It took overtime, but the Inferno finally got what they were waiting for -- a confirmed spot in the Clarkson Cup playoffs.
Hayleigh Cudmore scored on a beautiful play by Rebecca Johnston just 1:10 into the extra five minutes to lift her team over the Furies, 3-2, after the Inferno gave up a two-goal lead in the third period.
Brittany Esposito got a much-needed first goal for the Inferno in the opening frame after Jessica Wong made a great pass from a scrum along the boards, finding Esposito all alone in the slot. Then Wong herself capitalized, roofing the puck over Christina Kessler's shoulder on a play by Esposito and Sarah Davis to give Calgary a 2-0 lead.
But as good as the good moments in this game were, the Inferno often found themselves almost getting burned on turnovers and general sloppiness in their own zone. That sloppiness caught up to them at the beginning of the third period, where Jenelle Kohanchuk beat Delayne Brian on the short side just 1:20 in, and it continued after some pressure in Toronto's zone, when Kohanchuk tied the game on her second goal of the afternoon. The Inferno tried to get the tiebreaker late in the third, but to no avail -- Michelle Bonello, who had a strong game overall, led her defense in blocking shots and taking away the lanes in front of Kessler.
Overtime, though, was all Calgary. Johnston flew into the offensive zone, drawing everyone to her and finding Cudmore all alone in front of the net. She set up a perfect one-timer for Cudmore, ending the game and giving Calgary a playoff berth for the second year in a row.
The win today keeps Calgary (26 pts) atop the standings by one point, as Montreal beat Brampton handily by a score of 6-1 and leapfrogged over Boston for second place in the league with 25 points. The overtime loss did give Toronto another point, which helps the fourth-place Furies pull away from the Thunder for that final Clarkson Cup spot.
Next week, the Inferno and Blades face off in what will be an entertaining battle of wits between two teams the rest of the league has been trying to catch up with all season.
- Stars forward Caroline Ouellette surpassed Jayna Hefford for all-time points leader Saturday in Montreal's 4-3 win over Brampton. She now has 239 total points after Sunday's effort, in which she tallied two goals and two assists. Hefford is currently inactive this season.
- The Clarkson Cup begins March 4 in Markham, Ont. The top four teams in the league will compete against each other, first seed vs. fourth and second vs. third, in a best-of-three series. The championship game will be played March 7. Tickets are available now.