As Ramina detailed in her Inferno report, the team is absolutely rolling. The Inferno own the second highest winning percentage, tied with the Montreal Canadiennes, and have won seven straight games.
On a CWHL roster, change is constant, especially when one factors in Olympic centralization. A strong leadership group is essential for continued success, like the success that the Inferno have enjoyed over the past few seasons. One of the cornerstones of that group is forward Erica Kromm.
Currently playing in her sixth season with the Inferno, Kromm is the all-time franchise leader in games played with 151 following four seasons and 115 games played with Brown University of the NCAA. When asked to reflect on her career so far, Kromm said:
Each year has brought new and different opportunities to grow as a player and teammate on the Inferno. Each year brings a different role and thus a chance to grow in a different way. I think I’ve become a smarter and more strong willed hockey player. I grew a lot last season in that regard, which I try to continue to do this season … I’m mostly excited about the opportunity to play with such fantastic hockey players. The higher the level of play on our team, the better we all get.
As a veteran player, Kromm has helped welcome several new faces to the CWHL and this year is no exception. When asked about how the rookies have broken in this season, Kromm said:
I’m impressed with all of our rookies this season. They are all extremely hard working and talented individuals. Most importantly, their attitudes are positive. It’s great to see for our league.
While some of the players may be CWHL rookies, not all of them are new to the professional game. For example, 31-year-old Inferno rookie Venla Hovi is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and a three-time World Championship bronze medalist, adding to an already formidable group of Inferno players with international experience.
Among the group of new, experienced faces is head coach Shannon Miller, who is in her first year coaching with the Inferno. Kromm described Miller’s strategy heading into this season here:
Our approach this season as a team is to be solid in the D-zone so that we can be offensive in the O-zone. Our system takes advantage of the highly skilled players we have on our team. The coaching staff understands the level we need to compete at in this league and it is reflected in how our players have played thus far in the season.
On that topic, last season, the Inferno took a bit of a step back during the regular season, losing seven games for the first time in four years. Despite the fact that the Inferno have had overwhelming regular season success over the last few seasons, the Inferno have only captured the Clarkson Cup once.
Finally, I asked Kromm about the impact of the Olympic returnees and how the Inferno will attempt to stay fresh and focused for the playoffs without becoming complacent in the regular season:
I like to look back on last season as a whole, rather than in parts. We lost in the semifinals in the third overtime of the third game in the series, with our two leading scorers out of the lineup. How we ended up doing and fighting at the end was something we were very proud of. How we ended was indicative of how we performed what we believed in throughout the season as a whole.Every team in the league had a far different outcome than previous years (Montreal, for example, lost in two games in semis against Markham). The league during Olympic years is always different and has a variety of different outcomes versus years when Olympians are in the league. Calgary and Montreal typically get a good number of Olympians back, which helps us in the non-Olympic years.
As far as staying fresh this season goes, I’d say we are focusing sticking to our systems. Coach Miller has emphasized sorting out the kinks and baring down now to execute as the season goes on. This will for sure help us stay consistent all season.
The Inferno are gearing up for a massive back-to-back set of games against the Les Canadiennes Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 25 at WinSport. The Inferno and Canadiennes gave each other their only losses of the season when they split the season’s first two games back in October. This will be a pair of games between the two best rosters in the CWHL with an immense amount of star power. You can grab tickets for either of those games here.