Battle of the GTA Starts with Split

Photos by Teri Di-Lauro

Game Day Sponsor and Thunder supporters Apple Creek Sports Medicine drop the puck

Game One

The game began with Liz Knox and Elaine Chuli tending to their respective nets. Knox got in on the action early as she passed up the ice to Laura Fortino, who passed it to Jamie Lee Rattray. Rattray took the puck around a couple of Furies stumbled, but recovered and shot it past Chuli to open the scoring!

Nicole Brown, Ella Matteucci and Victoria Bach continued to put on the pressure until Bach was called for roughing. Just over half-way through the penalty kill, Emily Fulton was sent off for the Furies, giving fans some 4-on-4 play that saw Fortino and Brooke Webster break down the ice, but Chuli was able to answer. Once Bach had left the box, Megan Bozek gave the puck to Jess Jones on the half boards, who sent the puck back up to the defender. Bozek took a shot from the blue line, and Kristen Richards sent the rebound past Chuli’s glove side to give Markham a 2-0 lead.

Toronto was able to capitalize on a power play when Kristen Barbara was in the box for body checking, with Natalie Spooner scoring assisted by Anissa Gamble and Sarah Nurse. The period ended with Markham up 2-1.

The second frame opened with north-south play that continued until Julia Fedeski received a minor and misconduct for boarding. The Thunder were unable to capitalize on the advantage and Toronto dictated play for a stretch of time, until the final two minutes of the period. Jones took the puck into the offensive zone, passed it to the slot when Brown tipped it over to Bach who slid it into the net. Less than a minute later, Brown and Bach moved the puck back up ice, dropped it for Fortino who moved in an took a blast that deflected in putting Markham up 4-1.

The third period started off with Richards headed to the box for holding. Sarah Nurse would get a goal back for the Furies with the helper going to Renata Fast. Laura Stacey and Jenna McParland had a good chance on Chuli, but Taylor Woods was called for body checking a couple minutes later. Luckily for the Thunder, Toronto’s Fast was called for tripping 12 seconds into their power play, sending the game into 4-on-4 again. Just after Toronto returned to even-strength, Sena Suzuki sent the puck out of play and put the Furies back on the penalty kill. Jocelyne Larocque and Barbara worked on passing the puck around the offensive zone. Barbara pinched down low and passed the puck to Laura Stacey who had moved into the slot. She made no mistake and widened the Thunder’s lead to 5-2, sealing the win for the home team.

Laura Stacey stands on the blue line with Oakville Hornets players

Game Two

Erica Howe and Shea Tiley were called upon in goal for the Sunday matchup in Oakville. Howe began the game by making a string of good saves. Just over five minutes in, Jones and Brittany Howard received coincidentals for roughing, but Howard was dealt an extra minor for cross-checking. A little over a minute later, Richards was sent to the box for hooking. After the four-on-four came to an end, Toronto was on the power play and Mackenzie MacNeil scored to give the Furies the lead. Three minutes later, Spooner launched a rocket of a shot high on Howe to make it 2-0 for Toronto. Less than a minute later, Barbara and Woods battled to get the puck along the boards in the defensive zone, pushing it up to Kelly Gribbons who went streaking down the ice on a two-on-one with Becca King. Gribbons would carry it all the way and put it bar down on Tiley for her first goal in the CWHL.

Larocque took a body checking penalty, and Fulton would take the same call sending us to more four-on-four play for 45 seconds. When both team were back at even strength and the period was winding down, Howe had some help from the post to keep Markham within one.

The second frame began with Howe making another great save, this time after the puck popped high and tracked it as if fell back down into the crease. Matteucci went to the box for roughing, but less than a minute later Stacey and Fulton got involved. Both received roughing minors and misconducts. Markham ended up on the power play when Fedeski was called for cross-checking. Still looking to tie the game, the Thunder kept pressuring until Barbara was cited for tripping. After killing off the penalty, Bach took the puck into the slot and shot it hard to the net, beating Tiley glove side with assists going to Jones and Brown.

The second period was rounded out by two more penalties. First Suzuki gave the Thunder the advantage for cross-checking. Next Brooke Webster sat for roughing, but the Furies would not score and the teams went into the intermission tied.

Yet again, the period began with a penalty. This time it was Stacey who was called for body checking. Howe made a great save as the penalty came to an end, and Gamble gave Markham the advantage after taking an interference penalty. The Thunder did not fare well on this power play as Nurse got the puck behind Larocque and broke away scoring short-handed to take the lead back for the Furies. Rattray missed the missed the net with Tiley out of position, then Matteucci made a great play against Howard as she tried to get another for the Furies. Bach and Jones went streaking and almost connected for a tip, and Bozek followed that up with a great defensive play on Nurse. The Thunder ended up back on the power play when Jess Vella was called for body contact, and then a delay of game penalty was called on Mellissa Channell and we had a 5-on-3 for 44 seconds. Jim Jackson called for a time-out to strategize, and it paid off. Fortino and Rattray went to battle for the puck along the boards, leaving Bach open in the high slot. When she received the puck, she made no mistake sending it bar down to tie the game!

With Channell still in the box, Fast went off for a boarding minor and misconduct, giving another short chance at a 5-on-3. Unable to capitalize, Howe made some good positional saves to keep the game on track for Markham. Within the final minute, Richards was cited for tripping and the Thunder would be back on the penalty kill. Before the buzzer, Howe made a stellar save with her toe and we went to overtime. After an extended break between the periods – the clock had accidentally counted down on Richard’s penalty during the break – Fortino, Larocque and Stacey were sent out to start the extra time. Channell and Spooner would connect with Nurse to win in within the first minute for the Furies.