The Calgary Inferno are already doing what they did best last season -- dominating offensively -- as they beat the Boston Blades, 7-1, at Winsport Arena Saturday.
Jessica Campbell earned the first star of the night with a two-goal performance, and 13 different players dotted the scoresheet, as the Inferno lit up Genevieve Lacasse with 56 shots and seven goals to the Blades' one goal on 19 shots.
The bulk of Calgary's goals came in the first period, as Jill Saulnier, Campbell, Elana Lovell and new captain Brianne Jenner scored in the span of about 3:37, setting the pace for the game early on. They were deadly fast and aggressive on the forecheck, at times overwhelming the front of the net and setting Boston back on its heels. Although they missed some shots early on, they seemed to settle in as the game progressed.
Meanwhile, all that time spent in the offensive zone ensured Delayne Brian didn't have too much work to do on her end. Whenever Boston did get into Calgary's end of the ice, they did so only to encounter a quick clear off of a dump, or a turnover the other way. Very often, Lacasse had to bail out her team, particularly on a number of breakaways by Brittany Esposito, Sarah Davis, and others. She finished the night with 49 saves, carrying her impressive play from last weekend against Toronto over to Calgary.
Boston's only break came midway through the final period, when Tara Watchorn sent a booming shot from the blueline to the front of the net. Megan Myers was able to poke the puck just past Brian's left side, getting the Blades on the board. However, from that point on it was back to dominance for the Inferno, who scored their seventh goal on a shot by Rhianna Kurio with 32 seconds left.
This complete steamrolling came with two big names absent for the Inferno. Rebecca Johnston and Haley Irwin were both scratched prior to Saturday's game, with no solid timetable set for their returns. It is unclear at this point whether Irwin is still feeling aftereffects of her concussion in Sochi or if Johnston is injured (though it looks as though she might be). Still, the stacked offense ensured that while they are missed, as of right now, the Inferno are just fine.
Heading into Sunday's morning matchup, here are some questions:
- Can Lacasse repeat her performance from Saturday? She has now likely faced more rubber than any of her counterparts in the league, and while a goalie of her caliber usually likes to be busier than not, a fourth game straight of more than 40 shots seems daunting.
- Can Boston's skaters step up and protect their goalie? Calgary seemed to overpower them in all three zones, but against this team you need an entire blueline to step up. Watchorn did what she could, at one point sweeping away a puck that trickled toward the goal line after Lacasse stopped the initial shot. But neither she nor Lacasse can do it all.
- How many will Calgary score Sunday? The offense looked unstoppable. While Boston will probably try to implement something different in Game Two, it just seems as though the Inferno are on another level entirely at this point -- not as well-rounded as they could be, but definitely entertaining.