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.
In the first games back since the two-week Olympic break, Calgary swept Boston (though not without a scare), Markham defeated Toronto, and Les Canadiennes split with Vanke. Montreal also fell in a shoot-out in its first of two matches against Kunlun. The pair will meet again on Friday to wrap up their season series.
Les Canadiennes remain in first place, followed by Calgary and Kunlun. Markham and Vanke remain tied with 27 points in the fight for fourth, though the Thunder hold a game in hand.
Around the League
- The Calgary Inferno held their annual You Can Play game on February 24.
- The Markham Thunder raised $5120 in their annual Do It For Daron game, with proceeds going to support youth mental health research and education initiatives led by The Royal.
- Noémie Marin scored her 131st CWHL goal on February 25, tying her with teammate Caroline Ouellette for the all-time lead.
- Markham announced that Canadian Olympic defender Jocelyne Larocque will rejoin the team and make her season debut on March 3 against Calgary.
- Vanke is out of the race for home-ice advantage in the postseason, but Kunlun isn't. If the Red Star finish in the top two, they're expected to play their semifinal series out of a neutral-site rink in the Greater Toronto Area.
Boston Blades vs. Calgary Inferno
Boston defender Sato Kikuchi opened the scoring on Saturday with her first CWHL goal, just 2:54 in. Kayla Gardner tied things up for the Inferno at 7:03, but Meghan Grieves restored the Blades' lead 55 seconds after that. Hayleigh Cudmore then scored for Calgary just past the midway point to send the teams into the intermission tied 2-2.
The Inferno thought they'd broken the deadlock midway through the frame, but the goal was waved off. Brittany Esposito then scored on a power play in the dying minutes of the second period, and rookie Taryn Baumgardt made it 4-2 on her first career goal, with under a second left in the frame.
Kelty Apperson tallied a power-play marker at 16:24 of the third, and Kennedy Brown's goal with 1:43 remaining made it 6-2 for the hosts.
Calgary was 2-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Delayne Brian made 20 saves on 22 shots for the win, while Lauren Dahm allowed six goals on 51 chances.
On Sunday, the Blades held a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes despite being outshot 28-11 in that time before Calgary scored four uninterrupted in the third period to claim the regulation win.
The first period saw a little bit of everything. Melissa Bizzari got Boston on the board shorthanded at 6:16 when a clearing attempt from her own defensive slot travelled the length of the ice and trickled through Lindsey Post's five-hole. Brian immediately came in to replace Post, but the Blades doubled their advantage with a power-play goal by Kate Leary at the midway mark and nearly made it 3-0 when Leary was awarded a penalty shot at 14:35, which Brian steered wide. Calgary then thought they'd gotten on the board mere seconds later, but the goal was waved off for coming from a high stick.
Grieves scored the only goal of the second at 15:18, giving Boston a 3-0 lead.
The Inferno came back with a vengeance in the third, outshooting their guests 15-1 to claim the win.
Sophie Shirley got things started with a power-play goal at 7:31, and Brittney Fouracres narrowed the gap to one just past the halfway point of the period. Esposito tied things up on the power play at 15:21, and Katelyn Gosling rounded out the comeback with just 46 seconds left in the game.
Calgary was 2-for-5 with the extra skater and killed off one of two penalties.
Brian stopped eight of 10 shots through 53:44 in relief of Post, who allowed one goal on two shots in 6:16. Amanda Carridi made 39 saves on 43 shots in her first start of the season.
Toronto Furies vs. Markham Thunder
The GTA teams played just one game this weekend to round out their season series, which Markham took 4-1.
Jamie Lee Rattray got the Thunder started early with a goal just 80 seconds into the game. Jenna Dingeldein tied things up on the power play at 9:52, sending the teams into the intermission at 1-1.
Nicole Brown restored Markham's lead with a power-play marker at 7:04 of the second. Devon Skeats doubled the advantage at 16:58, but Carolyne Prevost got one back for the Furies 33 seconds later.
Brown tallied her second of the evening midway through the third on a power play, and Jenna McParland added another at 12:57 for a 5-2 final score.
The Thunder were 2-for-6 on the power play while Toronto went 1-for-6.
Erica Howe turned away 20 of 22 pucks for the win. Amanda Makela allowed five goals on 28 shots in defeat.
Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Vanke Rays
Montreal and Vanke split their series in Shenzhen, though Les Canadiennes claimed the season series 4-1.
"First and foremost, we're going to China to play hockey and that's the priority," said Les Canadiennes head coach Dany Brunet ahead of the trip. "It's important to have a good mindset of what we're doing there. So playing hockey is the priority, and after that if we can do different activities -- since it's a life experience for the players -- that will be secondary. But the message we're sending to the players is that we're going there to play hockey."
Tracy-Ann Lavigne opened the scoring for the visitors at 17:53 of the first period, but Brooke Webster replied just 26 seconds later to even things up.
Noémie Marin then restored Montreal's lead with her 131st career goal, at 18:03 of the second.
Cayley Mercer tied the game unassisted at 6:03 of the third, and Fang Xin netted the game-winner at 15:19.
The Rays were 0-for-3 on the power play and killed both penalties taken.
Elaine Chuli stopped 22 of 24 shots for Vanke, while Emerance Maschmeyer made 19 saves on 22 chances for Les Canadiennes.
Montreal was joined by defender Erin Ambrose for Monday's game, which it took 2-0.
Ann-Sophie Bettez opened the scoring with just nine seconds left in the first period, and Katia Clément-Heydra doubled the lead midway through the second.
Les Canadiennes were 0-for-3 with the extra skater and killed off five penalties.
Maschmeyer made 17 saves to earn her fifth shut-out of the year. Chuli stopped 30 of 32 shots in 57:54.
Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Kunlun Red Star
Montreal outshot Kunlun 31-24 in Wednesday's game but the Red Star came away with a 2-1 shootout win.
Zoe Hickel netted a power-play marker at 8:31 of the first to open the scoring, and Sarah Lefort replied at 16:38 to send the teams into the intermission tied.
Jessica Wong restored Kunlun's lead just under four minutes into the second, but Lefort evened the score at 10:14 and made it a hat trick 91 seconds after that, putting Les Canadiennes up 3-2.
Stephanie Anderson's power-play tally at 16:09 of the third pushed the teams to overtime and, when five minutes of extra play couldn't determine a winner, a shoot-out.
Noora Räty stoned all three Montreal shooters, while Kelli Stack scored the only goal of the session.
Kunlun was 2-for-8 on the power play and perfect on seven penalty kills.
Räty saved 28 of 31 shots in her return from the Olympics, while Maschmeyer stopped 20 of 23.
Coming Up Next
- Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Kunlun Red Star -- March 2 at 7:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center
- Boston Blades vs. Toronto Furies -- March 3 at 7:00 PM Eastern at MasterCard Centre - Rink 1; March 4 at 12:30 PM Mountain at WinSport Arena A
- Calgary Inferno vs. Markham Thunder -- March 3 at 7:30 PM Eastern at Thornhill Community Centre; March 4 at 12:30 PM Eastern at Thornhill Community Centre
- Vanke Rays vs. Kunlun Red Star -- March 4 at 2:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center; February 26 at 7:30 PM China Standard at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center
(Photo credit: Dave Holland/CWHL)
Filed under: boston blades; calgary inferno; Toronto Furies; markham thunder; les canadiennes de montreal; vanke rays; kunlun red star; cwhl; ice hockey; dany brunet
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