Welcome to Inferno Alphabet Soup, a acronym analysis for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Calgary I-N-F-E-R-N-O!
This week we have a look back at Week 14, as the regular season came to an end in Montreal, and the Inferno look ahead to the playoffs!
I- It Happened Again
That turned into a pretty haunting quote from early this year, as the Inferno finish the 2017-2018 campaign having dropped all four contests against arch-rival Montreal. Calgary got steamrolled in Game 1 of the final series, as the shot clock went 35-17 in favour of Les Canadiennes en route to a 4-0 MTL shutout victory. Game 2 was a little closer with a 35-21 final shot count for MTL, and Brianne Jenner and Dakota Woodworth managed to break through with goals for CGY. Things might have headed to extra time, but Montreal’s Sarah Lefort took the late 3-2 lead at 17:41 in the 3rd to seal it. Star goalie Emerance Maschmeyer now goes down having started all four games against the Inferno this year, registering wins in every start and a pair of shutouts, and a pair of 1st Star of the Game nods in both shutouts.
N- Not The Best Finish
Closing out the regular season, the Inferno lost their final four games played and have skidded their way into playoffs having lost 7 of their last 12 games played. It was not the way anyone envisioned the final stretch going, as back in January they were directly in the hunt for 1st place overall in the CWHL. Add to that the return from injury of starting goalie Delayne Brian, and forwards Brianne Jenner and Blayre Turnbull returning from their Silver Medal Olympic stint, the forecast looked clear for Calgary to stay in the hunt. Instead they finished out to 3rd overall, and out of having home ice advantage in playoffs.
F- First Round Matchup
It’s a big best of three first round showdown against the Kunlun Red Star of Shenzen, China! Calgary took 3 of 4 regular season contests against the Red Star, the lone loss being a 4-3 overtime thriller that ended with one second left in OT. With the exception of one 4-1 CGY victory, every game was decided by one point. Kunlun boasts scoring star Kelli Stack, who finished 1st in league scoring (49 points in 28 games played, 1st in goals with 26, 1st in GWG with 5, 1.75 points per game average) and has 2 goals and 4 assists in her four games against CGY this season. Her Red Star team mate, Zoe Hickel, led the league in assists with 26. Contrast that with the fact the previously high-powered Inferno offense has sputtered, scoring goals-for of 1-1-0-2 in their last four contests. However, Calgary is the only team in the CWHL to have a winning record this season against Kunlun. Buckle up!
E- Excellence Awarded
The annual Canadian Women’s Hockey League Awards are coming up on March 23rd! There are three nominees representing the Inferno this year:
Tomas Pacina, nominated for Coach of the Year;
Katelyn Gosling, nominated for Defenseman Of The Year;
Sophie Shirley, nominated for Rookie of the Year;
Best of luck to all our Inferno nominees!
R- Return of the Queen!
Inferno starting goalie Delayne Brian was named the CWHL’s Goalie Of The Week! Sidelined with a practise-sustained injury Halloween last year, Brian finally made her return to the crease on January 20th, and finishes the regular season with 7 wins and 4 losses. Brian is one of the CWHL’s most accomplished athletes, joining the Inferno in the fall of 2013. She backstopped Calgary to an 8-3 victory in the 2016 Clarkson Cup Championship victory over Les Canadiennes de Montreal, turning aside 41 shots and being named the Clarkson Cup’s Most Valuable Player. She was the 2014 CWHL Goaltender Of The Year, the 2015 ISBHF Women’s Top Goaltender on the gold-medal winning Team Canada ball hockey squad, and a starter on the silver-medal IIHF Women’s Under-18 Championships Canadian team in 2008. This is Delayne’s second time in three weeks taking home Goalie Of The Week, and is the final netminder of the season to take home the honour!
N- Netminding On The Mind
On the topic of Delayne Brian, as the playoffs drew closer the Inferno’s three-goalie system started to get widdled down. First there were three, then two, and now but one. Rookie goalie Toni Ross went the final eight games of the regular season without a start, as her fellow rookie goalie Lindsey Post battled it out for starts with Delayne Brian. While Post has collected three Goalie of the Week acknowledgements and put up a fantastic rookie campaign, it looks like Coach Pacina is going with Brian’s experience. In the end, Delayne got three straight starts to close out the regular season, and we would expect her to get the first start in the playoffs.
O- On To The Next!
The Clarkson Cup playoff matches are set, and the Markham Thunder will try to upset Les Canadiennes de Montreal to make their way to the winner-take-all one game Clarkson Cup Finals. The Inferno are attempting to make their third finals appearance in as many seasons. Calgary kicks things off on Friday Mark 16th at 5:30 Mountain against Kunlun, and game 2 goes Saturday March 17th at 2:30 Mountain. Game Two, and the if-necessary Game 3 set for 3:30 March 18th, will be broadcast LIVE on theCWHL.com
Best of luck to our Ladies In Red in round one! Keep tuned to M&G for updates along the way!