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Inferno Report: Calgary splits opening weekend with Montreal; Fan960 to broadcast four games

It was a busy week for the Calgary Inferno. With their season-opening weekend underway and some new additions to the team, it was a highly anticipated start to the season for the Inferno against Les Canadiennes. There were a solid 18 Olympians on the ice and some of the highest-touted college athletes.

Let’s check out the past week in Inferno news.

Four Nations Cup

The Four Nations Cup is an annual ice hockey tournament including the top female hockey players from four national teams: Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the United States.

Team Canada released their 23-player roster Thursday morning for the Four Nations Cup held in Saskatoon. Five Inferno players made the roster: D Katelyn Gosling, D Halli Krzyzaniak, F Brianne Jenner, F Rebecca Johnston, and F Blayre Turnbull. Jenner, Johnston, and Turnbull were all part of Canada’s silver medal winning team at the Olympics this year while Krzyzaniak was the Inferno’s first pre-draft signing this past offseason.

Canada has won 14 gold medals and they’re aiming for their first since 2014.

Team USA has yet to release their roster, but we can probably assume that D Kacey Bellamy, F Brianna Decker, and G Alex Rigsby will all make it, all of whom were part of USA’s gold medal winning team at the 2018 Olympics. USA has won the gold for the past three years. F Venla Hovi will also most likely make Team Finland, another roster yet to be announced.

The Inferno will be hosting a viewing party for the Four Nations Cup gold medal viewing party on Nov. 10. Tickets can be found here.

Season-opening weekend

The Inferno and Les Canadiennes played two games at Place Bell this weekend, Les Canadiennes’ new home. Heading into the weekend, the Inferno were on a six-game losing streak against Les Canadiennes and have only won four games in Montreal.

Saturday

Saturday’s game started with some clear insight into head coach Shannon Miller’s plans for the season. For what’s known as a classic Miller move, the “torpedo”, she likes to employ four forwards and one defenceman at times throughout the game. In this case, usually, Johnston was the fourth forward. It was a little risky against Les Canadiennes considering their forward group, but it’s worked for Miller.

Calgary came out strong to start their season off. They had possession for most of the first 10 minutes of the game and Montreal was quite sloppy in the neutral zone. At 7:43 into the game, Decker got around rookie Taylor Willard and went top-shelf to open the scoring for the year. Welcome to the CWHL, Taylor. That was Decker’s first Inferno goal and she was clearly the best player on the ice in the first period; I counted at least three shots from her alone of the Inferno’s eight shots.

In the second half of the period, Montreal answered back, with a goal from Maude Gelinas. It was 1-1 15:07 into the game with Gelinas scoring her first CWHL goal.

The Fabs came out much stronger in the second period and Calgary wasn’t winning any puck battles in the first few minutes. At 8:12, Calgary took their first penalty which was rather scary since Montreal has an absolutely terrifying powerplay unit consisting of Marie-Philip Poulin, Hilary Knight, Melodie Daoust, Karell Emard, and Erin Ambrose. But Calgary managed to kill off that penalty.

Calgary seemed to have more jump after successfully killing off their first penalty, but seemed like they only had about one or two high-danger chances until the end of the period.

Calgary took a second penalty late in the period and this kill was much more successful than the last one. They barely even gave Montreal the opportunity to set up and the period finished scoreless.

The third period was more evenly played with some end-to-end action. Montreal started off with a few sloppy plays in the neutral zone, but otherwise, it was pretty even. Montreal had a couple two-on-one breakaways, but that’s also the risk with Miller’s torpedo system. With 5:59 left in the game, Sarah Lefort made it 2-1 Fabs, resulting in Miller taking a timeout.

As soon as the players got back in the game, Johnston got a breakaway and pinged one off the post. The Inferno went on the powerplay with 2:52 left in the game and Rigsby was forced to make a shorthanded save. The Inferno couldn’t tie up the game, making this seven straight losses against Montreal.

Since leaving the Inferno, goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer has turned out to be Calgary’s kryptonite. She was now 5-0-0 against them and has never allowed more than two goals against.

Let’s head to Sunday’s game, where Masch would clearly start.

Sunday

It was a little harder to keep up with Sunday’s game since it wasn’t streamed on the CWHL’s site, but I’ll do my best with what knowledge I have.

Jenner had a good shot early on which Maschmeyer saved. This time, Montreal opened the scoring with a goal from Daoust. The Fabs then had to kill off a penalty and the period finished 1-0 Montreal.

The Inferno came out much stronger in the second period. Twenty-six seconds into the period, Jenner shot it on goal and she didn’t miss this time. Forty-six seconds later, Rebecca Leslie made it 2-1 with her first CWHL goal. To add insult to injury, the Fabs took a penalty about 45 seconds after, but they managed to successfully kill it off.

Around the midway mark of the second period, Poulin had a great chance, but Rigsby brought her A-game. Shortly after, Calgary went on the penalty kill, another one they managed to kill off. Within the final minute of the period, Calgary took another penalty and Katia Clement-Heydra hit one off the post, but the Inferno retained the lead.

Montreal started the third period on the powerplay, but Calgary successfully killed it off again. They killed off all four Montreal powerplays this past weekend, which is quite impressive seeing how they were going against arguably one of the best powerplay units in the CWHL.

Montreal pushed hard in the third period, but couldn’t come up with another goal. Johnston added an empty-net goal to help Calgary cap off a 3-1 win over Montreal. No more losing-streak against the Fabs!

Last season, the Inferno didn’t get their first regulation loss until January (against the Fabs), so starting off their season with a loss wasn’t ideal, but at least they were able to answer back on Sunday.

Sportsnet 960

Adding on to Sunday’s excitement, the Inferno had a great announcement Monday afternoon.

The Fan 960 will be covering one game a month throughout the season and will also be creating a segment called Inside the Inferno, which will air on Saturdays to add on to their Hockey TalkInside the Inferno will be a 30-minute show that will feature stories about the Inferno in the hopes of giving the Inferno more profile with their audience and increase women’s hockey coverage.

This will be the first time that a commercial radio station in North America will do live play-by-play of the CWHL.

“This is a significant development for our team and our league being able to broadcast our games to a wider audience through mainstream media,” said Inferno GM Kristen Hagg. “We, of course, want fans physically at our games, but this is an opportunity to reach new fans and introduce them to our players and our game.”

A significant development indeed, Haggs.