Inferno Caught In Thunderstorm

All photos credit to Jess Ritchotte

It was a weekend full of special moments, but the most important was picking up two regulation wins to put Markham in the best position to clinch the final playoff spot.

Game One

The Thunder welcomed back their captain to the lineup as Jocelyne Larocque suited up in Markham green for the first time after returning from PyeongChang. On the ice, Markham also welcomed home Laura Stacey and Laura Fortino with the help of sponsor KEWL Sports. The Inferno’s Brianne Jenner and Blayre Turnbull also returned to CWHL action, making it three 2018 silver medalists on the ice, and two more in the stands.

The first minutes of the game were fast paced – north and south play gave both teams chances and gave goalies Erica Howe and Lindsay Post early tests. The Thunder pressed in the offensive zone – Nicole Brown took a shot that trickled just wide, then Larocque took a hard one from the point, but it was Jenna McParland who would find the back of the net after reviving a pass from Nicole Kosta to open the scoring.

Kristen Richards would take a penalty for body checking, but the penalty kill unit and Howe kept the Inferno at bay. With Richards back on the ice, Brown streaked down the ice, took a shot, and the rebound popped off Post’s pad right to Richards who put it in the net.

Markham would head to the locker room up 2-0.

The second period opened up with more physical play as Alexis Woloschuk was cited for cross checking, but the penalty kill was short lived as Calgary’s Sophie Shirley was sent off for interference. Just as Shirley was set to return to the ice, Iya Gavrilova sat for a slash. Unfortunately for the Thunder, they could not convert on the advantage. Not long after, Devon Skeats followed on the trail to the penalty box for a high stick. The Inferno’s power play went to work – Dakota Woodworth and Jenner got the puck to Katelyn Gosling who put it behind Howe to cut Markham’s lead to 2-1. As the period drew to a close, Megan Bozek was caught roughing, putting the Thunder back on the penalty kill.

The final 20 minutes started with finishing the penalty kill, then just before five minutes of play was completed, the McParland – Kosta – Brown line was buzzing. After forcing Post to make some hard saves, Brown passed the puck up to Woloschuk at the line, who got it over to Larocque. She picked her spot and sent the puck flying over Post’s glove to get her first goal back with the Thunder!

Over the next four minutes the teams would exchange chances on the power play. Kelty Apperson was called for a cross check, and Kristen Barbara for slashing. Both resulted in successful penalty kills. Play continued on the fast, physical path, but it wasn’t until the last few minutes that the Thunder added to their goal total. Richards and Bozek assisted on Jaime Lee Rattray’s goal, and Laura McIntosh assisted on Bozek’s empty netter which sealed a 5-1 win.

 

Game Two

With Rogers Hometown Hockey in Markham, the Thunder were visited by Ron McLean and Tara Slone for a special puck drop.

It was then time to keep the excitement going. Liz Knox and Delayne Brian got the calls in goal. It was another fast, grinding period of hockey from the two teams – Lindsay Grigg made a shot pass to Rattray who just missed the redirect, then McParland stepped on the ice and forced Brian to make a quick save. Barbara took a slashing penalty at the halfway mark of the period, then after she returned to the ice Skeats went off for hooking. Turnbull was cited for interference and we had 4-on-4 play for 48 seconds before the end of the period.

 

The second frame started with Skeats leaving the box, and the Thunder gaining the skater advantage. Rattray and McIntosh connected with Bozek who let a blast go from the point, breaking the deadlock. Woloschuk received a penalty for holding the stick, but Knox was up to the task, turning aside all of Calgary’s attempts. McIntosh went on a breakaway and Brian made a good save to keep the score 1-0. The Thunder came back and got the puck into the net, but the officials called it off due to a player in the crease. Brown skated to the sin bin for delay of game and Markham made another kill. Less than a minute later, Barbara got the puck up to Rattray who made a beautiful pass to McIntosh. McIntosh sent the puck flying past Brian to give the Thunder a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.

 

Markham started the third off with a bang as Brown potted her fourth goal in as many games with the assistance of McParland and Dania Simmonds. Another parade to the penalty box began with Richards going off for a hold, Taryn Baumgardt for hooking, and Jenner for delay of game. The Jenner penalty gave the Thunder a 5-on-3 for 1:34, and they went to work. Rattray and McIntosh connected to get Bozek another blast from the point, adding more padding to the lead. McIntosh then followed the conga line to the box, taking a delay of game penalty. Knox made some great saves, but just as McIntosh returned to the ice, Sophie Shirley scored, assisted by Gavrilova. The final score was 4-1 and with the win, Liz Knox became the winningest goaltender in Thunder history.