After sweeping the Markham Thunder and tightening their grip on first overall in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League standings, the Inferno headed back to Alberta to host the 5th place Toronto Furies. Let’s take a look back at the action!
Game 1: TOR 4, CGY 1
The series opened with the second of the Inferno’s “home away from home” games this season, growing awareness of women’s hockey by playing home games at different sites throughout Alberta. This match was hosted in Red Deer at the Gary W. Harris Canada Winter Games Centre on Women’s Hockey Day.
We couldn’t run #FemaleHockeyDay without the help from our fantastic on-ice volunteers from the Calgary Inferno, RDC Queens, Olds College Broncos, Central Alberta Amazons, and #AFHL alumni! #FemaleHockeyDay #WhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/yImNX00PY8— Hockey Alberta (@HockeyAlberta) December 15, 2018
Penalty trouble was early and often, with three minors called in the first five minutes. While Toronto’s was just 30 seconds in, Calgary immediately shot themselves in the foot with penalties three minutes apart to Rebecca Leslie and Rebecca Johnston. The Furies’ Shiann Darkangelo took advantage with a Powerplay marker at 5:47, and just over two minutes later Toronto would notch another 5-on-4 Powerplay goal by Sarah Nurse for a 2-0 lead to stun the home crowd. Although Kacey Bellamy got the Inferno on the board at 13:31, Toronto would escape the first period with the lead and never looked back. The second period wound up scoreless, and the Furies tacked on two more goals in the final frame to hang on for the 4-1 victory. The Inferno managed to outshoot the opposition by a 36-22 margin, but were stymied by Toronto netminder Shea Tilley. Despite the loss, the most important part of the day was the great turnout for Female Hockey Day and the great effort for growing women’s hockey for the next generation!
Game 2: CGY 6, TOR 0
The Inferno headed back to the familiar confines of Winsport for Game 2, and were out to collect some payback! Kacey Bellamy was the first Inferno skater on the board for the second game in a row, burying a powerplay marker at 6:11 on the 1st frame.
Brianna Decker would add another goal late in the period, as Calgary doubled up on shots 14-7 to leave the period up by a pair. The next 20 minutes were much of the same, with the Inferno again oustshooting TOR by a 12-7 margin along the way to goals from Katelyn Gosling, Brianne Jenner, and Rebecca Johnston padding the lead. Brianne Jenner would grab her second goal of the game in the 3rd, and netminder Annie Belanger slammed the door to turn aside 21 total shots for the win and the shutout in CGY’s 6-0 victory.
With a whopping 8 points between the Decker-Johnston-Hickel line in Sunday’s contest, and a 2G 2A weekend from Kacey Bellamy, Calgary’s roster continues to find points. Team Captain Rebecca Johnston has now been 3rd in league scoring for her fifth consecutive weekend, and with a goal and five assists this weekend has closed the gap to being one point behind the league leaders from Montreal. Joined by Jenner and Decker at 6th and 9th, CGY still has the most players in the CWHL top ten scoring race while Rebecca Leslie and Zoe Hickel sit just outside the top ten at 11th & 12th with 15 points each.
In the crease, Alex Rigsby’s eight game starting streak finally came to an end this weekend, as Annie Belanger was handed the reigns for both games. Despite getting no run support in Saturday’s game, she bounced back to grab the SO and the win Sunday. Saturday’s loss was only Belanger’s first of the season in what is now six games played, with five wins and three shutouts in the process. That ties her for the lead league in shutouts (with seven less games played), and the highest SV% in the CWHL at .939. With her stellar numbers in less outings, it remains to be seen if she’ll see more playing time over Rigsby in the new year or if Alex will continue to see the bulk of the starts. Behind only perennial superstar Emerance Maschmeyer of Les Canadienns de Montreal, the Inferno boast the two best netminders in the CWHL in GAA rating.
With the split, Calgary’s remains in the standings lead. The squad remains the least penalized in the league with exactly 100 PIMs, 60 minutes less than the most penalized Markham Thunder. While second place Montreal is riding a five game win streak, the Inferno have held on to maintain a 3 point cushion.
The Inferno will be off for the CWHL Christmas Break for the next two weekends to enjoy some egg nog and gingerbread! They’ll then head back to Markham in the new year for another rematch series with the Thunder on January 5th and 6th, and will rematch with the Toronto Furies back in Alberta on January 12th & 13th before another set of time off for the CWHL All-Star Game in Toronto on January 20th.
We here at Matchsticks & Gasoline would like to wish a Happy Holidays to our Ladies and Red, and the very same to our dedicated readers! All the best over the holiday season, and we hope to see you back in the New Year for more Calgary Inferno action! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!