The Calgary Inferno weren’t supposed to have that busy of a week but not everything goes as planned.
The Inferno played just one game this past week on a rare Tuesday evening against the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays. This was a big one for the Inferno because, with a win, they would clinch a playoff spot. However, a loss could give Les Canadiennes the opportunity to do better in terms of points-percentage and, for the first time since the season-opening weekend, surpass them in the standings.
The first period started with the Rays opening up the scoring just before the midway mark from Stephanie Anderson. With a feed from Michelle Ng on that play, that was her first assist of the season. The Inferno answered back less than five minutes later, right after killing off a penalty, as they were on a two-on-one breakaway and Brianna Decker tied things up.
Two minutes later, with under five to go, Hannah Miller stole the puck and made it 2-1 for the Rays. The Inferno killed off another penalty late in the period to finish the frame down a goal.
The Inferno came out with a lot more jump in the second period. Less than two minutes in, the Rays took a penalty. Late on the powerplay, the first powerplay unit capitalized with Zoe Hickel’s fifth goal of the season. Thirty seconds later, Brianne Jenner gave the Inferno their first lead of the game with her 14th goal of the season, which continues to lead the team and puts her just four points short of her career high (28).
The rest of the period saw four more penalties, one by the Inferno and three by the Rays, all of which were successfully killed off.
With about six minutes to go in the period, Rebecca Leslie scored her eighth goal of the year, putting her up to 21 points and second in rookie scoring in the league.
The third period saw some high energy and good chances for the Rays, mainly due to the Inferno taking three penalties, but Alex Rigsby was sharp and all three penalties were killed off. Despite the penalties, it was quite a back and forth game with both goalies putting up good efforts. The Inferno finished this one off with an empty net goal by Kacey Bellamy to end it 5-2.
With an assist on Bellamy’s goal, Rebecca Johnston tied her career high with 20.
This was a big win for the Inferno as they outshot the Rays 40-26 and clinched a playoff spot, the first team to do so this season at the three-quarter mark. The good news for the Inferno as well is that Les Canadiennes lost to the Markham Thunder on Saturday evening, putting them at two points back from the Inferno with the same number of games played.
The Inferno need just one more win to clinch home ice.
As it was announced by Hockey Canada a couple of months ago, Canada and USA’s women’s hockey teams will be going head-to-head in a three-game rivalry series in February with two games in Ontario and one in Detroit. Both rosters have been released and many Inferno players made it.
For USA, it’s goaltender Rigsby, defender Bellamy, and forwards Decker and Zoe Hickel. For Canada, it’s defenders Katelyn Gosling, Halli Krzyzaniak, and Brigette Lacquette, and forwards Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Rebecca Leslie, and Blayre Turnbull.
NHL All-Star Skills Competition
This past weekend was the NHL All-Star weekend. On Friday during the skills competition, the NHL invited four female hockey players to demo the skills: Kendall Coyne Schofield, Renata Fast, and two Inferno members, Brianna Decker and Rebecca Johnston. However, with an injury to Nathan MacKinnon, Coyne Schofield took his spot in the fastest skater competition, becoming the first woman to compete in the skills competition, and managed to beat Clayton Keller’s time and was only one second slower than Connor McDavid, who’s a foot taller than her and does this full-time.
Johnston demoed the puck control competition which only Sportsnet showed, leaving NBC viewers a little disappointed. Decker demoed the premier passing competition, which some argue is the toughest one at the skills competition, to which no network showed, leaving fans frustrated. But due to a fan recording the event and posting it on Twitter, many were able to see it.
BRIANNA DECKER IS A GODDESS
— Abby @ all star (@ArrowsandDemons) January 26, 2019
And from that video, some were able to determine that Decker completed the event in just 66 seconds – three seconds faster than the winner of the event, Leon Draisaitl. This sparked the hashtag #PayDecker to float around social media and it became a Canada-wide trend Saturday morning and early afternoon, along with her name trending. Since the winner in each competition got a cheque for $25,000, many were arguing that Decker, who could use it much more than Draisaitl could, deserved that money.
Well, that worked.
After silence from the NHL, CCM Hockey took it upon themselves and said they would pay Decker the money she deserves.
— CCM Hockey (@CCMHockey) January 26, 2019
I guess complaining on social media does work sometimes, hey?
What’s coming up
The Inferno return to action this weekend in Montreal as they set to face Les Canadiennes with four big points for both teams up for grabs. This weekend could very well determine who finishes in first place.