The National Women's Hockey League continues its offseason with numerous player signings, its first international draft and several front office moves. In case you've missed anything over the last few weeks, let's take a look at what's happened in the league.
This week, Calgary put an end to both Shenzhen's home-ice advantage and Kunlun's 15-game winning streak, Boston earned a point against Montreal, and Markham shut down Toronto's short-lived win streak, which ended the Furies' playoff hopes.
Les Canadiennes remain in first place, followed by Kunlun and Calgary. Markham and Vanke are tied with 25 points after 23 games in the battle for the fourth and final postseason berth.
Around the League
- The Boston Blades held their You Can Play game on February 3.
- The Toronto Furies are officially out of the playoff race after their loss to Markham on Sunday.
- Caroline Ouellette scored her league-record 131st CWHL goal on February 4.
- Toronto's Emily Fulton was named the Player of the Month for January.
Kunlun Red Star vs. Boston Blades
The Red Star won both games last weekend and took Thursday's as well to sweep the season series.
With Kunlun's Noora Räty off to Pyeongchang for the Olympics, Wang Yuqing got the start in net.
Boston got on the board first with a power play goal from Kate Leary midway through the opening period. Kelli Stack then tied things up 1:16 before the intermission.
Dru Burns restored the Blades' lead halfway through the second, but a late goal by Shiann Darkangelo sent the teams into the third knotted at 2-2.
Liu Zhixin and Rachel Llanes tallied for the Red Star within the final five minutes of play to secure the win.
Boston was 1-for-2 on the power play and, notably, managed to hold off all four of Kunlun's chances with the extra attacker.
Wang made 20 saves on 22 shots, while Lauren Dahm stopped 53 of 57 pucks faced.
Calgary Inferno vs. Vanke Rays
No North American team had won in Shenzhen before Calgary got there, but the Inferno quickly put an end to Vanke's home-ice unbeaten streak with a 6-2 win on Saturday.
"How's that for scheduling?" said Rays head coach Rob Morgan, whose squad lost to Calgary and Montreal on the road before returning to play those same teams at home. "How does that happen? You should play a team at the front end, first half of the season, and [then in the] second half of the season. I still don't understand why that happened. But with that being said, they're fresh in our mind, the losses sting, and we'll be that much more prepared to play them at home."
Katelyn Gosling opened the scoring at 4:53 of the first and Jacquie Pierri doubled the advantage at the midway point of the period.
Brittany Esposito made it 3-0 at 7:02 of the second. Zhao Qinan narrowed the gap to two at 9:10, and Louise Warren restored the Inferno's three-goal lead with a shorthanded tally at 16:08.
Emma Woods scored a power-play marker for Vanke at 7:14 of the third, but Kayla Gardner sealed Calgary's win with 3:08 remaining.
The Rays were 1-for-2 on the power play but gave up a shorty, and went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Delayne Brian made 17 saves on 19 shots, while Elaine Chuli allowed six goals on 29 shots for Vanke.
Erica Kromm got things started for Calgary on Sunday, at 5:47 of the first, and Ashleigh Brykaliuk tied things up with a power-play goal in the second.
Kromm put the Inferno ahead again at 5:02 of the third, but another power-play marker not three minutes later (this time by Hanna Bunton) sent the teams to overtime.
The extra period solved nothing, which led to a shoot-out.
Brooke Webster and Cayley Mercer scored for Vanke, while Esposito was Calgary's lone scorer. Vanke skated off with the 3-2 win.
The Rays were 2-for-6 on the power play and killed off three penalties.
Chuli turned away 25 of 27 shots through 65 minutes. Lindsey Post made 32 saves on 34 chances in defeat.
Toronto Furies vs. Markham Thunder
Toronto played on national television for the second week in a row on Saturday, but couldn't pull off another upset.
Brittany Zuback gave the Furies a 1-0 lead after the first period, but it proved to be their last.
Alexis Woloschuk tied things up in the second with her first CWHL goal, before Jenna McParland and Kristen Richards scored two minutes apart to give the Thunder a 3-1 lead after two.
Jamie Lee Rattray added another just 1:28 into the third. Ellie Seedhouse followed it up with her first career goal at the midway point and Megan Bozek scored her first as a member of the Thunder with a power-play marker at 13:47. Emily Fulton added one more for Toronto at 16:42, making for a 6-2 final score.
Markham was 1-for-4 on the power play and the Furies went 1-for-2.
Erica Howe stopped 16 of 18 shots for the Thunder, while Amanda Makela allowed six goals on 33 chances for Toronto.
Markham jumped to a 2-0 lead after one on Sunday with power-play goals from Richards and Nicole Brown.
McParland added to the lead at 2:04 of the third. Hayley Williams scored two minutes later for Toronto to make it 3-1, but Richards tallied her second two minutes after that. Michelle Saunders once again narrowed the gap at 17:02, but Dania Simmonds sealed the game at 5-2 with an empty-netter in the last second of play.
The Thunder were 2-for-7 on the power play and were perfect on four penalty kills.
Liz Knox turned away 21 of 23 pucks in the win, while Makela made 36 saves on 40 chances.
Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Boston Blades
Boston didn't wrap up its Kunlun series until Thursday, but still managed to take league-leading Montreal to a shoot-out on Saturday.
Melissa Bizzari scored just 34 seconds into the game, then added a power-play marker at 3:26 to put the Blades ahead 2-0 after one.
Ann-Sophie Bettez narrowed the gap with a power-play goal 56 seconds into the second, but Kate Leary scored with the player advantage at 12:29 of the period.
Sarah Lefort scored less than two minutes after that, making it 3-2 after two. Lefort added another to tie it just 36 seconds into the third, but Taylor Wasylk restored Boston's lead. Lefort then completed her hat trick at 11:25 to force overtime.
After a scoreless extra period, the teams proceeded to a shoot-out.
Katia Clément-Heydra and Lefort tallied for Montreal, while Emerance Maschmeyer stoned both Blades shooters.
Les Canadiennes were 1-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-7 on the kill.
Maschmeyer stopped 17 of 21 shots through 65 minutes of play. Dahm turned away 48 of 52 pucks.
Montreal came out quickly on Sunday to eventually finish with a 6-0 final score.
Bettez opened the scoring at 3:25 of the first, followed by Noémie Marin. Caroline Ouellette then netted her first of the season at 14:30, giving her a much-awaited 131st career goal and sole possession of the CWHL's all-time scoring record.
Bettez got her second at 15:35 of the middle frame.
Lefort and Clément-Heydra rounded out the scoring in the third period.
Montreal was 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Marie-Soleil Deschênes earned a 15-save shutout in her first CWHL appearance. Dahm stopped 21 of 25 shots through two periods before being replaced by Amanda Carridi, who made 11 saves on 13 shots in relief.
Calgary Inferno vs. Kunlun Red Star
The Inferno broke the Red Star's winning streak with a shoot-out victory on Wednesday.
Zoe Hickel opened the scoring for Kunlun just 29 seconds into the game.
Esposito tied it for Calgary with a power-play goal at 7:26 of the second, then tallied another power-play marker less than two minutes later to take the lead.
A power-play goal from Jessica Wong with 2:23 remaining in regulation forced overtime, and after five minutes of 4-on-4 play, the game ended in a shoot-out.
Esposito and Laura Dostaler scored for the Inferno, while Stack netted Kunlun's lone goal.
Calgary was 1-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the kill.
Delayne Brian turned away 17 of 19 shots and Wang saved 16 of 18 in the loss.
The Inferno made it a sweep on Friday with a 3-2 regulation victory.
Hickel opened the scoring for Kunlun midway through the first period, and Gosling tied things up before the intermission.
Sophie Shirley gave Calgary the lead at 12:23 of the second, but Stephanie Anderson struck 1:01 later. A power-play goal by Dakota Woodworth just 1:23 after that proved to be the game winner as both goalies stood tall in the third.
The Inferno were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off all five penalties.
Post made 27 saves on 29 shots for the visitors, while Wang turned away 21 of 24 chances.
Coming Up Next
The CWHL's Olympic break runs from February 10 through February 23. During that time, the Chinese Ice Hockey Association, in conjunction with Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays, is hosting an evaluation camp in Shenzhen for Chinese players who are not currently on the CWHL teams and who are eligible to represent China at the Division IB World Championship in April.
- Boston Blades vs. Calgary Inferno -- February 24 at 5:00 PM Mountain at WinSport Arena A; February 25 at 12:30 PM Mountain at WinSport Arena A
- Toronto Furies vs. Markham Thunder -- February 24 at 7:30 PM Eastern at Thornhill Community Centre
- Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Vanke Rays -- February 25 at 2:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center; February 26 at 7:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center
- Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Kunlun Red Star -- February 28 at 7:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center; March 2 at 7:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center
(Photo credit: Visual China/CWHL)
Filed under: ice hockey; cwhl; boston blades; kunlun red star; Toronto Furies; markham thunder; les canadiennes de montreal; calgary inferno; vanke rays; rob morgan
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