After playing their last four contests on the road and having them split in the middle with the Four Nations Cup break, the Inferno finally returned home to the friendly confines of Winsport for a much anticipated rematch series with their longstanding rivals, Les Canadiennes de Montreal. In the season opener series, the teams split the difference 1-1 in Quebec. Both teams were coming in hot to the rematch, with the Inferno having won seven straight since their lone loss to MTL in the first game of the year, while Les Canadiennes were riding a six game winning streak since dropping their second game of the year to Calgary. Let’s take a look back at the weekend’s action!
Game 1: CGY 4, MTL 2
The Inferno wasted little time coming out strong for their home fans, more than doubling MTL in shots 12-7 in the first frame. All-Star Canadiennes netminder Emerance Maschmeyer had come into the contest riding a four-game ten-period shutout streak, so the squad in red needed to keep the pedal down on offense. It was the right idea, as the Inferno broke Maschmeyer’s streak and notched a trio of markers in the first. Kaitlyn Willoughby, Rebecca Johnston, and Brigette Lacquette collected the goals for Calgary.
Montreal would roar back in the 2nd, putting a pair past CGY netminder Alex Rigsby just five minutes apart in the first half of the second frame. Montreal would carry over 102 seconds of powerplay time from a late 2nd frame Brianna Decker penalty to start the 3rd period, as they looked for the equalizer. It was not to be however, as Inferno leading scorer Rebecca Johnston would accept the pass from Brianne Jenner at 0:44 for a shorthanded marker to seal the win in Game One!
Game 2: CGY 3, MTL 2
Les Canadiennes were out for vengeance in a hurry in the Sunday matchup, as despite being outshot 13-7 they escaped the first frame ahead in the scoring at 2-0 on goals by Belanger and Poulin. The Inferno didn’t let up, peppering Macshmeyer with another dozen shots in the next 20 minutes. The special teams magic continued early in the 2nd, as an Inferno penalty on Kacey Bellamy carried over into the second for Montreal, but Calgary notched their second shorthanded goal in as many games. It was Halli Krzyzaniak who broke the ice with the early SHG, while Zoe Hickel would add an unassisted goal at 9:23 to knot things up at 2 for CGY. Things went back and forth in the 3rd period as the intensity amped up, with both teams unable to capitalize on powerplay advantages and the shots at 8-7 in favor of Montreal. Things looked like they were headed to extra time, until Blayre Turnbull ended things in the nick of time for a 3-2 final score and Calgary’s ninth straight victory!
TURNBULL SCORED THE GAME WINNER WITH 25.8 SECONDS LEFT! ASSISTED BY LESLIE AND KRZYZANIAK! #CGYvsMTL— Calgary Inferno (@InfernoCWHL) November 25, 2018
Although she was held off the scoresheet in Sunday’s contest, Inferno forward Rebecca Johnston continued to pad her points total in the CWHL scoring race.
Johnston sits tied for third overall in league scoring, keeping pace as she was in the same spot last week. With 10G and 7A, she’s current deadlocked with Montreal’s Ann-Sophie Bettez and only a point back of the league lead in points. With three powerplay assists and a 1.40 PPG pace, she is the only Inferno skater in the Top 10 of CWHL scoring.
The remainder of the Inferno lineup continues to share the scoring load as Decker, Jenner, and Turnbull sit with ten points each to lead the rest of the team in points. Halli Kryzaniak leads the team with 16 PIMs, which is isn’t even close to the league lead of 38 from Toronto’s Renata Fast which speaks volumes to Calgary’s discipline this year.
In net, Alex Rigsby reclaimed the reigns after Annie Belanger saw four straight starts. Rigsby had opened the season with four starts in a row of her own, and with the pair of starts and wins this weekend has moved into the team lead for wins with 5, edging Belanger by one. The workload split has paid major dividends in Calgary’s blue paint, as Annie Belanger currently sits with the CWHL’s best SV% at .944, and Alex Rigsby sits with the league’s best GAA at 1.34
With a .900 winning percentage and a +29 goal differential, the Inferno hang on to sole possession of first place in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League!
The Inferno are sticking around Alberta, as their homestand continues for the next two contests. The reigning and defending Clarkson Cup Champion Markham Thunder are heading in for a weekend series. Saturday December 1st at Max Bell Arena 2 at Winsport, and the first of their “home away from home” games on Sunday December 2nd to be held in Cochrane, Alberta. Keep it locked to Matchsticks & Gasoline to see if our Ladies In Red can continue their winning ways!