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Inferno Report: Winning series against Markham; Shannon Miller steps down

The Calgary Inferno had another successful weekend against the Markham Thunder. But before that, there has been some news surrounding the team.

Shannon Miller steps down

World-renowned women’s hockey coach, Shannon Miller, has stepped down as head coach of the Calgary Inferno. The Inferno brought her in the offseason after she spent 16 years coaching in the NCAA and it made headlines surrounding women’s hockey.

The team didn’t say much about the event, but left the public with this quote from GM Kristen Hagg:

“The Inferno thank Shannon for her contributions to the program during her time with the team and wish her the best in her future endeavours.”

This news completely took the hockey world by surprise. No one, and I mean NO ONE, saw this coming. But on to some lighter news.

All-Star announcements

The CWHL released the names of the players who made the All-Star rosters this season. The Inferno have nine players going, the most among any team. The Worcester Blades, who have yet to win a game this season, only have one player going, leaving some people somewhat frustrated.

The Inferno players heading to the ASG are G Alex Rigsby, D Kacey Bellamy, D Katelyn Gosling, D Brigette Lacquette, F Brianna Decker, F Zoe Hickel, F Brianne Jenner, F Rebecca Johnston, and F Blayre Turnbull.

The All-Star game along with the Clarkson Cup are in partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs who will be hosting them at Scotiabank Arena. Both will also be broadcasting live on Sportsnet. Voting for the All-Star captains started Monday morning at 10 a.m. MT and can be found here; tickets are already on sale and can be found here.

The ASG will be held on Sunday, Jan. 20.

Now, let’s get into the games this weekend.

Saturday

The Inferno and the Thunder just played each other last weekend where they split the weekend series, but the Inferno’s loss came in a shootout. That was the inferno’s first loss since their season-opener. Turnbull also didn’t travel with the team this weekend for maintenance reasons

On Saturday, Jenner took an early penalty less than a minute into the fame resulting in a Thunder powerplay – the best powerplay in the league. And it was clear why. From Jenna McParland to Megan Bozek and Jess Jones placing her stick at the right place, it became a 1-0 game for the Thunder.

About five minutes later, Jenner drove to the net passing the Thunder defenders, got right up to Erica Howe and got the puck past her on a backhand shot to tie the game.

After that tying goal, the Inferno came back with lots of momentum and really tightened up their defensive game, allowing just five shots on goal for the Thunder the whole period. Later in the frame, the Inferno had an odd-(wo)man rush by that line again: Rebecca Leslie was patient with the puck, and passed it back to Jenner on the backhand. She wristed one past Howe for the 2-1 lead.

The second period started with an early chance for the Inferno but it hit the post. This was then followed by a great chance for the Thunder, but Rigsby came up big to keep it a one-goal game. Following that chance, the Inferno took a penalty, so they were shorthanded again against the top powerplay team in the league. But the Inferno were aggressive on the PK and weren’t letting the Thunder get quality chances, so this remained a one-goal game.

The Inferno then had their chance on the powerplay with the best opportunity coming from Decker, but this PP went scoreless. The Inferno had two more chances on the powerplay in the second period, but their powerplay hasn’t looked that great all season long, and they went scoreless.

Decker had a glorious chance in the dying seconds of the period, but the period finished with the same score it started with, 2-1 for the Inferno.

The third period didn’t have a whole lot going in the first half until Zoe Hickel passed the puck over to Decker for a great chance, but it went wide. With seven minutes left in the period, the Inferno took a penalty. And then they took another penalty five seconds later, so they had to kill off a 5on3 for 1:55 against, again, the best powerplay team in the league.

It was nerve-racking and the Thunder spent quite a bit of time in the Inferno’s zone, but they couldn’t get quality chances and spent too much time passing the puck around the perimeter, so this one went scoreless in an opportune chance for the Thunder.

Seconds after the 5on3 was killed, Zoe Hickel made it 3-1 to somewhat signify the lead late in the game. While the Thunder had some chances late after taking out Howe for the extra attacker, this game finished 3-1 for the Inferno.

Sunday

Sunday’s game was a bit more fun with what seemed like more energized teams. Though the Inferno didn’t play as great of a defensive game as I’m sure they would have liked, they still came out with the W.

It started with a quick goal by McParland who scored her fourth on the year. Shortly after that, Venla Hovi had a great chance all alone in front of Liz Knox but she was turned away. A couple minutes later, Leslie tied the game up for her sixth of the year.

With less than two minutes to go in the first period, Victoria Bach gave the Thunder their lead back only to have it taken away with the tying goal by Johnston just 47 seconds later. This period finished 2-2 for both teams with lots of back-and-forth action.

Early in the second period, what looked like another Johnston goal was actually tipped by Decker who was right in front of Knox to tip it in. Doesn’t matter who, because the Inferno got their first lead of the game at this point.

The Thunder then had two back-to-back powerplays, and although they had some chances, they both went scoreless. Later in the period, Leslie scored her second goal of the game to give the Inferno a 4-2 lead. After that goal, Rigsby had to be sharp and made a great pad save on the Thunder.

A couple minutes later, Jenner had a rocket shot past Knox to give the Inferno a 5-2 period to finish the frame off.

Early in the third period, the Inferno finally went on their first powerplay of the day, but as I mentioned before, their powerplay hasn’t been that successful this season, and it went scoreless.

A couple minutes later, Gosling drove to the net to give the Inferno a 6-2 lead and scored her second goal of the season. Just three minutes later, Bellamy passed the puck over to Gosling, and she shot the puck down to Decker, who got one past Knox. That’s a touchdown of goals!

The Thunder had another powerplay shortly after that goal, but it was clear they were somewhat defeated being down five goals and there wasn’t much happening for them. This game finished 7-2 for the Inferno as they continue to lead the standings with 25 points in 14 games.

What’s coming up

The Inferno come back home this weekend to cap the calendar year off with two games against the Toronto Furies. Tickets can be found here.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Wow! That terse announcement by Hagg reminds me of the announcements at my former workplace when employees left (or had to leave) on less than cordial terms! I’d like to see FN do some investigate journalism on this one, delve in and find out why the top team in the league and the legendary coach suddenly parted ways. There’s a big story there waiting to be told. Let’s hear it.

    It is far more likely that I will support women’s pro hockey if they would rename the horribly named Clarkson Cup. The Clarkson Cup was named after the most corrupt, arrogant, shameless and laziest GG in living memory. Clarkson was a disaster as GG as she embraced all the perks of the office without wanting to put in the work. She was the epitome of a garbage Liberal patronage appointment and soon became the fattest pig gorging from the public trough. Her tenure as GG was frankly embarrassing to Canada and Canadians.

    There are literally thousands of more deserving people this cup could be named after. Please make the change as soon as possible and eliminate the scourge of Clarkson from women’s pro hockey.

    • HAL MacInnis

      Every time you wrote “GG”, I kept seeing Glen Gulutzan… “The Clarkson Cup was named after the most corrupt, arrogant, shameless and laziest Glen Gulutzan in living memory.”

      I love Mad Libs! 😉

      • BlueMoonNigel

        If Gully has even the faintest connection with women’s hockey in Canada, I will ecstatically scratch Clarkson’s name off of the cup and joyously chisel Gully’s on.