Thunder Play Strong Series, Split with Rays

Photos by Teri Di-Lauro

Game One

The Thunder and KRS Vanke Rays faced off in a rare weeknight game in Laura Fortino’s hometown of Ancaster, Ontario. The Ancaster Girls’ Hockey Association is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and we were so thankful for the strong support we received from the community!

Early in the first Markham was flying. With an early power play, Laura Stacey and Megan Bozek both had great chances on net. The Rays then took two more penalties in quick succession, leading to just over a minute of 5-on-3 action. Markham couldn’t get anything past Rays’ goaltender Noora Räty, and soon some 4-on-4 play commenced as Jenna McParland took exception to a hit and her and Stephanie Anderson were sent off. Thirty-three seconds later, Bozek was cited for roughing, placing the Thunder on the penalty kill. Brooke Webster got the puck up to Becca King who went streaking with Stacey into the offensive zone. Stacey sniped the puck past Räty to give the Thunder the lead!

Unfortunately, the Rays were still on the power play and quickly tied the game off a goal from Cayley Mercer assisted by Melanie Jue and Hannah Miller. The period would end tied.

The second started with another early power play for the Thunder, where Jess Jones showed off some quick hands, but wasn’t able to get the puck past Räty. A few minutes later, Shenzhen was back on the penalty kill but they got their own shorthanded goal from Miller, assisted by Hanna Bunton. Later in the period, Ella Matteucci got the puck to McParland who made a nice move around the defender and put the puck past Räty to tie it up once more. Shortly after, Jocelyne Larocque would head to the box for body-checking, but the period would end in the stalemate.

Both teams were trying their best to break the tie as the third period opened. It wasn’t until almost six minutes in that Rachel Llanes would get the puck through Knox, assisted by Emma Woods. Markham would pepper the Rays on the power play shortly after as Jue went off for body-checking, but nothing would hit the back of the net. Another penalty to the Rays’ Woods gave the Thunder a late chance to try and take the game to extra time, but Shenzhen killed it off and took the win.

Game Two

Back at the Thornhill Community Centre, Erica Howe would take the Thunder net, while Räty once again tended to Shenzhen’s end. The Rays’ Woods would see the box early for hooking, but Markham couldn’t convert. Kelly Gribbons had a great chance as she passed through the Shenzhen crease. Another chance on the advantage came when Madison Woo went off for delay of game. Fortino and Richards, and Rattray and Jones would also combine for quality scoring chances during the period, but it would end with no score. The play was very fast (something that continued the rest of the game) and the Thunder doubled the Rays in shots.

The second began with Howe making a great save off her helmet, sending the puck out of play into the netting. The goaltenders traded great saves again as the scoring chances continued. McParland sent the puck just wide of a yawning net, Bach would get a chance up high on Räty, and Matteucci had a string of blocks to foil the Rays’ plans. Jue would step up on Stacey, and would be sent to the box late in the period.

With a few seconds left on the power play for the Thunder, both teams came into the third period looking to make a mark. Chances were exchanged as the players flew all over the ice. McParland would be sent to the box just over halfway through the frame for slashing, and the Miller would make it 4-on-4 play under a minute later taking a slashing penalty of her own after sending Bozek’s gloves and stick to the ice. Thirty seconds later, Rattray went hard to Shenzhen’s net and was cited for goalie interference. Luckily Markham was able to evade trouble during the 4-on-3. It wasn’t until Bunton took a goalie interference penalty with less than five minutes to go that the Thunder finally beat Räty.

Bozek shot the puck towards the glass above the net from along the boards, the puck would pop out to the right side of the net where Bach turned and roofed it on Räty, through the smallest space between her head and the goal post. Howe would hang on for the shutout and the win! Markham remains undefeated in regulation at the Thornhill Community Centre since October 21, 2017.