Erica Howe got the nod for Markham, while Alex Rigsby took her place in net for Calgary. Right off the hop, you could see that both teams were focused. Jenna McParland, Jamie Lee Rattray, Victoria Bach and Laura Fortino kicked things off with some great chances in the offensive zone, while Kristen Richards stripped Zoe Hickel of the puck to make sure play stayed there. Closer to the halfway mark, McParland received the puck and broke into the Inferno’s zone, danced around every skater and popped the puck past Rigsby to give Markham the lead! Ailish Forfar was sent to the box for delay of game a couple minutes later, but the PK unit and Howe were up to the task. Howe continued to stifle the Calgary attack with great saves on Rebecca Leslie and Blayre Turnbull to close out the period.
At the start of the second frame, Kristen Barbara is cited for cross-checking. Howe stopped Turnbull in her tracks twice, and covered up for a defensive bobble until Barbara returned to the ice. Bach had another good chance on Rigsby, and then Turnbull was sent to the box for interference after she took down Laura Stacey. It didn’t take long for Bach to set her sights back on the Inferno’s net, scoring the Thunder’s second marker of the game with assists going to Rattray and Fortino. Five minutes later, Leslie got one back for the home team assisted by Brianne Jenner and Turnbull. Fortino went off for holding but Howe held the fort on the penalty kill, with the Thunder’s 2-1 lead carrying into the intermission.
The third started with more good offensive chances for Markham from McParland, Stacey, Bach and Rattray, with great plays in their own zone from Richards and Ella Matteucci. Unfortunately, around five minutes in, Hickel tied the game with the assist going to Rebecca Johnston. Howe saved a slapper from Katelyn Gosling and Jess Jones followed that up with a block on another shot. The game moved into extra time, where McParland and Stacey had the best chances on Rigsby. No one would score, so we went to a shootout. Erica Howe stopped shots from Johnston, Jenner and Brianna Decker, while Kristen Barbara was able to score after Jones and Bach were unsuccessful which gave Markham the win!
On Sunday, both team travelled to nearby Cochrane and Liz Knox would take over the net for the Thunder. The game began with Jocelyne Larocque and Knox combining to stop the Inferno. It was short lived as Richards went to the box for tripping and Leslie capitalized on the second rebound with assists to Kacey Bellamy and Brigette Lacquette. Bach and Jones followed up on the next shift with chances, but it would be Brooke Webster feeding the puck to Rattray to tie things up at 1-1 less than two minutes after the Calgary goal. Among some offensive chances, the Thunder got in penalty trouble with Taylor Woods (tripping), Rattray (roughing) and Forfar (slashing) all heading to the box.
The second period began with the Inferno still on the 5-on-3 for 48 seconds. After three tries, Johnston finally got the puck past Knox with the assist going to Decker. With Forfar still in the box, Turnbull would capitalize to give Calgary the 3-1 lead, helpers went to Leslie and Lacquette. Kelly Murray took a holding penalty, giving the Thunder their first chance on the advantage. Stacey and Jones tried for a tip pass, but the power play would end. Richards and McParland would connect with Stacey to bring Markham within one, but Hickel would retake the two-goal lead with help from Johnston seconds later. Murray headed back to the box this time for body-checking. An unfortunate turn over lead to Hickel and Venla Hovi breaking down the ice shorthanded and scoring to go up 5-2. Jones would sit for cross-checking with 25 seconds left, and Knox made huge saves to close out the frame.
With just over a minute left on the penalty kill, Markham would be successful, and head to an advantage of their own when Jones was checked by Louise Warren. Fortino and Megan Bozek both had big blasts from the blue line, but neither was able to get the puck past Rigsby. A few minutes later, Lacquette sat for holding. As Jenner went on a shorthanded break, Bozek caught up to her but tripped her up, and Jenner was awarded a penalty shot.
STOPPED BY KNOX (and the post) 🙌 pic.twitter.com/XRN980kSLP
— Markham Thunder 🌩 (@ThunderCWHL) December 2, 2018
Thanks to the post and the quick glove of Knox, the Thunder were able to get within two as Webster assisted on a Fortino goal. As the game wound down and the extra attacker on, Stacey and McParland both hda good chances on Rigsby, but the Inferno would take the game 5-3.