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Spooner, Furies hand Inferno first loss in six games

Natalie Spooner's five goals Sunday put her at seven total and eight points overall against the Inferno this weekend, as the Furies earned a 6-5 win, splitting the weekend.
Natalie Spooner's five goals Sunday put her at seven total and eight points overall against the Inferno this weekend, as the Furies earned a 6-5 win, splitting the weekend.
Ari Yanover

The Calgary Inferno were almost able to claw back from a 6-2 deficit, but Christina Kessler and the Furies defense were able to hold off the Inferno's most potent forwards in the final seconds to preserve two points in a wild 6-5 win Sunday at Winsport.

The Furies prevailed on the strength of Natalie Spooner's five goals (yes, five, you don't need to zoom in on your browser) and the superb saves of Kessler in net, as well as a generally strong presence in their own end of the ice. Spooner scored her first two in the opening frame to get the Furies off to a good start; the first was on a set play, and the second was a beautiful high shot on Delayne Brian after Spooner's defender fell trying to get good positioning.

A power play goal by Brittany Esposito late in the period swung things momentarily Calgary's way, as Elana Lovell tied the game briefly with her team-leading eleventh goal of the season. But then Spooner turned back on, torching Brian for another three goals within four minutes. Sena Suzuki capped the scoring for the Furies, who chased Brian from the net and had the game firmly in hand after two.

However, brief lapses during the third period, as well as another penalty box extravaganza, allowed the Inferno's deadly offense and improving power play to capitalize. Esposito got a second goal on a good screen in front of Kessler, deflecting a Hayleigh Cudmore shot on the skater-advantage. Then Cudmore herself took a nice hard shot that beat Kessler low, and finally Campbell pulled it to within one goal after evading three or four Furies to get to the net, shooting from one knee. The Inferno ended up 3-for-6 on the power play, and Campbell's goal came with the extra attacker.

Despite all of these efforts, plus outshooting the Furies 22-6 in the final period, Calgary ended up running out of time and into plenty of resistance from Toronto's back end. Kessler finished with 40 saves, while Brian made 11 on 15 shots and Desjardins finished with eight on 10.

This game showcased Spooner's brilliance on the ice, as well as the defensive prowess of the entire Furies squad. Meanwhile, Calgary's power play came alive, but their even strength play sputtered against Toronto Sunday where it flourished Saturday, as Toronto forced their top shooters either too wide or too low to make any impact on Kessler. It wasn't really until the third period that you could tell they were finally adjusting, as evidenced by the shot totals and the number of goals (albeit they were all on special teams).

Either way, this is only Calgary's second loss in 12 games, which makes it a very special year for them thus far. They travel to Boston next weekend for a couple of games against the Blades, who have managed to keep up with a couple of other teams in-game but are still looking for a win this season after dropping two to Brampton this weekend.

Puck drop is set for 6:10 p.m. MST (8:10 EST) Saturday and 11:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m.) Sunday at New England Sports Complex. Streaming will be available via CWHL Live for Sunday's game.

Notes: Cudmore broke out this weekend with a pair of three-point games -- two goals and an assist Saturday and one goal, two assists on Sunday... Jillian Saulnier tallied three assists in the loss... Toronto was shorthanded 15 times over the course of the weekend. That puts them at 63 TSH total, the most in the league, and their penalty kill is a paltry 76 percent.