The Calgary Inferno returned from the Christmas break to try to keep grasp on the top spot in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Their weekend series was a rematch with the defending Clarkson Cup Champions Markham Thunder. Let’s head back to check out the action in the two games from Ontario!
Game 1: CGY 4, MRK 3
As Markham has tended to do this season, they got out to a quick lead in the Saturday game. Laura Fortino opened the scoring at 12:57 of the opening frame, capitalizing on the powerplay from a Kelly Murray penalty for roughing. The Thunder carried that 1-0 lead into the second period, but the Inferno found their legs and responded midway. Captain and leading scorer Rebecca Johnston found the back of the net at 12:45 for the tie, and just one minute and fifty five seconds later Blayre Turnbull followed up with a goal to take the lead. Heading into the 3rd, Markham had the lead in shots at 28-20 despite trailing. Calgary added insurance to their lead late in the game at 15:20 of the final frame off a Brianne Jenner tally to make it 3-1 for the visiting side. However, the Champs wouldn’t go away quietly. Markham would roar back with a pair of goals just over two minutes apart, including the game tying marker from their leading scorer Victoria Bach with just 31 seconds left! That would force overtime with things notted up 3-3! Overtime almost solved nothing, as it looked like we would have been headed to a shootout. But with only 13 seconds left in the extra stanza, Kacey Bellamy would prove to be the hero of the day, accepting the assist from Katelyn “Goose” Gosling to bury the winner in OT!
This lady got the game-winning goal with just 13 seconds left in OT pic.twitter.com/By99iiEldc— Calgary Inferno (@InfernoCWHL) January 6, 2019
Game 2: CGY 5, MRK 4
The Sunday rematch saw the Thunder up to their old tricks, coming out of the gates to score first. Jenna McParland opened the scoring with the man advantage for the home side for the second time in as many games, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 powerplay at 11:17 for the 1-0 lead. The Calgary penalties were to Erica Kromm and Brigette Laquette, and with Laquette still in the penalty box the Thunder would take advantage again with a Megan Bozek PP goal just 37 seconds after they opened the scoring. Down by a pair, it was the Inferno’s turn to mount a comeback and they did just that in the second period. Outshooting the home side 15-11 in the second, Brianne Jenner notched her second goal of the series with a PP marker just 1:43 into the 2nd, and it was all CGY from there! With goals from Gosling, a third of the weekend from Jenner, and another from Johnston the visitors came out with a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. Blayre Turnbull would score her second goal in as many game to make it 5-2 Calgary in the 3rd, but once again the Thunder were up to the task. Laura Fortino would answer back for the Thunder less than a minute later, and the comeback was on as Jamie Lee Rattray would add another with just 15 seconds left in regulation. This time however, time was not the friend of Markham as they were unable to notch the tying goal in the dying seconds and Calgary would hold on for a 5-4 victory and the series sweep!
Team Captain and scoring leader Rebecca Johnston continues her torrid 1.56 Points Per Game pace, sitting at third place in CWHL scoring for the sixth consecutive weekend this season. She is currently four points back of Les Canadiennes de Montreal’s dynamic duo of Ann-Sophie Bettez and Marie-Philip Poulin who sit at 15 goals and 17 assists each to be tied at 32 points. Johnston’s 28 points are still good enough for the team lead, although Brianne Jenner has surpassed her by one for the team lead in goals (more on that in News & Notes below). The rest of the Inferno top ten rounds out as follows:
In the blue paint, Alex Rigsby saw another pair of starts this weekend and continues to get the nod over Annie Belanger. With six games played collecting five wins and three shutouts in the process, Belanger’s numbers have been stellar in her smaller sample size, but Rigsby’s doubled her in starts (12) for the bulk of the workload to this point. Behind only Montreal superstar goalie Emerance Maschmeyer, Alex sits at league 2nd place in wins (10) GAA (1.89) and save percentage (0.928%) so there are few complaints to be had either way regarding goalie minutes for Calgary.
The pair of wins keeps the team in top spot in the league, but rival Montreal is still hot on their heels only three points back. After a tough weekend penalty wise, Calgary is no longer the least penalized team in the league. They’ve moved up to second least, with 122 total PIMs and the honour now going to the Shenzen KRS Vanke Rays at 118.
News & Notes:
-Brianne Jenner’s big weekend included two goals in the Sunday contest and one on Saturday, moving her to the team lead in goals and a big milestone passing 100 career CWHL points.
Brianne Jenner is on a tear this season! She currently has 13 goals to lead the Inferno and has already scored 3 in 2019! She also hit 100 CWHL points in the final game of 2018— Calgary Inferno (@InfernoCWHL) January 6, 2019
Congratulations, Brianne! pic.twitter.com/AIwADKepIJ
- The Inferno’s highest scoring defenseman, Brigette Lacquette, already selected to the CWHL All-Star Game roster, has now been voted a Team Captain for one of the squads. Brigette joins eight other Calgary players heading to the ASG, which is the most of any CWHL team. In addition to Lacquette, the team will send Rebecca Johnston, Blayre Turnbull, Alex Rigsby, Brianna Decker, Zoe Hickel, Brianne Jenner, Kacey Bellamy and Halli Kryzaniak. The All- Star Game goes January 20th, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.
The Inferno will return to Alberta next weekend to host the Toronto Furies on January 12th & 13th. Saturday sees the return of the annual “Start The Spark” game for youth mental health awareness, featuring special purple jerseys and fundraising for the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Center. The game goes at 6:30 at Winsport Arena A. Sunday’s noon contest sees the continuation of the “home away from home” series the Inferno have been participating in this season, hosting games in different sites around the Calgary area to grow awareness and support of women’s hockey. Games have already been hosted in Cochrane and Red Deer, and next they’ll host the game from Okotoks, Alberta at the Pason Centennial Arena. Check back with M&G in two weeks to see how our Ladies In Red have fared!