Comeback Win To Kick Off 2018

The first game of 2018 was a rollercoaster ride. Luckily, the Thunder were smiling at the end!


With a special Equipment Drive set up by Fielding Montgomery to benefit the Walpole Island First Nations community, Thunder Nation won the evening with an amazing showing of support with their donations! Our sincerest thanks to everyone who donated equipment or money to the Drive!

Erica Howe got the call for Markham, with Elaine Chuli answering for Vanke. There was a lot of excitement on the bench as Nicole Kosta and Jenna McParland both returned to the lineup. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the Rays started the game with a burst of energy taking a 2-0 lead off the stick of Cayley Mercer with only three minutes played. The first goal was assisted by Emma Woods, and the second by Brooke Webster and Hanna Bunton. Just past the five minute marker, Becca King was sent off for hooking. On the penalty kill, Jamie Lee Rattray skated the puck into the Vanke zone, but a defender got back in time to keep her from getting a clean shot. Xin Fang and Emily Janiga worked to get the puck to Minghui Kong who slipped the puck past Howe. The power play goal gave the visitors a 3-0 lead with less than seven minutes played. Thunder head coach Jim Jackson called for a timeout. The skaters received instructions, while Howe spoke with Liz Knox who was backing her up. Whatever was said, the Thunder flipped a switch, and began their push back. Markham was getting solid chances in Chuli, but she was tracking the puck the whole way. Kristen Barbara was called for a head check, receiving a two minute minor, served by Nicole Brown, and a ten minute major. The penalty kill unit was only out for just over a minute when the Rays negated their advantage with a too many skaters bench minor. During the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Lindsay Grigg took the puck deep into the offensive zone, passing it back to her d-partner Taylor Woods. Woods took a soaring shot from the blue line, but Chuli made the glove save. On the next shift, Dania Simmonds also pressured with a shot for the point as Brown returned to the ice and the Thunder gained the power play advantage. Markham continued to cycle, with the best chance coming off Woods’ stick at the end of the power play. Back at even strength, Kosta broke into the Rays’ zone and dishes the puck to Devon Skeats who came flying in on the net and directed the puck into the net! With the lead cut to 3-1, play continued to back between both ends to end the period.

Within the first minute of the second frame, Bunton was called for hooking and the Thunder went to work on the power play. Markham worked hard in the offensive zone, with Rattray just missing the net. Barbara returned to the action, and the teams continued to trade chances. Howe was making great stops, keeping her team poised to come back. The Thunder’s offence was buzzing – Kristen Richards connected with Laura McIntosh just as Vanke’s net came off its moorings, then Rattray broke into the zone, but she caught an edge. The pressure continued as Markham returned to the power play when Kong went off for a hook. The Thunder continued to pepper Chuli with shots, but nothing went in the net. Shortly after Kong returned to the play, Jessica Hartwick went to the box for interference. Howe and the penalty killers were up to the task, we returned to 5-on-5. Rattray once again came close to bringing Markham within one, but Chuli covered the rebound. Barbara was called for body checking, and the Thunder returned to the kill. Simmonds joined her in the box for cross-checking, and Vanke had 56 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. Howe made key saves as her teammates returned to even strength as the period drew to a close.

The Thunder came out flying in the third, hungry to continue to press the Rays. A few minutes in, King got the puck up to Woods at the blue line, who let go a tremendous shot that whizzed past Chuli, popping the water bottle off the net and sending the cap (and water) flying – the Thunder were now within one goal of tying the game! Vanke countered with a strong push in the Thunder’s zone, but Howe had all angles covered. Rose Alleva went to the Rays’ penalty box for a hook, and Vanke took a lapse in coverage and Ashleigh Brykaliuk scored short handed. With half of the period still left to play, Markham continued to put pucks towards the Rays’ net. With the clock winding down, King dished the puck to Rattray, who slid it over to Richards. She redirected the puck past the Vanke goaltender, returning the Thunder within one goal of tying the game. The coaches decided to pull Howe for the extra attacker with over two minutes still on the clock. The risky move paid off as Brown and Barbara were able to find McIntosh out in front of the net to tie the game with 1:33 remaining! Regulation was not enough, and we headed to overtime!

The extra time was all Thunder. Barbara kicked things off with a great shot on Chuli, then Rattray had a break away where she narrowly missed the net. Xin was called for body checking, and Markham got the 4-on-3 advantage. More scoring chances followed, and Rattray hit a post just as time expired.

Woods was sent over the boards to take the first round of the shootout for Markham. Once again, she snuck the puck past Chuli after pulling her to one side of the net, then pulling a deke and lobbing the puck over the outstretched pad.

Jess Bazal

Mercer was first for Vanke. She tried to pull Howe out of the net and tuck the puck behind her, but Howe was up to the challenge, stopping the attempt.

Jess Bazal

McIntosh was second for the Thunder. She skated hard to the net, and put the puck through Chuli’s legs.

Jess Bazal

Vanke countered with Brykaliuk, but Howe denied her, winning the game for Markham!