The Inferno headed into this weekend on a nine-game winning streak and in sole possession of first place in the CWHL, while the defending Clarkson Cup Champion Markham Thunder were headed to Alberta to try and put a stop to the red hot Inferno momentum. Let’s take a look back at this weekend’s action!
Game 1- MRK 3, CGY 2 (Shootout)
And here is your Calgary Inferno starting lineup! pic.twitter.com/uG3ykVkCoK— Calgary Inferno (@InfernoCWHL) December 1, 2018
The defending champions came out of the gates early, notching a goal from Jenna McParland in the first period at 7:57 and carrying that 1-0 lead into the second frame. Despite being outshot by Calgary 17-12 in the first 20 minutes, Thunder goalie Erica Howe was sharp and her squad took advantage. Markham would capitalize on a Blayre Turnbull interference penalty for the home side and bury a powerplay goal from Victoria Bach at 9:37 of the 2nd for the two goal lead. It would take the Inferno a little over five minutes to find their way onto the scoresheet, but forward Rebecca Leslie answered the call! With assists to Turnbull and Brianne Jenner at 14:56, the lead was cut in half. Calgary didn’t let up, combining for 26 total shots through the final 40 minutes of regulation for a whopping 43 aimed at Erica Howe over 60 minutes. They’d break through again 4:34 into the 3rd, as Rebecca Johnston would grab as assist on the goal by Zoe Hickel to tie things at 2 and send us to overtime! The extra stanza solved nothing with shots being 3-2 for the Inferno in OT, so we were off to a shootout!
Kristen Barbara was the only shooter to make good on their attempt in the shootout, as she gave Markham the victory with a 3-2 final score. Turning aside 46 total shots as well as shutting down all three of the Inferno’s skaters in the SO, visiting goalie Erica Howe earned first star of the game for her effort in ending the bid for 10 straight wins a row for the Calgary side.
Game 2- CGY 5, MRK 3
The Sunday matchup saw the Inferno heading out on the road for the first of their five “home away from home” games to be played this year at various different locations in and around the Calgary area. The team was headed out to Cochrane, AB this time to try and split the series with Markham.
Girls Hockey Cochrane threw a tailgate and no amount of snow will stop these kids pic.twitter.com/nl0d9XaGoL— Calgary Inferno (@InfernoCWHL) December 2, 2018
The Thunder got into early penalty trouble as Richards would sit for tripping only 42 seconds into the game, and CGY would take advantage with a powerplay goal from Rebecca Leslie! Markham answered right back a minute-and-a-half later and we’d end the first period tied at 1-1, with the Thunder leading in shots 13-10. Markham skaters Jamie Lee Rattray and Ailish Forfar would take respective roughing and slashing penalties only a minute apart at 18:48 and 19:48 of the 1st, so CGY carried a 5-on-3 advantage to start the 2nd. Forty three seconds into the period, Rebeca Johnston was at it again with her first PPG of the year and 4th powerplay point overall to make things 2-1. With Forfar still in the box, the Inferno struck again less than a minute after that via a PPG from Blayre Turnbull. CGY didn’t look back after that, as a Venla Hovi goal and a Zoe Hickel goal would extend the lead to 5-3 by the end of the 2nd and hold that lead for a final score and a step back into the win column!
With a goal and a pair of assists over the weekend, CGY leading scorer Rebecca Johnston held onto to her spot at 3rd in CWHL scoring for the third straight weekend. With 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points, she’s currently three points back of Montreal’s Anne-Sophie Bettez’s 20 points for the lead league overall. Johnston sits at a +13 on the year so far and currently contributing at a 1.42 points-per-game clip. And just for good measure, Rebecca was named the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Player Of The Month for November!
With big weekends from Zoe Hickel and Blayre Turnbull as well, here’s a look at how the rest of the team’s top ten scorers are divvying things up:
In the crease, Alex Rigsby got back to back starts this weekend which pushed her to six straight games played. This now doubles up Rigsby in starts over Annie Belanger at 8-4, although in her four starts Belanger posted no losses, along with a pair of shutouts. Unfortunately, Rigsby has been the netminder for CGY’s only two losses so far this season which might just be a symptom of seeing the majority of the time in the blue paint. We’ll look to next series to find out if Inferno Head Coach Shannon Miller decides to get back to splitting starts or if she’ll continue to hand Alex Rigsby the reigns.
Despite the loss and the end of the win streak, the team remains in first overall, with a three point lead on rival Montreal. With 70 PIMs on the season, Calgary remains the least penalized squad in the CWHL, with Shenzen coming in second at 82 and Montreal in 3rd at 92. Team discipline has certainly been a major boon the Inferno’s success so far this season.
News And Notes:
- The team has officially announced it’s leadership group for the season. To no one’s real surprise, Rebecca Johnston gets the honour of wearing the “C” on her sweater as Team Captain. Brianna Decker and Blayre Turnbull get the nod as alternates and will wear the “A” during road games, while Zoe Hickel and Brianne Jenner will share the responsibility and wear their alternate captaincy letters during home games.
- Three Calgary players have been named to the CWHL All-Star Team. Netminder Alex Rigsby will be joined by skaters Rebecca Johnston and Blayre Turnbull. More All-Star roster announcements are expected in the coming weeks leading up to the big game. The All-Star game is set for January 20th, 2019 and will be hosted at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON.
The Inferno will change locations next weekend, but they won’t change opponents! The two-game rematch series against Markham takes place at the Thornhill Community Centre in Ontario next Saturday the 8th at 5:30PM MST and Sunday the 9th at 11:30 MST. The Sunday game will be broadcast live on http://www.thecwhl.com/watch Tune into the game and check back with Matchsticks & Gasoline to see how our first place Ladies In Red fare!