The defending Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno didn't make it look pretty, but they got the job done during Opening Weekend for the CWHL, beating the Brampton Thunder by identical 3-2 scores Saturday and Sunday (the former in a shootout) at Winsport A and the Stampede Corral in Calgary.
Saturday night's opener started on the right note, as Rebecca Johnston scored 2:58 into the first period. By the end of the frame, however, it was 2-1 Brampton, as a parade to the penalty box disrupted Calgary's flow, allowing the Thunder multiple chances on the power play (and a goal by Shannon MacAulay late in the period). That lead would hold through the second period and into the last five minutes of the third, despite plenty of back-and-forth play and three power-play chances for Calgary.
Finally, Jillian Saulnier tied the score with 4:20 to go in the final frame, pushing the game to overtime and then the shootout. There, Maschmeyer held off all three Brampton shooters, and Brianne Jenner was the lone Inferno shooter to score on Howe, giving Calgary the comeback win.
Sunday, the tables turned a bit, with the Inferno carrying a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes of play off goals by Saulnier and Jenner. In a goal- and penalty-filled third period, the Thunder struck first to halve the lead, and then again with 8:11 remaining to pull the score to within one after Haley Irwin (back on the ice after missing most of two seasons with injury) scored on the power play. In the end, Irwin's goal cemented the deal for Calgary.
Maschmeyer (29 saves on Saturday) and Genevieve Lacasse (17 saves Sunday) each earned their first wins as members of the Inferno, with Maschmeyer also receiving her first win in the CWHL. Irwin wrapped up the weekend with her first two points in her comeback season, and despite not being the sharpest against a team that could well be their mirror image in Brampton, the Inferno fought for their four points thus far. Kaitlyn Gosling also earned starting duties Sunday in a pairing alongside Brigette Lacquette and seemed to do well, joining in the rush and earning an assist on Jill Saulnier's opening goal.
The Inferno now have two weeks off before their next matches in Boston on Oct. 29 and 30. The games are at 7 p.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively, at UMass Boston.