Thunder Battle Hard, Fall to Inferno

Feature photo by Teri Di-Lauro

Game One

The Thunder opened strong, backstopped by Erica Howe in net. Calgary got out to penalty trouble early, and their goaltender Alex Rigsby had to be strong in helping kill off a penalty to Brigette Lacquette for hooking. A few minutes later, the Inferno found themselves back on the defence as Kelly Murray sat for roughing. Kristen Richards and Jamie Lee Rattray both had quality scoring chances, but it would be Laura Fortino who would finally find the back of the net after a rush up the ice assisted by Richards and Howe! Before the period ended, Markham would get another chance on the advantage as Brianne Jenner tripped Laura Stacey. The power play and more chances from Jones and Bozek would not add to the score.

The second period began with more just misses from the Thunder, but Calgary would take advantage of a screen and some tips to tie the game up thanks to Rebecca Johnston from Venla Hovi and Brigette Lacquette. A couple minutes later, Blayre Turnbull would send the puck over Howe’s shoulder to five the Inferno the lead, assisted by Tori Hickel and K. Murray. Rigsby would make a good blocker save on Rattray to keep the Calgary lead as teams headed to their locker rooms to get ready for the third.

Markham and Calgary exchanged time on the player advantage as Lacquette sat for body checking, and then Richards was called for tripping. The Inferno were back on the PK when Rebecca Leslie was cited for goalie interference, but all penalties would be killed off. Katelyn Gosling widened the visiting team’s lead with assists to Jenner and Leslie. Markham wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and Kristen Barbara would breathe life back into the game as Jocelyne Larocque fed her the puck and she rifled it into the back of a yawning net. With 31 seconds left in regulation, Victoria Bach went charging down the ice and tied the game!

The Thunder had two chances where it looked like they would take the extra point. One was when Larocque and Rattray descended on Rigsby, but she foiled it by catching the puck in her glove. The second chance came when Bach narrowly missed putting the puck top shelf. With 13 seconds left, Kasey Bellamy used a screen to her advantage and won the game for Calgary, with assists going to Gosling and Johnston.

Game Two

With Jess Jones out of the lineup due to a lower body injury, Laura McIntosh was called up from Markham’s extended roster for the afternoon tilt on Sportsnet.

Once again, the Thunder got out to a good start as Rattray crashed the net to open the game. Unfortunately for her, Rigsby caught the puck. Liz Knox denied Kelty Apperson at the other end of the ice, before Erica Kromm was called for tripping and headed to the box. Less than a minute into the Thunder power play, Brigette Lacquette was sent off for cross checking and Markham went on the 5-on-3. Jenna McParland opened the scoring after deflecting the puck off an Inferno defender and down Rigsby’s back, with the assists going to Bozek and Fortino.

A few seconds later, Bozek would pot a goal of her own with a blast from the point assisted by McIntosh and Rattray.

With seconds left in the opening frame, Taylor Woods would put the puck over the glass, sending Calgary to the power play.

During the intermission, it was announced that Liz Knox would be joining the Inferno’s Brigette Lacquette as a captain at the All-Star Game on January 20th in Toronto.

With almost the full two minutes on the power play to open the second period, Calgary’s Jenner would cut the Thunder lead in half with the assist to Lacquette. Gosling tied the game with helpers to Leslie and Bellamy just over a quarter of the way into the frame. Things got chippy as Richards sat for tripping, and Jenner gave Calgary the lead assisted by Leslie and Lacquette. Halli Krzyzaniak went off for two penalties – first for interference and second for tripping. The Inferno killed both of them off, and in between Rigsby stopped Nicole Brown on a breakaway. Johnston from Turnbull made the Inferno lead 4-2, and Brooke Webster took a tripping penalty at the end of the period.

Kelly Gribbons began the period with a drive to the net that saw the puck sit on the goal line before Rigsby reached back to save it. When play moved into Markham’s zone, Turnbull added to the Inferno’s goal total assisted by Johnston and Hovi. A minute later, Fortino got one back for the Thunder after receiving the puck from Bach and Rattray.

As the minutes continued to come off the clock, Knox made a point-blank save on Johnston. With just over two minutes left, Lacquette went to the box for holding. With Knox pulled for the extra attacker and Lacquette still in the box, Dakota Woodworth was called for tripping and Markham had a 6-on-3. Fortino pinched down, and Rattray shoveled the puck past Rigsby to make the score 5-4 with seconds left on the clock.

Markham would not score again before the buzzer, and Calgary took the game.