Saturday, January 21: 4-1 Inferno

Game Summary

For the second weekend in a row, the Furies were down to five defenders. This weekend, reserve player Jessica Platt was tapped as the fifth defender, drawing in for her third and fourth games of the season. Geneviève Lacasse was in goal for the Inferno and Christina Kessler started for the Furies.

Not unexpectedly, this was a faster game that any last weekend against the Thunder, and at first it looked like the Furies might be able to keep up with the Inferno. Jenelle Kohanchuk, on the first line with Kelly Terry and Jess Vella for this game, was dogging Calgary players and stealing pucks at every opportunity. Shannon Moulson — known more for her defence than her scoring prowess — even managed an early scoring chance.

The Furies got on the board first in this one eight minutes into the game with an almost textbook play: From just inside the Calgary blueline, Fast passed the puck to Stewart on her left. Stewart sent it down to Spooner who was at the half boards. Spooner fired high over Lacasse’s shoulder, hitting just inside the top bar and out again for the goal.  It was Ella Stewart’s first point this season.

The Furies held the lead for less than two and a half minutes of play. While I generally thought Kessler was moving better this game, the first Calgary goal was one of the worst I’ve ever seen her give up. Bailey Bram drew her well out of the crease and to her right before passing to Meaghan Mikkelson, who had a wide open net and the easy goal to tie the game.

The Mikkelson line struck again about three minutes later. This one was a more typical scramble in front of the Furies net that Kessler thought she had before it slid on in. The Inferno turned up the heat from here on in.

Erica Kromm took a boarding penalty with 2:05 left in the period, but the Furies’ power play continued to be fairly ineffective. They had a few opportunities but not enough shots, and gave up a shorthanded chance on a sloppy change.

There was no scoring in the second period. Calgary dominated for the first half - the majority of the time the puck left the Furies zone it was because Calgary had made a mistake somehow. Certainly, when Toronto had the puck they couldn’t sustain more than one shot at per entry into the Inferno zone.

Things evened out a little when Sarah Davis was called for hooking early in the second half of the period. The Furies’ first power play unit (Kohanchuk, Cava, Spooner, Allen and Fast) impressed me and kept up a steady pressure. Their second unit allowed a couple of shorthanded passes.

Once even-strength play resumed play was a lot more more end-to-end with some good chances for both teams, and the second turned out to be the best period for the Furies’ defence corps.

The third period started out well for the Furies with a short burst of early pressure. Spooner took a shot on Lacasse that resulted in a rebound right out front of the goal, but there was no one in the zone with her to finish the play and possibly tip one in.

The third Inferno goal was on a great shot by Blayre Turnbull through traffic. It sailed right past Kessler, who may not have even seen the puck before it was too late.

The refrain for this period, as with most of the game was “can’t get the puck out”. The Furies couldn’t coordinate to exit their own zone, managing only four shots on goal in the period, and the Inferno kept the pressure on.  The final goal came halfway through the period - Rebecca Johnston’s third point of the night. Kessler guessed wrong, started to move in the wrong direction, and Johnston took the opening.

Three Stars

  1. Rebecca Johnston (1G, 2A)
  2. Meaghan Mikkelson (2G)
  3. Natalie Spooner (1G)

Sunday, January 22: 5-0 Inferno

Game Summary

Sunday was the Furies Heritage Game for this season. They honoured the 2014 Clarkson Cup winning roster by wearing jerseys of those players during warmups, and several members of the 2014 Furies team came out with the Clarkson Cup to do the ceremonial faceoff.

For Sunday’s game, Sonja van der Bliek started for the Furies and Emerance Maschmeyer took the net for the Inferno.

The Furies barely had time to start skating before the Inferno scored in this one. Saulnier skated the puck in almost unchallenged before passing back to Turnbull, who fired a wicked shot past both Fast and van der Bliek just 33 seconds into the game.

One improvement the Furies made to their play in Sunday’s game was coming into the offensive zone with backup. While there were no Toronto goals this game, there were a number of chances involving a shooter backed up by another skater near the Calgary net ready for a rebound. In the first period I saw Spooner in with Erin Zach, Carolyne Prevost with Renata Fast and Kelly Terry with Emily Fulton.

Another notable pattern came from the lack of Furies defenders - several times the Furies had four forwards and one defender on the ice. Zach was frequently the fourth forward, and the three D that got the most icetime were Fast, Carlee Campbell and Shannon Moulson. Jessica Platt had a better game in her limited time on Sunday, where on Saturday she seemed  a fairly obvious weak point in the defence.

Again the second period was largely a better period for the Furies than the first. Toronto had a few chances, and Moulson and Campbell both managed to take Inferno puck carriers off course.  There was also an unfortunate near-collision mid-ice between Furies fourth-liners Vanessa Spataro and Danielle Gagne.

Noted pest Jess Vella was called for tripping with less than four minutes left in the period, allowing this power play goal by the Inferno:

I said to Species at the time “I could not tell you what on earth just happened” but clearly Saulnier totally meant to do that.

Going into the third, it was obvious Toronto was being somewhat outclassed. Calgary had seven current members of Team Canada in the lineup and it showed. Whenever they were in the Inferno zone and lost the puck to an opposing player the Furies immediately set up to defend a zone exit instead of pressuring the puck carrier. Only a few Furies skaters — mainly Spooner, Cava, Kohanchuk and Fast — were actually fast enough to really challenge Calgary, and Kohanchuk especially was often on the ice without anyone fast enough to back her up.

Still a 2-0 lead is hardly unsurmountable, even with Maschmeyer (currently presumed to be one of the goalies headed for Pyeongchang) in net. Furies fans still had hope.

Then the third goal happened. About five and a half minutes into the period the Inferno pressured the Furies in their own zone to the point where the puck was handed off behind the net one too many times, possession was lost and a goal — this time by Jessica Campbell — was won.

Katelyn Gosling, another player who has put in time on the National Team this year, scored the fourth goal  less than three minutes later. Van der Bliek overcommitted on a shot, the Furies failed to clear the rebound, and Tanis Lamoureux does not make a very good emergency backup goalie.

The final goal came less than two minutes later. Moulson couldn’t quite prevent a pass from Johnston to Bram, who had the inside track and at least a stride on Kelly Terry. Bram went high glove side on van der Bliek and that was all she wrote.

The Furies did try a last minute push, including a near-miss wraparound by Michela Cava, but in the end Maschmeyer got the shutout on just 18 shots.

Three Stars

  1. Brianne Jenner (1A) (credited with 2A but the video clearly shows Saulnier with the assist on the first goal)
  2. Blayre Turnbull (1G, 1A)
  3. Michela Cava

This was the final home weekend of the season for the Furies. Hopefully Baseball Annie will be able to get out to one of their games in Boston next weekend, and the game on Saturday February 4th at 3:45pm against les Canadiennes will also be on Sportsnet.