Coming into the season as somewhat of underdogs after losing quite a few names to Team Canada, the Calgary Inferno are back to reclaim their crown. A weekend sweep of the Toronto Furies, a five-game win streak, and no regulation losses midway through the season can definitely sway the competition.
This weekend, the Inferno swept the Toronto Furies for the second matchup of the season. They’ll meet one more time. The Furies came into the weekend on an eight-game losing streak. They had a two-game win streak before that, one game coming vs. the Inferno that was decided in a shootout.
Saturday’s game needed extra time as well. The Inferno were up 3-0 early in the second period with two goals from Kayla Gardner and a goal from Dakota Woodworth. But the Furies came back and this needed more than 60 minutes. Iya Gavrilova had the OT winner with 29 seconds left to increase her total to four goals on the year.
Jacquie Pierri was initially credited Woodworth’s goal, but it was later given to Woodworth. Pierri had another assist on Sunday to increase her point total to eight – a career-high. She played in her 100th game earlier this year and got her first ever CWHL goal in her 101st game. While she was happy about finally getting that goal, she also claimed it was slightly embarrassing that it took her this long.
“This team is so supportive, I feel very comfortable jumping in the offensive zone.” Said Pierri. “The girls know that I’m not comfortable and they really encourage me, and I think that’s making a big difference.
“I think our system really helps too, we are always having a third man high. I think everyone just feels a bit more empowered this year, the atmosphere is just really positive.”
Brittany Esposito had two goals in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Furies. She also set up the game-winner for Iya Gavrilova in Saturday’s 4-3 OT win over the Furies. Except for the game on Saturday, she’s had a goal in every game since returning from being concussed. With her first goal in Sunday’s contest, she became the franchise leader in goals with her 25th goal of her CWHL career.
“I kind of knew, I saw a Tweet about it.” Said Esposito. “It’s a huge honour, we’ve had a lot of really good players. I think it more so shows that I’ve been here for a while than anything. But it’s a huge honour and so much of that goes to my teammates this year and all the years before.”
“There weren’t a lot of nerves, we just wanted the four points this weekend. I think it was more so nerves about not playing for a while and then just kind of getting back into it, I think that’s where the nerves were and they kind of showed [Saturday]. It was all about getting those four points as a team.”
Espo’s playing in her fourth and final season with the Calgary Inferno as she’ll be leaving next year to coach in New Brunswick.
“It’s amazing to see how much the league has grown and this year, I couldn’t have asked for better teammates or a better coach. We’ve all come together so well and I’m having so much fun this season just being able to play and contribute.
“There’s only one way that we can end it perfectly and that’s winning the cup.”
Esposito’s tied for the team lead in goals with six and has 10 points in nine games this season. She and the Calgary Inferno will end 2017 in a three-way tie for the CWHL lead with 22 points and with the best points-percentage at 0.917.