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Inferno Report: Dominating final home game of regular season

The Calgary Inferno played their final home game of the regular season against the Worcester Blades in what was yet another dominating victory over them.

The Inferno and Blades were supposed to play two games this weekend to close off the Inferno’s regular season at home. However, due to a flight cancellation, the Blades weren’t going to make it in time for Saturday’s game, so the league decided to make Sunday’s game worth four points, something not everyone agreed with.

If this was any other team, it most likely would have been rescheduled. But seeing how the Blades have zero wins so far this season and everyone pretty much already knew the outcome of their games against the Inferno, the league decided to just make Sunday’s game worth those four points.

Sunday

The Inferno played in their annual You Can Play game, in partnership with the You Can Play project.

They came out strong to start the first period, as everyone anticipated they would. Less than three minutes in, Dakota Woodworth made it 1-0 for the Inferno as Laura Dostaler got her first point of the season. Already in the first four minutes of the game, the Inferno were outshooting the Blades 7-0.

The Blades finally registered their first shot on goal at the 13:13 mark, but were being outshot 10-1 at that point. Moments later, Rebecca Johnston had a breakaway and made a beauty spin-o-rama play to get around the defenders and get a shot off, but couldn’t get it past Jetta Rackleff.

With under two to play in the first, the Inferno went on their first powerplay of the game – and it only took 20 seconds for them to capitalize with a goal from Brianna Decker. The period finished 2-0 as the Inferno outshot the Blades 16-4 and after that second goal, Rackleff needed some attending to from the trainer but finished the period off.

Mariah Fujimagari started between the pipes for the Blades to start the second period as it seemed like Rackleff was in too much discomfort to continue.

It only took about a minute for the Inferno to add on to their lead with a goal by Brianne Jenner. Four minutes later, Jenner scored her second of the game to give the Inferno the 4-0 lead. Just 41 seconds later, Blayre Turnbull made it 5-0 as the Inferno took a penalty right after that goal.

The Inferno won the initial faceoff and right away, Rebecca Leslie went down the ice to score a quick shorthanded goal to bring the Inferno up to a 6-0 lead. The rest of the kill was successful. Over the next few minutes, both teams were exchanging penalties before we saw some 4-on-4 action. With more ice, we knew we’d see Venla Hovi get more ice time. She made a great play over to Zoe Hickel who scored her sixth goal of the year and the Inferno’s seventh goal of the day.

This period finished 7-0 for the Inferno as they outshot the Blades 35-11. Yeesh.

The third period saw about a million penalties. Okay, it saw nine, which is basically a million. The Blades took two early penalties so the Inferno had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:15. During that powerplay, Leslie got on the board again for the Inferno’s eighth goal of the day just three minutes into the period. Penalties continued to be exchanged between both teams before we saw a decent amount of 5-on-5 at the midway mark.

During that, the Inferno had two great chances, but both times hit the post. With under four to go in the game, the Inferno got another 5-on-3 powerplay. Only 14 seconds into the two-woman-advantage, Turnbull scored her second of the game and the Inferno’s ninth of the day.

A minute later, while still on a powerplay, Decker made it 10-0 for the Inferno to finish this successful final home game of the regular season. The Inferno outshot the Blades 50-13.

The Inferno had four different skaters record multi-goal games, seven players record multi-point games, and 17 skaters make it onto the scoresheet on Sunday. In fact, only two skaters didn’t (Erica Kromm and Brigette Lacquette).

Annie Belanger recorded her fourth shutout of the season in just her eighth game. The Inferno shut out the Blades in all three meetings this season, outscoring them 24-0. The Blades have yet to win a game this season.

What’s coming up

The Rivalry Series is happening this week, which is a three-game series between Canada and USA. The teams will play Feb. 12, 14, and 17 split between London, Toronto, and Detroit. The Inferno have 11 players total attending this series – seven players who made Team Canada, and four who made Team USA.

The Inferno have just three games left in the regular season, all of which will be played in China against the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays. These three games are crucial because just one loss could have Les Canadiennes steal that first place spot. The Inferno will most likely be playing either the Markham Thunder or the Rays in the CWHL semis. It seems unlikely that the Toronto Furies will swoop in and steal that final playoff spot, especially since they’ll have to win all five of their remaining games, but never say never.

If the trend continues the way it has and the Inferno win all three games in China, they’ll most likely play the Rays in the semis, meaning these final three games during the regular season could be a preview of that matchup.