The Calgary Inferno finally returned back home this weekend for another weekend series against Les Canadiennes. With the battle for sole possession of first place in reach, this weekend had a big four points on the line. Let’s check out how the Inferno did.
Saturday morning, Montreal announced that head coach Dany Brunet stepped down due to personal reasons and Caroline Ouellette would be the interim coach until further notice. So Ouellette got her first head coaching experience against a strong Calgary Inferno team… rough.
Heading into this weekend, both teams were at 7-1-0-0 and their lone losses came against each other in the season-opening weekend. The Inferno were on a seven-game win streak while Les Canadiennes were coming off of four straight shutouts, but they knew it wouldn’t be that easy against this Inferno team.
Unsurprisingly, Montreal went with Emerance Maschmeyer in net. Heading into Saturday’s game, she was on a 10-period shutout streak and since leaving the Inferno, has always played well against them.
Saturday’s game saw a strong start for the Inferno which set the pace for the rest of the game. It also seemed like head coach Shannon Miller wasn’t doing her “Torpedo” system (four forwards, one defender) as much as she normally does, but I guess she learned after the season-opener when Montreal had way too many two-on-one breakaways.
Around the eight-minute mark, Melodie Daoust and Ann-Sophie Bettez had a two-on-one breakaway against Calgary and Alex Rigsby came up big, as she normally does. Following suit, the Inferno got the puck and went the other way. Louise Warren found Kaitlin Willoughby coming up from behind, passed it over to her, and Willow scored her first CWHL goal.
Not even two minutes later, with Montreal applying pressure in the offensive zone, Brianna Decker managed to clear it and get it over to Katelyn Gosling who drop passed it back to Rebecca Johnston and she made it a two-goal game.
The Inferno didn’t let up and continued with the pressure. Later in the period, Brigette Lacquette shot it from the point towards the net, as other players tried shooting it and Maschmeyer tried making some saves and clearing the puck, Lacquette snuck up and got the rebound to give the Inferno a 3-0 lead after 20.
It came as a bit of a surprise that Maschmeyer allowed three goals in one period and on just 12 shots, but credit to the Inferno for making those chances happen.
Montreal came out much better to start the second period, maintaining better possession of the puck and keeping the pressure in the O-zone. And it paid off. Ann-Sophie Bettez shot the puck which bounced off of Rigsby and into Melodie Daoust’s skate, which she then kicked up onto her stick and got it into the net.
About five minutes later, that line did it again from Daoust over to Bettez who sniped it top-shelf. The Inferno definitely came back in the second half of the period with a powerplay and a few other scoring chances, but this period finished with just the two Montreal goals.
Late in the second period, the Inferno took a penalty so they started the third period on the penalty kill. On this PP for Montreal, Hilary Knight attempted a pass to Erin Ambrose at the blue line. She somewhat fuddled with the puck and Johnston took advantage, which created a two-on-one breakaway with Brianne Jenner. Johnston attempted to pass it over to Jenner, but it bounced off of Ambrose’s glove as she tried blocking the pass and it went into the net.
The Inferno killed off another penalty this period and Rigsby came up big for the team, especially within the last five minutes to keep it a two-goal game. The Inferno finished with a 4-2 win over Montreal and outshot them 31-21.
Sunday’s game started with some good pressure by Montreal and they had a great chance just seconds in, but Rigsby did a good job of finding the puck and holding onto it. Minutes later, Willoughby had a great steal in the o-zone and almost recorded the first goal in both games this weekend, but it was stopped.
About seven minutes into the period, Bettez gave Montreal the first lead of the game with a feed from Marie-Philip Poulin. After this goal, the Inferno somewhat woke up and had a few good chances and even had a powerplay, but they couldn’t get anything past Maschmeyer.
With about six minutes left in the period, that Montreal top line did it again and Poulin made it 2-0. The Inferno had another few good chances in the last few minutes of the period and had another powerplay, but again, Maschmeyer stopped everything coming her way.
While Les Canadiennes were leading 2-0 after the first, the Inferno outshot them 13-7.
In the second period, Kacey Bellamy took an early penalty resulting in the Inferno heading on the PK. But, like Saturday, the Inferno were aggressive on the PK and they managed to score another shorthanded goal from Halli Krzyzaniak.
Montreal not scoring on a powerplay is already a great feat for Calgary since they have the best top PP unit in the league. But the fact that Calgary scored two shorthanded goals this weekend against them was an even better feat and that SHG gave them the energy to continue the comeback.
As the period went on, Bellamy had two great chances, both were rocket shots but both never made it to the net. Right before the midway mark of the period, Zoe Hickel managed to tie the game for her first goal of the season.
It was a fast-paced game for the remainder of the period with a lot of back-and-forth action. This period finished 2-2 with the Inferno outshooting Les Canadiennes 12-5.
The third period wasn’t as fast-paced as the second period was as both teams were playing a tighter and stronger defensive game. Both teams had powerplays but neither could capitalize. In the last few minutes of the period, the Inferno had a great chance on Masch which then went the other way and Rigsby came up big yet again.
With just 25.8 seconds left in the game, as I was emotionally preparing myself for overtime, Blayre Turnbull scored the game-winner after a few chances on Masch with hers finally getting past her. It was an incredible way to get the come-from-behind win and a big four points were on the line.
The Inferno are now on a nine-game win streak and are first in the standings with 18 points and a 9-1-0-0 record.
With both teams only losing to each other, it now seems highly likely that the Inferno will finish the season at the top of the standings (*knock on wood*), but Montreal will most likely finish in second. Which is great news because that means they won’t have to face each other in the semis but terrible news because that means it’ll probably be these two in the Clarkson Cup. I mean, it’ll be a great game, but terrible for my emotional state.
What’s coming up
The Inferno are back home this weekend to face off against the Markham Thunder. Tickets can be found here. Saturday’s game will be at the Max Bell Centre, while Sunday’s will be in Cochrane.