This week only had two series, both in the GTA and both featuring the Chinese teams. Alex Carpenter reminded everyone that she is indeed still good at hockey, and the Markham Thunder reminded everyone that they're great at having games go to overtime, whether it's in their favor or not.
Kunlun Red Star returned to action by sweeping the Furies and joining Les Canadiennes at the top of the standings (though with two more games played). Markham and Vanke split the weekend, which left the Rays three points ahead in the battle for fourth place.
Around the League
- The Markham Thunder added recent U.S. national team cut Megan Bozek
- Jessica Platt of the Toronto Furies announced that she's a transgender athlete
- Kunlun Red Star draft pick Alex Carpenter joined the team, apparently replacing Annina Rajahuhta, who also wore number nine and did not dress this weekend
- The schedule of regular season games that will be televised on Sportsnet was revealed
Kunlun Red Star vs. Toronto Furies
The Furies, fresh off their streak-breaking win over Boston, hosted Kunlun, who just added surprise U.S. Olympic team cut Alex Carpenter.
Carpenter opened Saturday's scoring on the power play 6:10 into the second period, an effort that held up as the game-winner. Rachel Llanes earned her first goal of the season midway through the third, and the Red Star took the game, 2-0.
Noora Räty made 16 saves for the shutout, while Sonja van der Bliek stopped 36 of 38 pucks faced.
On Sunday, Kelli Stack gave Kunlun the lead midway through the first, and Carpenter added a power-play marker just under two-and-a-half minutes later.
Jessica Wong made it 3-0 early in the second, and Carpenter closed out the period with another power-play goal.
The third followed much the same script, as Stack netted her second of the game 3:50 in and Carpenter completed her hat trick with 2:11 remaining for a 6-0 final score.
Toronto mostly stayed out of the box, but couldn't kill either of its penalties on Sunday, though that might say more about Carpenter -- who scored all of Kunlun's power-play goals this weekend -- than about the Furies. Despite a combined eight attempts with the advantage, Toronto couldn't put a puck past Räty all weekend.
Räty turned away 28 shots in Sunday's shutout, while van der Bliek allowed six goals on 32 chances.
Vanke Rays vs. Markham Thunder
Markham finally has a healthy roster, and it showed on Saturday. Jenna McParland, who returned on January 6 after having been out of the lineup since November 19, tallied a hat trick to lead the Thunder to a 6-3 win in a back-and-forth affair.
Devon Skeats opened the scoring just under five minutes into the game, and Laura McIntosh doubled the lead on the power play with just over five minutes left in the period.
Kristen Richards scored 1:54 into the second, and McParland got her first of the season with the skater-advantage just 1:50 after that. Fang Xin put Vanke on the board during a 6-on-5 just 32 seconds later, but McParland scored again less than a minute-and-a-half after that. Brooke Webster made it 5-2 on the power play at 15:06 to end the period.
Emma Woods narrowed the gap to two with a power-play goal midway through the third, but McParland rounded out her hat trick with 1:46 remaining.
Liz Knox stopped 20 of 23 shots for the win, while Elaine Chuli made 40 saves on 46 chances for Vanke.
Sunday's game was an outreach event played in Clarington, Ontario.
Jamie Lee Rattray opened the scoring just 44 seconds into the second period, and Fang tied it up 34 seconds later.
Rattray restored Markham's lead midway through the third, shorthanded, but Emily Janiga forced overtime with a power-play goal with 1:31 remaining.
The teams went to a shoot-out after the extra session solved nothing.
Vanke's Emma Woods scored the only goal of the shootout, handing the Rays the 3-2 win. Taylor Woods, Rattray, and McParland were all stopped for Markham, while Janiga was turned away for Vanke.
Chuli saved 44 of 46 shots through 65 minutes, while Erica Howe made 32 saves on 34 shots at the other end of the ice.
It marked the eighth time in 20 games that the Thunder have gone to extra time.
Complete with the game on January 6, Markham takes this series 2-1, though the Rays win the season series, 3-2. Vanke next faces Calgary, who are tied with them in points -- in fact, every team the Rays play from here on out is currently ahead of them in the standings.
"We have a very tough second half of the season, but I think that that's a good thing for us," said assistant coach Jenesica Drinkwater. "I'd rather have it this way than have the weaker-end teams, and you end up losing a couple of those games that you shouldn't have. I think that every single game, we go into with a focus [that] these are all playoff games, and we've got to win these games because they're huge points for us to get that playoff spot."
Coming Up Next
- Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Toronto Furies -- January 20 at 2:00 PM Eastern at Progressive Auto Sales Arena (Sarnia, Ontario); January 21 at 1:00 PM Eastern at MasterCard Centre - Rink 1
- Kunlun Red Star vs. Markham Thunder -- January 20 at 7:30 PM Eastern at Thornhill Community Centre
- Vanke Rays vs. Calgary Inferno -- January 20 at 6:30 PM Mountain at WinSport Arena A; January 21 at 12:30 PM Mountain at WinSport B Joan Snyder
(Photo credit: Jess Bazal/CWHL)