Kirsten Whelan

CWHL Weekend Wrap

After the Toronto Furies topped the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays Wednesday in game three of their series (which began last weekend), week two of CWHL play was a series of sweeps. Les Canadiennes de Montréal and the Calgary Inferno topped the Markham Thunder and Shenzhen, respectively, on home ice, while the Furies had a pair of road wins over the Worcester Blades.

Around the League

  • Five players scored their first CWHL goal this week: Sarah Nurse, Geneviève Bannon, Tori Hickel, Venla Hovi, and Halli Krzyzaniak.
  • The Markham Thunder will be holding an outreach game on Thursday, celebrating 20 years of girls hockey in Ancaster, Ontario.
  • The Toronto Furies are holding an adult rec hockey promotion on Saturday, with reduced admission and free beer for anyone wearing their beer league jersey.

Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays vs. Toronto Furies

Shenzhen got into penalty trouble early on Wednesday, giving up a pair that turned into a brief 5-on-3. With the first infraction expired and the Furies still on the power play, Julie Allen tipped a shot past Shenzhen netminder Kimberly Newell to put Toronto up 1-0.

Despite two more opening-period penalties and three minors plus a misconduct against the Furies in the second, the score stayed the same until the final frame.

Hannah Miller evened things up in the dying seconds of a power play at 3:17 of the third, but Sarah Nurse netted her first career CWHL goal, also on the power play, five minutes later to put Toronto back on top. Carolyne Prevost added an insurance marker with just under eight minutes to go, for a 3-1 final score.

"It was our first full weekend together playing, and we kind of expected that there was going to need to be a few tweaks," explained Toronto head coach Courtney Kessel of the turnaround. "I just think we really came together after the weekend heading into Wednesday. And from our Saturday game to our Wednesday game, I think we were totally different team."

The Furies were 2-for-7 on the power play and killed five of six penalties.

Shea Tiley turned away 28 of 29 shots for her first CWHL win, while Newell made 11 saves on 14 chances.

Toronto Furies vs. Worcester Blades

The Blades opened their new home venue with a tight game against Toronto on Saturday. It was a quick turnaround for the Furies, who left Wednesday's midweek game around midnight and travelled to Worcester on Saturday morning.

Natalie Spooner got the game's first goal, at 13:58 of the first period.

It stayed 1-0 for another half-hour of play before Casey Stathopoulos tied it at 5:19 of the third, tossing the puck through Elaine Chuli's five-hole from the slot. The even scoreline only lasted seven minutes, though, before Nurse forced a turnover and passed it to Spooner, who steered the puck around goaltender Mariah Fujimagari and into the net for a 2-1 regulation win.

"We came together a bit this weekend," said Kessel of the road trip. "Just being away from the rink and being together, that's nice. We're a team that's going to work hard, and we're going to hope to bring our game, but if not, we're definitely going to get pucks deep and battle it out."

Furies defender Jordan Hampton -- who played last year for Boston -- sustained a broken wrist towards the end of the game.

Both teams were perfect on the penalty kill, with Toronto killing four and the Blades neutralizing five.

Chuli made 28 saves on 29 shots for the Furies, while Fujimagari stopped 39 of 41 chances. (The box score says the Blades outshot Toronto, but word on the ground -- and in Worcester's own recap -- suggests that the shot totals in the box score are reversed. That's not the only problem with it, either, so hopefully the statistics will improve going forward and be corrected in the future.)

The Furies wasted no time on Sunday, with Shiann Darkangelo putting her team ahead just 1:46 into the game, assisted by Brittany Howard. Darkangelo added another at 13:58 to make it 2-0 after one.

Lauren Dahm replaced starting goaltender Jessica Convery to start the second, and it was a goaltending battle between her and Amanda Makela for the next 40 minutes -- culminating in a 2-0 Furies win.

The Blades killed off two penalties and Toronto negated three.

Makela was credited with 33 saves in the shut-out. Convery stopped nine of 11 pucks through 20 minutes, while Dahm was perfect with 16 saves in relief.

Markham Thunder vs. Les Canadiennes de Montréal

Many weren't sure what to expect from this rematch, with a reinforced Montreal side looking to avenge last year's playoff elimination to the eventual Clarkson Cup champions, but Les Canadiennes didn't leave anyone wondering.

"There was a lot of time between that game and this game, so it was important for us to come out strong," said goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. "I know we have a pretty new group, but I think they understood that it's important to win these games."

Hilary Knight opened the scoring midway through the first period with her first goal as a member of Les Canadiennes.

Mélodie Daoust flipped in a rebound at 3:56 of the second, and Jill Saulnier made it 3-0 just 31 seconds later. Jenna McParland got one back for Markham a minute after that, tapping in a pass from Nicole Brown. Geneviève Bannon, entering the line-up for her CWHL debut, restored Montreal's three-goal lead at 17:14.

Les Canadiennes started the third period on the power play, and Saulnier beat Erica Howe on a high shot from the slot two seconds before it expired to bring the score to 5-1.

"We did well in all facets of the game," said Montreal head coach Dany Brunet. "We worked a lot this week on offence and generating more offense, driving the net and having traffic in front. I think of our five goals, four were rebounds -- just Saulnier's was a direct shot -- so it's nice to see that the girls got the message, tried it, and that it worked."

Thunder rookie Victoria Bach had a number of dangerous chances throughout the game, but Maschmeyer (and her crossbar) were able to keep her at bay.

The 24-year-old netminder turned away 19 of 20 shots in the win, while Howe saved 31 of 36.

Sunday's match was more of the same. Partway through the first period, Saulnier collected a pass from Knight in Montreal's own zone, then sped all the way up the ice and scored on a sharp angle after narrowly out-maneuvering her defender. (This goal would top any highlight reel if only there was video evidence.)

Much like on Saturday, Les Canadiennes jumped ahead early in the second period. Ann-Sophie Bettez tapped in a pass from Marie-Philip Poulin at 1:25, and five minutes later Daoust tipped in a point shot from Erin Ambrose, ending a power play just 15 seconds after it began. Jamie Lee Rattray put the Thunder on the board at 13:06 off a pass from Jess Jones, making it 3-1, but the momentum quickly turned. With Kim Deschênes in the box, Saulnier picked up a loose puck deep in her end and rushed it up the ice, this time accompanied by Bettez, who buried the pass for a shorthanded goal.

"I love getting breakaways, and Jill is another quick skater," Bettez said. "With the two of us and our speed together on the PK, we'll be able to show it off this year. It's rewarding to score on a 4-on-5 -- it hurts them even worse."

Less than two minutes later, Daoust made quick work of another power-play opportunity, knocking in a rebound to make it 5-1 at 15:50.

Jones and Sarah Lefort were both sent to the box at the beginning of the third after throwing fists in each other's general direction just 35 seconds into the period, but the four-on-four was mostly uneventful. Deschênes buried a rebound halfway through the frame, and Lefort flipped the puck into the net in the very last second of a power play to make it 7-1 with 1:20 left.

Montreal was 3-for-6 with the extra skater and killed two penalties while picking up a shorty.

Les Canadiennes were playing fast, well-connected hockey all weekend, with tape-to-tape passes and creative offense. Mélodie Daoust summed up their style neatly: "It's pretty to see, it's fun to watch."

Maschmeyer was called upon for 17 saves on 18 shots, and Howe stopped 31 of 38.

Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays vs. Calgary Inferno

After the Inferno killed off the only two penalties of a goalless first period, Brianna Decker opened Saturday's scoring for Calgary on a breakaway at 4:14 of the second period, set up by Kacey Bellamy and Zoe Hickel.

Brianne Jenner was awarded a penalty shot midway through the frame after she was taken down on a breakaway of her own, but Noora Räty made a high stick save to keep the score 1-0 until Tori Hickel doubled the advantage on the power play with 1:21 left in the second, assisted by her sister Zoe and Aina Mizukami.

Shenzhen's comeback effort was thwarted by a pair of late penalties in the third, and the Inferno hung on for the 2-0 win.

"In game one on that Olympic sheet, we still controlled the puck for the majority of the game -- we played a strong possession game -- but we were not effectively attacking lanes that we would open up," noted Calgary head coach Shannon Miller.

The Inferno were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed all four penalties taken.

Alex Rigsby made 26 saves to earn her first CWHL shut-out, while Räty stopped 30 of 32 shots.

The Inferno proved their offensive prowess on Sunday, managing to chase Räty from the crease.

"It was just doing more of what we've been working on in practice every day," Miller said. "And then adjusting from going from an NHL ice sheet -- which is what we practice on all the time and what we played on against Montreal -- to really opening up the game and using the ice and using everybody, and that's how we will be playing our best hockey."

Mizukami got things started halfway through the first period, in which Calgary outshot its guests 16-6.

Rebecca Johnston kept the momentum going with a goal just 1:37 into the second period. Johnston, a natural winger, has taken on a more defensive role than usual in Calgary's system.

"She's a very good player, and she told me she wants to become a better player -- a more complete player," Miller explained. "She now has incredible responsibility, because she has to be very good defensively and very good offensively, and that's how she's going to become a better player."

Hanna Bunton got one back for the Rays at 17:45, but Venla Hovi responded 71 seconds later to restore the two-goal lead.

Halli Krzyzaniak widened the gap at 7:57 of the third and Jenner and Decker added a goal apiece within five minutes, pushing Shenzhen to replace Räty with Newell in the 6-1 game.

"That's your goal," said Miller of the wide array of scorers. "You want to play the depth of your bench as often as you can, and then you want everyone to be able to contribute, whether it's 5-on-5, 4-on-4, power play, PK. We played a fairly complete game and the bench got to play, and that's why I'm happy. I almost see that as a starting point for our season."

Both teams were perfect on the penalty kill, with Calgary negating three and the Rays killing off two.

Rigsby stopped 19 of 20 shots. Räty allowed six goals on 38 shots through 52:43 before being relieved by Newell, who made five saves to close out the contest.

Inferno defender Katelyn Gosling, who was injured in game two against Montreal last week, missed both games against Shenzhen but was able to return to practice on Tuesday.

Coming Up Next

  • Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays vs. Markham Thunder -- October 25 at 7:30 PM Eastern at Morgan Firestone Arena (Ancaster, Ontario); October 27 at 7:30 PM Eastern at Thornhill Community Centre
  • Calgary Inferno vs. Worcester Blades -- October 27 at 6:00 PM Eastern at Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center; October 28 at 12:30 PM Eastern at Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center
  • Les Canadiennes de Montréal vs. Toronto Furies -- October 27 at 6:00 PM Eastern at Mastercard Centre - Rink 1 (streamed); October 28 at 1:00 PM Eastern at Mastercard Centre - Rink 1

(Photo credit: Dave Holland/CWHL)

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