Calgary and Toronto split the past weekend, while Les Canadiennes took two of three games from Kunlun. The Inferno are still at the top of the league, as they hold a four-point lead over Les Canadiennes.
Toronto vs. Calgary
The Furies struck first on Saturday, with Emily Fulton scoring early in the first. Calgary responded with two goals to enter the second ahead 2-1. Jess Vella tied the game in the second, while the teams exchanged goals in the third period, forcing the game into overtime. Toronto finally won in the shootout. Toni Ross made 12 saves for Calgary, while Sonja van der Bliek stopped 43 pucks.
On Sunday, Calgary scored twice in the second after a scoreless first period. That was the final score, thanks to goals from Rhianna Kurio and Brittany Esposito.
"We buy in. We all are on the same page. We adjust, adapt and we respond to whatever is going on in a very good way, a very positive way," Calgary head coach Tomas Pacina said.
Van der Bliek made 34 saves and Lindsey Pist stopped 15 shots in the shutout win.
"[Post] reminds me of Carey Price from Montreal, she's such a calming presence in the net," Pacina said. "It seems like it's a hard shot, a big chance and she makes it look like it's jsut another ordinary save."
Les Canadiennes vs. Kunlun
Saturday's game started with a goal from Les Canadiennes' Erinn Noseworthy. It was all Kunlun from there, as Red Star scored a goal in the second and two in the third for the win. Emerance Maschmeyer made 18 saves, while Yuqing Wang made 23 in the win.
Les Canadiennes potted two goals to start the first period of Sunday's contest. Kunlun tied the game, thanks to a first-period goal from Madison Woo and a second-period goal from Melanie Jue. Les Canadiennes added two goals in the second and an inusrance goal early in the third to eventually come away with a 5-3 win. Siye He stopped 27 shots in the loss, while Catherine Herron stopped 25.
"It was a tough weekend for us. We did work really hard the last two games, we showed up, played more physical and played with speed," Les Canadiennes assistant coach Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux said.
Kunlun responded on Tuesday with a three-goal first period, thanks to goals from Jue, Kelli Stack, and Woo. Kayla Tutino and Ann-Sophie Bettez scored in the second to bring the score within one. Kunlun added another goal in the frame to enter the third ahead 4-2, and Red Star outscored Les Canadiennes 2-1 in the third for an eventual 6-3 win. Herron stopped 22 pucks, while Noora Räty made 35 stops for Kunlun.
"We did play more physically, but not enough," Breton-Lebreux said. "We're going to need to work on that physical aspect. It seems that this year the refs are letting a little bit more. The Chinese and Americans were bigger. We need to use our bodies better, so we'll practice that this week."
Three Up, Three Down
↑ Sonja van der Bliek: Van der Bliek had a strong showing for the Furies, as she stopped 77 pucks on the weekend. That included an impressive 43 saves in Toronto's win.
↑ Kunlun's physicality: "At the Bell Centre, they were winning the physical battles. I said physical often enough. [They] beat us physically. They were the first ones to hit, which made a difference," Breton-Lebreux said.
↑ Melanie Jue: Jue had a great weekend, as she scored her first CWHL points. She posted four points -- three goals and an assist -- against Les Canadiennes. She is on a three-game scoring streak and recorded a multi-point game in Kunlun's Saturday win over Les Canadiennes.
↓ Les Canadiennes' consistency: Les Canadiennes have struggled with consistency this season, and especially this past weekend.
"We need to bring it every game now. We need to bring a little bit more consistency in our effort as well as putting the puck in the net," Breton-Lebreux said. "It's not one player, it's every player that needs to bring it every shift. Not just one player on one shift and the next shift is a different player."
↓ Calgary's execution: The Inferno have still been playing well, but Pacina said the team needs to work on their passing.
"Execution of passes and reception of passes. We are a puck-possesion, puck-moving team, and passing is our bread and butter," Pacina said. "It's something that we just have to be better at in terms of accuracy, in terms of how you eceive passes. Softer hands, softer reception. Also the selection of passes. When to pass hard, when to just hand it off, when to pass it a little softer. And seeing who is open. On the ice we have options, who's open, and sometimes I feel we don't see the open ice and pass into pressure."
↓ One goaltender: Teams are moving further away from one starting goaltender, as several of them are employing a goaltending rotation. This partly has to do with key departures, like Charline Labonté, and a general mixup, thanks to the presence of expansion teams.
While the Thunder have used a rotation for the past several years, this phenomenon is new to teams like Les Canadiennes, even though they have Emerance Maschmeyer.
Coming up Next
Kunlun vs. Toronto: November 18 at 2:00 PM (Central Time); November 19 at 2:00 PM (Central Time); November 22 at 2:00 PM (Central Time) at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center
Vanke vs. Markham: November 18 at 7:30 PM (Central Time); November 19 at 7:30 PM (Central Time); November 22 at 7:30 PM (Central Time) at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center
(Photo: Kunlun Red Star)