
The Furies seemed to be back on their heels for a while after the goal, defending instead of pressing, trying for the safe plays. Tiley, meanwhile, had to make a few excellent saves.
Alexis Woloschuk was called for tripping at 7:01. The Furies power play almost immediately gave up a shorthanded chance. In the absence of the biggest guns, Kessel ran a first power play unit of Stewart, Darkangelo, Dingeldein, Channell and Carlee Campbell. Toronto’s power play has been having some issues lately and the change in personnel did not lead to more effective scoring.
Woloschuk got the puck right out of the box. She didn’t quite manage a breakway but she forced Tiley to make a save.
With 5:40 left in the period the Furies were having some trouble coordinating a zone entry. On the second try, Darkangelo fed Stewart, who carried the puck in for Prévost. Prévost tied the game with a wicked, low shot that set the crowd on fire.
Fulton followed that up with a chance that showed off both her hands and her persistence as she hung onto the puck despite determined opposition from Markham. MacNeil also continued to find her way to the net, racking up her third one on one chance of the game.
Jenna Dingeldein was called for slashing with just over two minutes left in the period. The Furies’ aggressive penalty kill has caused problems for teams all season, but normally it’s Sarah Nurse and Natalie Spooner who are the culprits. First out this time were Quinn and Channell with Jess Vella and Julie Allen. They got the puck out of the defensive zone almost immediately. It was the second unit who followed up this good work by actually scoring. With 37 seconds left Shiann Darkangelo snapped the puck past Howe, assisted by Prévost and Suzuki.
Shots for the period favoured the Furies 7 to 6.
Toronto started the period with pressure. Mellissa Channell, who seemed to be on the ice almost constantly, set up MacNeil for a pair of chances before coming back a few minutes later to go end to end for a shot of her own.
Kristen Richards went off for her second cross-checking infraction of the game. The Thunder killed off that penalty without much incident.
It was Richards who tied the game for the Thunder on a very odd looking shot. With just under five minutes left she came into the Furies zone with Suzuki backchecking. Not far past the blue line Richards took the shot, Suzuki blocked, the puck caromed off her high into the air and towards Tiley. Tiley thought she had fought off the puck but in fact she knocked it into the net. Nicole Brown was credited with the assist.
Toronto stepped up their game in the final minutes, including a shot by Dingeldein, but the clock ran out, both teams got a point, and it was off to overtime.
The Furies dominated the shot clock in the third by a count of 8 to 4.
To start the five minutes of four on four, Kessel sent out Darkangelo, Prévost, Channell and Quinn.
Howe had to make a couple of stops on Prévost and Fulton.
About 90 seconds into extra time, with the Thunder in the Furies zone, Emily Fulton fell to the ice, seeming to hit her head as she went down. Play was stopped and the trainer came out. Fulton stayed down for a very long time but did eventually make it off the ice under her own power. She’s missed a number of games due to injury, it was scary to see her go down again.
Tiley made a couple of saves to keep the score tied, so the whole thing went to a shootout.
Jess Jones, Markham Thunder: save
Shiann Darkangelo, Toronto Furies: score
Nicole Kosta, Markham Thunder: save
Julie Allen, Toronto Furies: save
Kristen Barbara, Markham Thunder: save
Shiann Darkangelo was the hero of the game, and the Furies survived to continue their push for the playoffs.
3. Jess Jones, Markham Thunder (1 goal)
2. Carolyne Prévost, Toronto Furies (1 goal, 1 assist)
1. Shiann Darkangelo, Toronto Furies (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 shooutout goal)
When she was acquired by the Furies as a free agent this offseason Shiann Darkangelo was expected to provide a fair bit of secondary scoring. She hasn’t lived up to her point totals of last season but she stepped it up in this game when she was needed most.
Mackenzie MacNeil really impressed me this game, getting a lot of open ice in the offensive zone and making the most of it. She’s spent some time on the top line this season and it was easier to see why in this game.
Mellissa Channell showed exactly why she was selected to the All-Star Game this season. She stole pucks, prevented zone entries, created chances, got her own shots on net and was barely ever off the ice.
Sena Suzuki had one of her best games of the season. I am always in favour of Suzuki getting more ice time - she might not have much of a shot but she has an awareness of the play and a willingness to use not just her body but her stick to take chances away from the opposition. Her assist on the Darkangelo goal was her first point of the season.
The cross-town rivalry continues tomorrow at the Thornhill Community Centre as the Thunder host the Furies at 12:30 pm. Tickets are available online and the game will also be streamed. Mediajunkie will be at the Canada - USA game in Detroit so yours truly will have the recap.