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Inferno: Season Preview

An Offseason Of Change Sets The Stage For The 2018-19 Campaign

The 2018-19 Calgary Inferno season is set to begin on October 13th as our Ladies In Red head out on the road to open up at two game set against their biggest rivals, Les Canadiennes de Montreal in Laval, Quebec. As we get set for a new year, the Inferno had an offseason full of change. Let’s take a look at the notable faces who are departing, some who are returning, and the new blood that hopes to push the Inferno ever closer to a second Clarkson Cup Championship:

Who’s out?

Brittany Esposito (retirement)- Last year’s Inferno scoring leader is hanging up her skates to become assistant coach to the University of New Brunswick’s women’s hockey team.

Delayne Brian (retirement)- The 2016 Clarkson Cup finals MVP goalie is stepping away to focus on her personal career.

Jaquie Pierri (retirement)- The five year Inferno veteran is pursuing her Masters in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship

Toni Ross- Goaltender Ross is stepping away to focus on her personal career.

Brittany Fouracres- Defenseman Fouracres is also stepping away to focus on her personal career.

Sophie Shirley- The 2018 CWHL Rookie of the Year Award winner is departing to attend the university of Wisconsin

Kennedy Brown- Departing to attend University of Saskatchewan

Tomas Pacina- Last season’s CWHL Coach of the Year award winner has chosen to step down as Inferno head coach.

Who’s In?

Shannon Miller- As perhaps the biggest “win now” move of the offseason, the signing of new Head Coach Shannon Miller sends a clear signal to the rest of the CWHL. Many on the Inferno roster have already decreed it an honor to be playing under Miller, as her stunning resume and reputation speak for itself. During her time in US College Hockey, Miller reigned in eleven Frozen Four Tournament Wins, and five NCAA Division 1 national championships. She was also the fastest head coach in NCAA Division 1 history to reach the 250 and 300th win plateaus. Although a native of Saskatchewan, Miller returns to Calgary after previously having spent a decade as an officer with Calgary City Police, and in 1989 was integral in starting Calgary’s first Girl’s Minor Hockey Association.

2018 Winter Olympians- After missing time for the PyeongChang Olympics last season, forwards Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, and Blayre Turnbull will join defenseman Brigette Lacquette in returning full-time to the Calgary lineup. All four were members of the Silver Medal Team Canada squad. From the Gold Medal winning Team USA squad, Calgary locked down forward Brianna Decker and defenseman Kacey Bellamy. Defenseman Aina Takeuchi represented Team Japan in PyeongChang and returns to the Inferno after previously being a member of their 2016 Clarkson Championship team.

Rebecca Leslie & Halli Krzyzaniak – Forward Leslie and defenseman Krzyzaniak were both signed from the NCAA ranks. Leslie spent four years with the Boston University Terriers, were she was captain in her final season. Krzyzaniak spent four years with the University of North Dakota. Both skaters bring international experience as former members of U18 Team Canada squads.

Zoe Hickel & Tori Hickel- This sisterly duo had different paths to the Inferno. Forward and older sister (25) Zoe was a free agent signing who led the CWHL in assists in her rookie season last year with Kunlun Red Star. Defenseman and younger sister (24) Tori was drafted by the Inferno in the fifth round of this year’s CWHL draft.

Analysis:

While the Inferno lost some veteran and high-contribution names, there has certainly been league-wide buzz about the aggressive moves made by General Manager Kristen Hagg to load up the team for the season ahead. It’s no secret that the organization was disappointed by it’s heartbreaking Triple Overtime elimination in last year’s playoffs, and they’ve certainly made major strides to prevent anything less than a Clarkson Cup Final moving forward. They also hope to right the team’s past regular season struggles against rival and Eastern powerhouse Montreal as they head into the season opener. Calgary’s home opener series comes up on October 20th for a pair of contests against the Shenzen-Kunlun Red Star, a now-permanent merger squad of the league’s two China based teams from last season. Another notable date is their first test against the defending Clarkson Cup Champion Markham Thunder in back-to-back home and away weekends December 1st & 2nd and 8th & 9th . This year’s China trip doesn’t take place until the final three games of the regular season as they’ll head to Shenzen in February. For now it’s off to Laval for a showdown with Les Canadiennes de Montreal, and we wish our Ladies In Red the best of luck this weekend and in the 2018-2019 season ahead!