Strong Performance Gives Thunder Three Points

 

The Thunder were dominant in their weekend series against the Vanke Rays, taking away three points.

Game One

Megan Bozek was welcomed to Markham as her new teammates generously let her take a lap during warmups all by herself! With the welcome prank out of the way, the teams returned to the ice to play the game.

Jess Bazal

Liz Knox and Elaine Chuli faced off in goal. The Thunder came out roaring, peppering the Vanke net with pucks. Melissa Wronzberg and Jamie Lee Rattray both had good scoring chances early on, but Chuli (with the help of a post) was able to keep the onslaught at bay… until Kristen Barbara found Devon Skeats who went hard to the side of the net and banged it home to open the game’s scoring.

Knox made key saves, giving Markham the confidence to continue to press in the offensive zone. Rattray took the puck off a Rays player as they tried to exit their zone, where Kristen Richards picked it up at the blue line, and moved in on Chuli. As she moved to the net, Richards pass the puck on the backhand to Laura McIntosh who was entering the slot. McIntosh shot it high over Chuli’s glove, giving the Thunder a 2-0 lead.

As the first period drew to a close, Skeats was called for slashing and Markham would take the penalty kill into the second frame.

Knox and the PK unit killed off the remainder of Skeats’ penalty, and shortly after Richards took the puck below the goal line, and went for the wrap-around. She tucked the puck past Chuli to widen Markham’s lead to 3-0 early in the second. Less than a minute later, the Thunder headed to the power play as Yue Hou sat for slashing. Nicole Brown took the puck from the half-wall and sauced it cross-ice to Jenna McParland who was poised to the right of Chuli, just above the goal line. McParland got the puck off her stick so fast and hard that the force of it hitting the twine rocked the net on its moorings, and the Thunder took a 4-0 lead off the power play marker.

The Rays quickly returned the favour, as Ashleigh Brykaliuk and Brooke Webster connected with Xin Fang to get their team on the board. McParland didn’t like that too much, and made it her mission to take the puck off Vanke, bring it in front of the net and bat in her own rebound.

With the Rays continuing to battle back, Knox held the fort as players were crowding her crease. Unfortunately, Kristen Barbara took a slashing penalty and Webster was able to cut the score to 5-2 after Brykaliuk and Minghui Kong got the puck to her on the power play. Markham was not going to back down, and Ellie Seedhouse came close to getting her first goal of the season, but the goal post was not her friend this game. Another penalty was called at the end of the period, this time giving the Thunder the advantage as Brykaliuk went to the box for body checking.

Vanke opened the third period by completing their penalty kill, but found themselves in trouble again when Yue was penalized for tripping. The Rays’ Webster was out killing the penalty when she moved a fallen stick into the way of play, interfering with the game. The Thunder now had a 5-on-3 for just under a minute. Bozek wound up at the point, sending a blast at Chuli who made the save. Chuli then made another outstanding save as she robbed Brown at the side of the net before the Thunder power play expired. Now, it was Markham’s turn for a march to the penalty box. Wronzberg went to the sin bin for interference, and Knox was on point making all the saves. A few minutes later, Dania Simmonds was called for slashing. This time, Vanke did not let the advantage go to waste as Cayley Mercer connected with Emma Woods to bring the Rays within two goals of the Thunder. Taylor Woods took a tripping penalty when play resumed, and once again the penalty kill unit and Knox stifled the Vanke offence. As the game entered its final minutes, Brown got the puck to Nicole Kosta who attempted a wrap-around, but Chuli made the initial save. McParland came in to clean up the rebound and completed the natural hat trick!

Jess Bazal

Vanke pulled Chuli for the extra attacker, but Webster was called for hooking and Markham would end the game on the power play. McParland’s hat trick and a solid performance from Knox made the difference in this one with the Thunder winning 6-3.

 

Game Two

Jess Bazal

The Thunder rolled into Garnet B Rickard Arena in Bowmanville looking to close out the series with Vanke on a high note. Erica Howe got the call for Markham against Chuli who was Vanke’s goalie of choice once again. Markham once again started strong, hitting a post a few minutes in, followed by McParland having a good chance at the side of the net. Just over five minutes into the opening period, Skeats was sent to the penalty box for interference. Howe made a series of saves and covered a quick rebound, making sure the Rays were not able to capitalize on the power play. Once Skeats returned to the ice, the fast pace continued. Bozek then took an interference call, but once again the PK unit came up big killing it off and had a good scoring chance shorthanded. Back at even strength, it didn’t take long for the Thunder to get their first chance on the power play. With Markham set up in the offensive zone, they were hungry for a goal. The whole arena thought the Thunder scored, cheering and celebrating, but the officials ruled that the puck did not make it behind Chuli. McParland was cited for a slash and we headed to a short period of 4-on-4 play, followed by a penalty kill. Bozek ended the period by breaking into the zone and getting a hard shot right to Chuli chest. The teams headed to the locker rooms tied at zero.

The second period began with a flurry of action as Richards got the puck up to Bozek, who found Rattray in front of the net and put the Thunder up 1-0! Less than a minute later, Vanke tied it up as Qinan Zhao and Emily Janiga connected with Xin who got the puck through traffic and past Howe. Markham went on the power play shortly after as Mercer went off for interference. Though the Thunder didn’t convert, their offence was buzzing. Bozek let go of a slap shot from the point, but the pad save was made. Rattray stole the puck to keep it in Vanke’s zone, went for the dangle, but caught an edge and couldn’t get her shot off the ground. The Rays came back, and Howe made an excellent pad save, Barbara cleared the rebound and went storming down the ice. Barbara, King and Rattray surrounded the net forcing Chuli to make many saves. Woods took a shot from the point, Skeats went for the redirect, but once again Chuli was there to make the stop. After 40 minutes of play the teams once again headed to their rooms tied, this time at 1-1.

Play continued to be fast and moved north to south for the first bit of the third period. Howe made a brilliant glove save on Brykaliuk, then Skeats was sent off for holding. While she was in the box, Richards sprung Rattray who sailed a shot past Chuli for her second goal of the game and giving the Thunder a 2-1 lead! When Skeats’ time in the box was complete, she battled along the boards and was cross checked by Webster sending Markham to the power play. A Thunder goal was called off due to a high stick, then they came back, hit a post, and narrowly missed the rebound. With the advantage over, Markham continued to press, carrying the puck all over the Vanke zone an taking shots from all angles. When the Rays got into the Thunder zone they pulled Chuli for the extra skater, then Woods was flagged for interference sending Markham to the penalty kill with three minutes left. A timeout was called and both teams regrouped. Chuli was put back in her net, then pulled again and with a minute and a half left Janiga scored, assisted by Brykaliuk and Hanna Bunton. As the seconds continued to come off the clock, Brown swept the puck from Howe’s crease and Bozek took it down to the opposing blue line and blasted the puck on net to try and solve the game in regulation… but overtime was needed.

Markham brought the pressure into the extra time. Woods and Skeats had two good scoring opportunities and Howe made key saves, but OT solved nothing and we headed to a shootout.

Taylor Woods shot first for the Thunder, but was denied by Chuli.

Emma Woods was first up for the Rays, and scored on Howe.

Rattray was next for Markham, but was turned aside by Chuli.

Janiga shot second for Vanke, and Howe made the stop.

McParland had the game on her stick for the Thunder, but was unable to get the puck past Chuli and Vanke took the game 3-2.