Thunder Sweep Through Boston On Way To Playoffs

All photo credits to Teri Di-Lauro

The last series of the regular season held special meaning for both teams. For the Blades, it was a chance to finish their season at home, looking to go out on a high note. For the Thunder, if they earned one point the team would clinch the final spot in the playoffs.

Game One

Erica Howe would get the call, facing off against Lauren Dahm. Also in the starting lineup? All three of the Thunder’s Olympians – Laura Stacey and Laura Fortino making their season debuts, and captain Jocelyne Larocque.

Markham came hard – fast. Dahm was forced to make a string of saves, but less than five minutes in, Stacey would strike for her first goal with the assists going to Nicole Kosta and Dania Simmonds.

The Thunder continued to pepper Boston with shots and rebound attempts, while Howe had to stay sharp to turn aside any advances coming her way. Kosta was called for tripping, and we got the first special teams showdown of the weekend. The penalty killers did their job, and the Thunder returned to even strength.Shortly after, Jamie Lee Rattray sprinted into the offensive zone, and put the puck behind Dahm.

The rest of the period saw a swap on the skater advantage as Boston was called for delay of game, and Bozek was cited for body checking. The period would end 2-0 in favour of the Thunder.

 

After killing the remaining eight seconds on the Bozek penalty, Markham continued their dominance in the Blades’ zone, drawing a penalty. Nothing materialized, but Ellie Seedhouse connected with Devon Skeats to create some magic and add another goal to the Thunder total.

Howe once again had to be quick and make great saves to keep the Blades out of her net. Taylor Woods went to the box for roughing, but Larocque was able to spring Rattray for her second of the game to negate Boston’s advantage. This goal would also mark Rattray’s 100th career point in the CWHL.

 

The third period saw Markham running on all cylinders – Kosta notched her first goal with the Thunder, with assists to Jenna McParland and Stacey. This would force the Blades to take their timeout, and make a goalie change, putting in Amanda Carridi. Dru Burns was called for a trip, sending Markham back to the power play. Rattray and McIntosh got the puck to the front of the net, where Kristen Richards was waiting to put it home.

Stacey would net her second goal of the night with the assistance of McParland, then she and Kristen Barbara would be awarded helpers on a great shot from the point from Dania Simmonds, making the score 8-0.

Markham would be called for too many skaters, and Howe would work to keep Boston from getting on the board, making a great glove save. Becca King would take a roughing penalty at the end of the game, but Howe would earn the shutout and the Thunder would secure that playoff spot!

 

Game Two

The Blades would come out strong to start the game after holding a special puck drop to raise awareness for Lupus. This game saw Liz Knox guarding the Thunder goal, and Dahm back in net for Boston. The Blades’ passion couldn’t be contained, and Burns would make her way to the box for tripping. Kosta would get a beautiful unassisted goal, marking her second in as many games.

The teams would battle along the boards for most of the opening frame, trading chances at add to the scoresheet, but Knox and Dahm had other plans. With just under two minutes left in the period, Skeats (roughing) and  Sato Kakuchi (holding) would be handed coincidentals.

 

The second opening with the end of 4-on-4 action, and Knox standing tall. Kakuchi would head back to the box for another hold, but Larocque would sit for hooking about a minute later, sending us to more 4-on-4. Less than 30 seconds later, Bozek was called for a slash, giving the Blades the advantage and lots of open ice. Kosta went on a short handed breakaway, but Dahm made a huge save, that Knox followed up with one of her own! Unfortunately, Richards was called for cross checking and the Blade took advantage, tying the game off the stick of Kate Leary, assisted by Burns and Megan Grieves. Penalties continued to come fast, with coincidentals to Rattray (Holding) and Kristina Brown (roughing), then Burns sitting for a hook giving Markham a chance at 4-on-3 play. The pressure was kept on Dahm, who made a string of amazing saves as all players returned to the ice, keeping the tie intact to end the frame.

Not to be out-done, Knox was able to snatch a bobbling puck out of the air early in the third. McIntosh made a great outlet pass to Rattray who took the puck in deep and backhanded it past Dahm to get the go-ahead goal.

Burns was then sent to the box for body checking, followed by Richards for a high stick. Neither team would score on the advantage. A few minutes after Richards returned to the ice, Fortino took a shot from the point, Rattray went after the rebound but was knocked down and couldn’t get the shot she wanted. Luckily, Richards was standing on the doorstep and slid the puck home to secure the victory for Markham.