While the Calgary Inferno had a couple weeks off for the Four Nations Cup, we’ve still got plenty to go over.
Let’s check out the past week in Inferno news.
Four Nations Cup
Nine Inferno players made it to the Four Nations Cup, representing three different countries.
Finland: F Venla Hovi
USA: F Brianna Decker, D Kacey Bellamy, G Alex Rigsby
Canada: F Brianne Jenner, F Rebecca Johnston, F Blayre Turnbull, D Katelyn Gosling, D Halli Krzyzaniak
After the preliminary rounds, Finland and Sweden played for the bronze medal while Canada and USA competed for the gold medal. Heading into the final games, Johnston was leading all Inferno skaters with five points, including a four-point game in Canada’s 6-1 win over Sweden.
In the bronze medal game, Sweden was up 2-1 heading into the third period when Finland scored three goals in the span of four minutes and four seconds to win 4-2 and the bronze medal.
The gold medal game was quite familiar seeing how it’s usually Canada vs USA at the Four Nations Cup. The Americans have won the last three years and it was clear why. They were much faster than Canada and unfortunately, Shannon Szabados wasn’t her usual brick wall self and allowed five goals on 23 shots. Canada replaced her with Emerance Maschmeyer after Szabados allowed the fifth goal less than a minute into the third period. While Masch only saw two shots the rest of the game, Rigsby was playing her typical game and only let in two goals on 25 shots to help the Americans win 5-2.
Some were surprised that the Americans decided to go with Rigsby in net over Maddie Rooney, but going up against five of her teammates was definitely an advantage they weren’t going to let slip away.
After this week, all nine Inferno skaters at the Four Nations Cup walked away with medals, now giving Bellamy her millionth medal. And I’m only slightly exaggerating. Bellamy just won her fourth straight Four Nations Cup gold medal, and on top of that, has one Olympic gold medal, two Olympic silver medals, seven World Championship gold medals, one World Championship silver medal, two Clarkson Cups, and one Isobel Cup. She’s also most definitely won more medals at the Four Nations Cup, but the US roster isn’t available before 2015 and Four Nations Cup medals aren’t tracked, unfortunately.
While it was disappointing for Canada’s fourth straight loss, it’s not the worst thing in the world. USA was running with probably their best roster while Canada likes to use this opportunity as more of a development type of deal, giving some players (like Gosling) a chance to compete at an international level where they wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise.
Early season thoughts
It’s only been six games but it’s enough to form some early season thoughts.
Brianna Decker’s a puck-handling monster
If CWHL stats were tracked, Decker’s corsi would be out of this world. When she has the puck, nobody can take it away from her and she’s constantly winning puck battles. It’s no wonder she was a big factor in Team USA’s first gold medal in 20 years this past Olympic games and was named an MVP at last year’s World Championship. She currently leads all Inferno skaters with four goals and it’s an absolute treat to be able to watch one of the best players in the world play live.
Zoe Hickel may lead in assists again
Last season with the Kunlun Red Star, Zoe Hickel led the league in assists and it’s now clear why. She has great hockey IQ and always seems to know exactly where to pass and where everyone is on the ice. She currently has seven assists in six games with only Cayla Mercer having more at eight (but she has four games on hand). She’s fast, has great puck movement, and it’s also an absolute treat watching her play.
In Shannon we trust
Shannon Miller has been known to employ a “torpedo” system, where she runs with four forwards and one defender. In the Inferno’s season-opener against Les Canadiennes, it was somewhat worrisome and a bit of a surprise she did that seeing how Les Canadiennes probably have the best forward group in the league. Because of Miller’s torpedo system, it does cause a few two-on-one breakaways against, but that’s the risk she’s willing to take.
Since that season-opening loss, the Inferno have won five straight and have been on an offensive roll, scoring 25 goals in those five wins. I guess this is why she’s a world-renowned coach and the rest of us are sitting here worried about her system.
What’s coming up
After a two-week break, the Inferno are back in action this weekend against the Toronto Furies who have most recently lost 7-0 to Les Canadiennes.
The next Inferno home game is Saturday, Nov. 24 against Les Canadiennes. Tickets can be found here.