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Markham Dominates In Battle Of The GTA

 

Game One

Special puck drop with Jayna Hefford, her daughter, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, and City of Markham Fire Fighters – Jess Ritchotte

Erica Howe faced off against Amanda Makela for this special matinee game. The first period was high flying, with both goaltenders getting into the action early. Howe had to deal with Toronto bodies in her crease, but she saw through the traffic. Going the other way, Jenna McParland centered for Nicole Brown in the slot, forcing Makela to make a quick pad save.  Megan Bozek then brought the puck back into the Furies’ zone, wrapping the puck around the net, but Sydney Kidd checked her stick just in time to throw the puck off its course. After more back and forth, Brittany Zuback went racing into the Thunder zone, pulled the puck around Megan Delay, and put it high glove side, bar-down for the ice-breaker. Both teams continued to trade chances for the second half of the period, with few whistles blown. Howe made a save on bobbling puck off Carolyne Prevost’s stick. Back in Toronto’s zone, Jamie Lee Rattray battled along the boards behind the net, getting the puck free to Laura McIntosh, who quickly passed it out to Kristen Richards waiting along the goal line, but her shot went right to the crest. McParland took a hard shot from the top of the circle, but the blocker save was made. Bozek then took a blast from the point that was only stopped by the tip of Makela’s glove. The opening frame would end with Toronto up 1-0.

To start the second period, Toronto was looking to clear their zone, but coughed the puck up. Rattray was there to pick it up and was able to get a wrister off in the high slot. Urban was then called for interference, and the Thunder penalty kill went to work. Kristen Richards was able to kill some time in the Furies’ zone. After Urban returned to the bench, Nicole Brown took the puck from centre ice into the offensive zone, passing it out from the boards  to McParland who came swooping into the high slot. She then took it wide, got herself around the pressing defender, but wasn’t able to get all of the backhanded shot. She took the puck from the corner and got it to the point where Alexis Woloschuk – in her first game since November – who sent it flying to the back of the net! The tying goal was Woloschuk’s first in the CWHL! A few minutes later, Megan Bozek sat for a high stick. Rattray who was out killing the penalty, was tripped by Michelle Saunders and we got 1:40 of 4-on-4 play which was dominated by Markham. After our shortened power play ended, Bozek took the puck in deep, wrapping the puck around the net and under Makela, but unfortunately the net was off.  Just past the halfway mark, Alexa Aramburu  tripped up Kristen Barbara, and Taylor Woods checked her afterwards. Both Aramburu and Woods were cited and we had more 4-on-4 hockey. The Thunder once again controlled the play, and with 10 seconds left, Lindsay Grigg took a blast from the point, Makela gave up the rebound, and McParland swooped in pocketing the go-ahead goal! A few minutes later, Laura McIntosh took the puck from the half-boards passing it across to Bozek at the far point, getting a hard shot right to Makela. Richards was waiting at the side of the net and slid home the rebound that trickled out giving the Thunder a 3-1 lead! With the period winding down, Markham did not stop the pressure. Grigg went end-to-end getting a nice chance along the goal line. Aramburu took down Melissa Wronzberg and went to the box. With one second left in the advantage, Brown passed the puck to McParland who was sneaking in behind the defence, but she just missed and the net came off its moorings. Thunder would head to the intermission up 3-1.

The third period got off to a great start as McIntosh passed the puck to Rattray in the neutral zone, who then broke into the zone. Rattray toe dragged the puck back between her legs to get around the Toronto player, took the shot and tapped in the rebound off Makela’s pad making it 4-1.

The Furies had a few shifts where they peppered Howe, but she stood tall. Markham returned the favour, spending a prolonged period in Toronto’s zone. Urban checked Moulson behind the net, getting the puck to Devon Skeats. She took a backhander which Makela stopped, but the rebound popped right out to Ellie Seedhouse who put the puck between the glove and pad for her first goal of the season! The pressure continued and Woods rung one off a post. McIntosh drew a penalty from Ella Stewart who was sent off for holding. Not long after, Carolyne Prevost joined her in the box for goalie interference. Getting set up on the 5-on-3, Rattray and McIntosh passed it back and forth before giving it over to Bozek who blasted it home for her first goal of the season and first as a member of the Markham Thunder! With a few minutes left in the game, Carly Campbell got the puck to Emily Fulton who put it high on Howe to cut Markham’s lead to 6-2. Urban got the puck behind Makela as she was falling in the crease, but the officials ruled no goal on the play. The Thunder took the game with the final score of 6-2!

Game Two

Scotiabank Hockey skater Samantha joined the team as they took to the ice. – Jess Ritchotte

Liz Knox got the call for Markham, with Toronto going with Makela for the second game of the weekend. It was another fast start between these teams, with Bozek getting a good scoring chance on the first shift of the game, but the shot was gloved by Makela. Knox returned the favour, taking a puck to the crest. The Thunder had prolonged time in the offensive zone after hitting a post, and McIntosh dancing around Furies. Markham received their first power play of the game when Shannon Stewart was sent off for hooking, but nothing came of the advantage. The pressure continued as Skeats rushed into the zone and almost put her own rebound into the net. Hayley Williams was sent off to the Toronto’s box after picking a second stick up off the ice, making her an ineligible player.  McIntosh popped the puck up to Bozek at the point, who blasted it on net. Richards was in front and tipped the shot in behind Makela to take the lead! Williams, who returned to the ice with the Thunder goal, found herself back in the box for boarding. This time Markham could not convert. The Furies came off the penalty kill looking to tie the game, but Knox stood tall turning them aside. Richards, McIntosh and Rattray almost converted… until the puck hit the post. The Thunder returned to the power play when Ella Stewart was called for hooking. Woloschuk and Barbara exchanged the puck along the blue line, then got it down to Brown in front who scored her first CWHL goal! Urban was cited for hooking just before the end of the period, and Markham would take their 2-0 lead into the intermission.

The second seemed to be the period of penalties, even though there was the same number called as the first. Markham started the period completing the penalty kill, but McParland put them back down a skater for roughing. Knox and the penalty killers shut down Toronto, and ended up on the power play when Carlee Campbell was sent off for delay of game. When nothing came of the advantage, the teams continued to go north and south, until Urban went to the box for hooking. Once again, Markham worked together to keep the Furies out of their net. Jessica Hartwick was taken down in front of Toronto’s bench, slow to get up. She was understandably heated when making her way back to her bench as Jenna Dingeldein was given 10 and 2 for head contact – Alessandra Bianchi would serve the minor.

Toronto killed off the minor penalty, but that didn’t stop the Thunder from rolling. Woods and Brown connected, and McParland got the puck to the net and behind Makela to add to Markham’s lead! The Furies had something to say about that as Hayley Williams put one high over Knox’s glove to cut the score to 3-1. Woods took matters into her own hands, flying in to Toronto’s net, but was robbed by Makela’s glove. A couple minutes later, Rattray and Richards put on a passing clinic as they worked their way to the net, which ended with Richards pocketing her second goal of the game, restoring Markham’s three goal lead. On the next shift, Brown hit the post and was then called for slashing. Luckily, Knox was on her game, nullifying the advantage for the Furies. Shortly after, McIntosh was checked by Vella, putting Markham on the PP. The line of McParland, Woods and Brown had a great shift during the 5-on-4 action, but the score remained the same. After Vella returned to the ice, Toronto rushed the puck up into the Thunder’s zone, but Grigg made a great play separating the puck from the player. After some great zone time from Markham, the Furies’ came back with Dingeldein and Vella connecting with Michelle Saunders to cut the Thunder lead to 4-2.  With the game winding down, Toronto took the opportunity to pull their goalie for the extra attacker. Simmonds shot the puck down the ice from deep in Markham’s zone. A Furies’ player tried to chase it down, but ended up giving the puck a little extra push as it arrived at the goal line. Simmonds would be credited with the empty netter, and the Thunder took away another two points!

 

The win marked Liz Knox’s 35th win in the CWHL, tying her with Laura Hosier for most wins in Thunder history.

Thunder Couldn’t Put Out The Inferno

 

With a record of 3-1-2, the Thunder headed west to Calgary on their first roadtrip outside of the Greater Toronto Area.

Game One

Erica Howe, of Ottawa, ON, in action as the Calgary Inferno host the Markham Thunder Star in a CWHL game at the Markin McPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta on November 4, 2017.    -Dave Holland

Erica Howe would face-off against Lindsey Post in another tight goalie matchup. Devon Skeats was sent to the box for holding less than two minutes into the game, but the Thunder were up to the task. Markham got their own chance on the man advantage as Kayla Gardner was called for tripping almost seven minutes into the frame. With no score after the exchange of power plays, Jamie Lee Rattray sat for tripping just over halfway through the period. Yet again, the Thunder penalty killers supported Howe and the first ended scoreless.  

The second period started the same way for the Thunder, with an early penalty. This time, Lindsay Grigg was called for tripping, quickly followed by Kristen Barbara taking the same penalty. After successful kills, the Inferno were able to get the puck past Howe as Elana Lovell connected with Rhianna Kurio and take the 1-0 lead. Players continued their march to the box with Rattray and Erica

November 4, 2017 – 2017-2018 CWHL – Calgary Inferno vs Markham Thunder – WinSport, Calgary, AB. (Photo by Laine Schuck). Markham Thunder celebrates a goal.

Kromm taking coincidental minors for hooking and roughing, followed by two more Inferno players with Kelty Apperson going off for tripping and Iya Gavrilova sitting for body checking. With the period winding down, Rattray got the puck mid-ice, drove down the wall, and made a nifty move putting the puck behind the net to get it in front. She was able to get around the side just enough to slap the puck on net with one hand on the stick, allowing a small rebound for Jenna McParland and Karolina Urban to be there on the doorstep to bang it in together. That allowed the Thunder to finish another period even at 1-1.

Once again, Markham began the period with a penalty kill as Taylor Woods was called for holding 1:42 into the third period. Play continued back and forth until 7:46 when Skeats found herself in the box again, this time for interference. Howe and the penalty kill units remained sharp, and the Thunder returned to even strength. Calgary pocketed the go-ahead goal from Kromm, assisted by Dakota Woodworth, just after the halfway mark of the frame. With Kelly Murray sitting for hooking shortly after, the Thunder pressured the Inferno with the power play advantage, but were unable to convert. Post made a huge backdoor save on Jenna McParland late in the power play. With Howe pulled for the extra attacker, the Thunder couldn’t keep the puck deep and Louise Warren secured the win for Calgary with an empty net goal.

 

Game Two

The visitors score as the Calgary Inferno host the Markham Thunder in a CWHL game at the Markin McPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta on November 5, 2017. – Dave Holland

Liz Knox got the start for the Thunder while Post drew in for her second game of the weekend for the Inferno. Calgary was given the first penalty of the game for holding. With Sophie Shirley sitting, Markham set up their power play unit. Less than a minute into the advantage, McParland connected with Rattray who took a shot that gave an empty net, back door for Kristen Richards who banged it home for the early lead! Unfortunately, 1:08 later the Inferno tied it up with a goal from Kurio, assisted by Shirley and Murray. Midway through the opening period Warren was sent to the box for roughing, but nothing would materialize on the advantage. Warren found herself back in the box, this time for a roughing coincidental with Skeats. The 4-on-4 lead to more open ice, and as the penalties were coming to a close, Calgary took advantage as Hayleigh Cudmore found Katelyn Gosling. The Inferno would take the 2-1 lead into the second frame.

Liz Knox, of Stouffville, ON, watches the play as the Calgary Inferno host the Markham Thunder in a CWHL game at the Markin McPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta on November 5, 2017. -Dave Holland

At 5:49 of the second period, Megan Grenon was called for a hook, and the Thunder quickly profited as Barbara sailed the puck past Post tying up the game. Play would continue to go north and south for most of the period. It wasn’t until the 18:19 mark when Calgary would reclaim the lead off of Jacquie Pierri’s first CWHL goal, assisted by Taryn Baumgardt.

Partway through the third an unfortunate bounce off an official’s skate put the puck out front of Knox’s crease, and Warren was able to get it behind the Thunder goaltender. Calgary continued to pressure in the zone, and Cudmore was able to get the puck to Kromm who pocketed it in the net. Head Coach Jim Jackson made the decision to put Howe in net for the remainder of the game. Becca King sat for tripping, and the Inferno exploited the advantage as Woodworth and Shirley connected with Murray. Another penalty would be handed out to the Thunder as Barbara went off for body checking shortly after Murray’s goal, but Calgary’s offence was stifled. The Inferno’s Gosling delayed the game and was in the box for the final 1:07 of the game. On the penalty kill, Murray got the puck to Kayla Gardner who got the short handed goal giving the Inferno a 7-2 win.

Thunder Take Two Points in Back to Back OT Games

The Thunder took on les Canadiennes de Montreal, defending Clarkson Cup champions, the weekend of October 28th and 29th. The first look the teams had of each other after last season’s bitter playoff matchup, the games delivered intensity and passion. The Thunder also welcomed back Ellie Seedhouse, who last played with the team in 2015-16, as a call up to help fill out the lineup. On Saturday’s game the Thunder were joined by two special guests – Jocelyne Larocque and Laura Stacey! Our Captain and the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year were on a break from their centralization with Hockey Canada to check out their new CWHL home in Markham!

Game One

Erica Howe and Emerance Maschmeyer were called on to defend their respective nets, and they would settle in for a long duel. Early on, Montreal tried to press the Markham defence, but they could not establish themselves in the zone. The play was fast, and Montreal was called for a hooking call just over two minutes into the period. With the Thunder trying to set up their power play, Kristen Richards was sent to the box shortly after for a slash. Neither team would be able to convert on the 4-on-4 play. The action continued to move north and south with Karolina Urban and Jamie Lee Rattray each having good scoring opportunities. As the end of the period approached, les Canadiennes headed back to the box on a slashing call. Markham pressured, but were unable to get one past Maschmeyer.

The second period saw more back and forth between the teams, each exchanging chances, but Howe and Maschmeyer stood tall. Montreal then took four minor penalties within the last half of the frame, two were for body checking as Urban and Jessica Hartwick were taken down. The Thunder peppered les Canadiennes with shots, but as they came close the net came loose. The period would end with the 0-0 deadlock intact.

Markham and Montreal both came out looking to finally get the go-ahead goal, and the speed and physicality continued. Hartwick was sent to the penalty box early in the period for interference, but Howe and the penalty killers didn’t give Montreal an inch. Howe continued to stay sharp making key saves through traffic and les Canadiennes storming the crease. Sixty minutes would not be enough, so we headed to overtime!

The Thunder came out strong in OT. Kristen Barbara narrowly missed the net, and Howe made the save as Montreal took the puck into Markham’s zone. The Thunder quickly moved back into the offensive zone and took the shot. Maschmeyer bobbled the puck and needed to reach behind to keep it out of her net. Shortly after, les Canadiennes’ Cathy Chartrand was able to put the puck in behind Howe with just over a minute left in OT.

 

Game Two

Liz Knox guarded the Thunder net, while Maschmeyer started her second game of the weekend.  It was another fast-paced, physical game and Markham was awarded two power plays early on. Unfortunately, the Thunder were unable to get the puck behind Maschmeyer. With just over six minutes remaining in the period, Chartrand sailed the puck past Knox and les Canadiennes took the lead. Not long after, Richards was called for a hook shortly followed by Kim Deschênes heading off for Montreal on a tripping penalty. After Markham’s penalty expired, Dania Simmonds found Richards, who got the puck to Rattray who potted it in behind the goaltender. The first period would end tied at 1-1.

The second frame began with a charged Thunder pressuring les Canadiennes. Devon Skeats had a great chance but the net came loose, then King connected with Rattray but the shot hit Maschmeyer in the crest. Close to the halfway mark, Hartwick and Emmanuelle Blais were sent to their penalty boxes for coincidental penalties – hooking and roughing. Neither team was able to score during the 4-on-4. Back to even strength, Sarah Lefort placed a shot over Knox’s blocker and Montreal took the 2-1 lead. The period ended with a great chance from Richards who attempted to tip one past Maschmeyer.

The Thunder would begin the third on the penalty kill as Hartwick and Katia Clement-Heydra got into it at the end of 40 minutes – Hartwick took the extra minor. After the coincidentals ran out, Seedhouse took a hard shot from the hashmarks, but the save was made. With Hartwick out of the box, the Thunder were swarming Montreal’s net. Maschmeyer left her crease, but Skeats was not able to get the shot from the side of the net. Megan Delay was sent off for roughing, and Knox shone on the penalty kill seeing through the traffic Montreal was creating. With five minutes remaining, the Thunder received a power play after Chartrand was called for a trip. Using the momentum from the man advantage, Lindsay Grigg forced Maschmeyer to make a quick save with a shot from the goal line. With the clock running down the line of Richards, Rattray and Laura McIntosh were buzzing in the offensive zone. They were able to connect with less than two minutes in the period with McIntosh netting the tying goal!

Once again, three periods were not enough and the teams headed to another overtime period. Lefort would score for les Canadiennes near the end of the final frame.

 

Thoughts from the Thunder

Both games saw incredible performances from the goaltenders – Howe made 35 saves and Knox had 26 stops. The Thunder played complete team games, containing Montreal’s offence while bombarding them with 69 total shots over the weekend.

Speaking on Saturday’s game: “There are definitely a lot of bodies, a really physical game,” said Melissa Wronzberg. “We just have to keep crashing the net – the rebounds are there.”

“We played really well, it was probably one of the best all-round games we’ve played,”  added Simmonds. “We really need to get that puck in the net. Maschmeyer gave us a few good open nets and we didn’t capitalize.”

On Sunday’s game: “We were forechecking well, getting clean breakouts… we just need to keep putting pressure and get more shots,” said Lindsay Grigg.

Nicole Brown agreed, “We need to be more aggressive on the puck, keep our heads up and get more shots on net.”

“I thought we played a great game, very fast from the get-go and we stayed with them the whole game. Even when we got down early we didn’t give up and took them right to overtime,” reflected Seedhouse.

 

The Thunder go on roadtrips to Calgary and ShenZen in November, returning home for a rematch against les Canadiennes on December 2nd.

Thunder Sweep Red Star in Home Opening Weekend

Two very special games on the weekend of October 21st and 22nd marked success on and off the ice for the Thunder. Our first games at our new home in Markham also featured the debut of Kunlun Red Star to the CWHL, and a fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

Game One

Liz Knox got the start in the home opener, a fitting moment as she grew up in near-by Stouffville. Knox had to be sharp in the first couple of minutes as Kunlun came out firing, but her teammates quickly went the other way peppering Raty. With both teams running on all cylinders, it wasn’t long before things got physical. Both Markham and Kunlun took four penalties in the opening period, more than half called for roughing. With the period winding down, Kunlun got on the board with a goal from Hickel (Stack, Yu) to give them the lead.

Early in the second Kristen Richards was called for cross checking, but the Thunder kept the Red Star offence at bay. Renewed after the successful penalty killed, Jamie Lee Rattray was in close on the Kunlun goal, but the puck wouldn’t go in. Then Laura McIntosh dished it across to Karolina Urban, but the defender went down at the last second, blocking the pass. It wasn’t long before Rattray had the puck again, and this time it got in behind Raty. It was Rattray’s first goal of the season and we were tied at 1-1 midway through the second frame.

The rest of the period featured the Thunder storming the offensive zone, but they were foiled by the Red Star defence and Raty. Nicole Kosta collided with Stack late in the frame and would not return to the game.

The third period was high with emotions – Markham looking to win their first home game, and Kunlun searching to get two points in their CWHL debut. The Thunder came out blazing, and before five minutes could tick off the clock, Urban passed to Barbara where she threaded the needle to Rattray back door tipping her second of the night behind Raty.

After more back and forth play, Kunlun was awarded a penalty shot with less than a minute left to play in the game.  Lianes took the shot, but Knox made it look easy with a quick catch of her glove. Time would run out, and the Thunder would win the home opener 2-1!

Tim Horton’s Three Stars

*Liz Knox

**Jamie Lee Rattray

*** Rachel Lianes

Game 2

The Thunder partnered with the Howe family to raise funds and awareness for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Erica Howe got the nod in net, and she met Noora Raty at center ice to take the ceremonial face off from her mother, Canadian Forces Major Jane Bruce, and Charles Mott, ambassador for the Foundation.

Only 30 seconds after the referee dropped the puck, Taylor Woods let one fly past Raty scoring her first goal in the CWHL, assisted by Skeats and Urban, giving the Thunder an early lead. Only a minute and a half later, Kristen Richards found Rattray open, and the shot hit the twine! With the early 2-0 lead, Markham worked hard to kill off three penalties, and continued to keep the Kunlun defence on their toes during three power plays, including one awarded at the end of the period.

The second period started with a bit of deja vu as Simmonds found Rattray in front putting the Thunder up 3-0 only 36 seconds after the face off. Howe continued to stand on her head, turning away everything the Red Star threw at her – including going from post to post and using her toe to keep the puck out! Markham retrieved the puck, and Rattray sped down the ice, dangled Raty, but the goaltender was up to the task. The rest of the Thunder charged the net for the rebound, but once again Raty made it over in time to deny another goal.

The final frame began with Devon Skeats having some words with Raty after an early whistle. These battles would continue as the teams played two bouts of 4-on-4 action. The Red Star pressed Howe and her defence trying to get on the scoreboard, but she stood tall.  

With her family and fans in the stands wearing special t-shirts honouring her father Peter Howe, Erica stopped the last shot and held on for her second shutout of the season.

Tim Horton’s Three Stars

*Erica Howe

**Jamie Lee Rattray

*** Lindsay Grigg

Thoughts from the Thunder

“It was a very exciting weekend for both teams. The house was packed on Saturday night and they got quite the show. Nothing like a physical, back and forth one goal game with a penalty shot at the end of it,” said Thunder General Manager Chelsea Purcell. “Our team battled hard and I’m looking forward to seeing how we match up with the rest of the teams in the League. It’s early in the season, but I only see success ahead with this new group of players and staff we have.”

Giving her thoughts on the first look at Kunlun and the home crowd Taylor Woods said, “They’re pretty fast, and move the puck pretty well. We had a good jump, there’s great energy in the rink.”

Liz Knox agreed, “We had an outstanding crowd here for us tonight, so it’s pretty exciting to be able to get the first win at home. I was able to make key saves when I needed to, but the team stepped up – it was a great team effort with everyone stepping up.”

Erica Howe on her second shutout and what it meant to get the win on such an important day: “It just felt good, it was an emotional day. On the way to the rink I was thinking about the past nine years without my dad. For the team to come together like that, clear the rebounds from out in front, block shots, and battle… it felt really good knowing I had the team behind me.”  

Thunder Split Season Opening Series vs Furies

 

The Markham Thunder took to the ice for the first time in an official Canadian Women’s Hockey League game on October 14th, 2017. With 17 returning members from the Brampton incarnation of the squad, the team added new blood with four draftees and two free agents. The Thunder came out rolling, and you could see the chemistry on the ice.

Photo: Teri Di-Lauro

Game One

Games against GTA rivals the Toronto Furies always bring an extra intensity, for the fans and for the players. The first period saw two penalties awarded to the Thunder, both successfully killed off.  Both teams would leave after the opening frame without any pucks getting behind the netminders, Erica Howe for the Thunder and Sonja van der Bliek for the Furies. Fielding Montgomery blocked a shot during the period and would not return to the game.

Kristen Barbara Photo: Teri Di-Lauro

The intensity heightened in the second period as five power plays were handed out – two were awarded to the Thunder. During the 5-on-3 advantage Kristen Barbara scored, unassisted, giving Markham the lead.

The goaltending battle continued through the final 20 minutes. The Thunder peppered van der Bliek with high-quality shots, including three turns with the man advantage. Howe held down the fort, making 24 saves in the game, earning her first shutout of the season! Howe was awarded the second star of the game, along with the Thunder voted Player of the Game title, and Barbara took first star honours.

Game Two

Kristen Richards Photo: Teri Di-Lauro

Sunday’s match had a similar goaltending duel with Liz Knox taking care of the Thunder’s net. Markham’s first penalty of the game arrived only 3:21 into the period with Kristen Richards serving time. Following a successful kill, Richards returned to the ice and scored a few minutes later, assisted by Jessica Hartwick, giving the Thunder an early lead. Two more penalties would be given to the Thunder, but the Furies could not solve Knox or the Thunder defence.

With Toronto taking a penalty late in the first period, Markham began the second frame with over a minute on the power play. After dictating the play, the Thunder would once again be on the skater advantage halfway through the period. After a prolonged stint in the offensive zone and an unlucky bounce off a post, the puck transferred to the Furies. Two quick goals in the last minutes of the second gave Toronto the 2-1 lead.   

Markham showed good coverage in their own zone during a penalty kill and 4-on-4 action during the final period. The Thunder continued to put pressure on the Furies, spending long stretches in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, they were unable to put the puck past van der Bliek, or the post (again), and Toronto took the second game. Devon Skeats was awarded the third star of the game.

Thoughts from the Thunder

Photo: Teri Di-Lauro

Overall, the players and coaches echoed the same sentiments – strong play in all zones and palpable team chemistry are good signs for what is to come this season.

“Anytime you can go into the other team’s arena and come out with a split, it has to be considered a success. We had some veteran players take a big step forward in their development, and our rookies showed great poise,” said Kevin Stone, assistant coach. “Our offence generated a lot of opportunities, and with some tweaking and polishing, we’ll do just fine. It was great to see a fine effort from our back end. Our defence will be the anchor of this team. The excitement going forward with this group will only grow.”

Photo: Teri Di-Lauro

Candice Moxley, assistant coach, concurred. “I felt our team got progressively better throughout the weekend and although the second game didn’t show the results we wanted, it was a great learning opportunity for our team early on.” She continued, “We are just scratching the surface with our teams potential and that is exciting to us as a staff.”  

Those at the MasterCard Centre this weekend were able to see the high-quality scoring chances the Thunder generated and the strong offensive zone pressure, but the players know what they need to work on. “I think we improved as the weekend went on,” Kristen Richards said. “We definitely deserved a better fate in Sunday’s game, but we have a lot of work to do to find the back of the net. It’s coming.”

Liz Knox agreed, “I think as a team, we showed some progress between game one and game two. We were gripping the stick a little less today and showing that we have some chemistry and creativity up front. Although we struggled to finish on Sunday, I was much happier with the overall performance of our team game. We have work to do, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

Her goalie partner Erica Howe reiterated the sentiments on team growth. “It was a good weekend to start the season, we continued to get better as the games went on. I think we played a team game and you could see the chemistry building shift to shift. I look forward to getting back to work and building on what we accomplished this weekend.”

Laura McIntosh Photo: Teri Di-Lauro

Long-time fans of the Thunder would have noticed a familiar face that returned to the lineup – Laura McIntosh was all over the ice this weekend, showing no rust after taking a break from CWHL action last season.“It was great to get back on the ice with the Thunder, and I’m looking forward to playing with the team this season!”

A 2016 draft pick who played a couple of games for the Thunder last season before being sidelined by an injury, Kristen Barbara continued her strong two-way play exhibited in the pre-season. “I thought it was a great opening weekend for us – we battled hard and had a lot of fun with it,” she said. “Essentially we want to bring that momentum into the rest of the season.”

Be sure to catch the Thunder’s home opening weekend this Saturday, October 21st at 7:30pm and Sunday, October 22nd at 12:30pm for our Brain Tumour Fundraiser. Games are played at Thonrnhill Community Centre. For group pricing please contact [email protected].