After having fallen to the Calgary Inferno on Saturday night, the Markham Thunder were back it on Sunday afternoon, this time at the Centennial Community Centre as part of CWHL Weekend on Sportsnet.
For the two sides, it is the last time they will meet for the remainder of the regular season with the exception of those who will square off in the All-Star Game in Toronto on January 20th.
Prior to puck drop, head coach Jim Jackson announced that Liz Knox would be handed the duties between the pipes, giving Erica Howe the night off after a difficult outing in Thornhill.
The Inferno got off to a good start right off the draw, forechecking against the Thunder early on while Jamie-Lee Rattray led the charge for Markham with a breakaway.
Victoria Bach then found her groove, playing well alongside Rattray, however, Alex Rigbsy would come up with the save, getting things going between the Inferno pipes. Bach wasn’t done as she would then drive to the net again but come up empty handed as a result.
The Inferno then started to see their fair share of chances, making for a level of high intensity as well as physicality early on. Woods was next with a nearby opportunity.
Just passed the ten minute mark now, the Thunder were rewarded their first power play of the game, Laura Stacey with an opportunity but blocked by Rigsby in the Calgary net.
Just a moment later, Jenna McParland came rushing up the ice, netting the puck which bounced off the back of Alex Rigsby to open the scoring. The opening goal would be assisted by Laura Fortino and Megan Bozek.
As the game resumed from centre ice, the Thunder were strong once again right off the draw, battling for possession in Calgary’s zone before Bozek scored one of her own to double the lead.
Bach, once again putting her talent on full display, would drive up to the net with another potential scoring chance, though Rigsby would control it as it then made it’s way into the crease.
Looking to get something going on the Calgary Inferno end, Rebecca Leslie, who scored a goal as part of the team’s 4-3 win on Saturday night, just missed an opportunity to get her team on the board with one minute left of play in the game’s opening frame.
Markham, looking for more, would come up with another close scoring chance, Kristen Barbara with the shot, trying to keep the streak alive after scoring one of her own on Saturday night. That would do it for Markham, leading 2-0 at the end of the first period.
The second period opened with the Inferno on the power play, one they would not miss as Brianne Jenner shot it from the point, tipped in past Liz Knox to make it a one goal game. Rebecca Leslie would assist the goal just 15 seconds into the game’s second frame.
Looking to draw even, Laura Stacey then found a chance of her own to score, though it would be stopped by Rigsby to keep to the game at one apiece.
After a brief stoppage of play to announce Liz Knox as an All-Star Game captain, the Inferno sparked a light and tied the game up at two, Katelyn Gosling hitting the top right corner, just getting it over Knox and into the net. Rebecca Leslie and Kacey Bellamy would both be credited with the assists.
Markham was then handed a penalty at the 11:19 mark of the second period, Calgary given the opportunity to further produce and they would do just that. Brianne Jenner would be credited with her second goal of the game to take the lead with assists off the sticks of Leslie and Brigette Lacquette.
At the five minute mark of the middle frame, Markham went back on the power play, and while the team had multiple chances including a breakaway from Nicole Brown, Rigsby would come up with the block to keep Calgary up 3-2 on Markham.
Just a moment later, Rebecca Johnston would double the Inferno lead with a goal to the bottom left corner, making it 4-2 Calgary with just two minutes left to play. Blayre Turnbull would be credited with the assist.
The Thunder would then go back on the power play, sending Webster to the box, making for even strength on both ends to bring the second period to a close.
Six minutes into the third and final period, Kelly Gribbons drove the puck right up to the Calgary zone while looking for a scoring chance, however, Alex Risby was able to get her stick on it as it approached the net, able to stop the puck before crossing the crease and into the mesh.
Markham would remain in the Inferno zone creating chances, all of which would go wide, behind the net and back into the Thunder zone. Calgary would then take a couple shots on Liz Knox from up close, one of which eventually found it’s way to the back of the net.
Markham would come right back hot and fiery, Laura Fortino leading the charge to make it a two goal game with seven minutes left. Jamie-Lee Rattray and Victoria Bach would assist on the Thunder’s third goal of the game.
In the last five minutes, Markham took charge offensively with strong forechecks and good play in the offensive zone, looking to create what might just be their final scoring opportunity of the afternoon.
The Inferno then found themselves back in the Thunder zone, Rebecca Johnston looking to do more damage, scoring what would be her second goal of the game. Knox would not allow it, making the stop to limit the Inferno.
Knox would then get pulled with just under two minutes left to play, making it 6 on 4 for Markham but it then became 6 on 3. Calgary, meanwhile, would call a thirty-second timeout with a penalty coming up for tripping.
The Thunder would then explode behind Rigsby and the Calgary net, Rattray and Bach amongst those taking shots to make it a one goal game. With fifteen seconds left, Markham did just that on the power play, Rattray tipping it in, assisted by Laura Fortino. That would bring the game to it’s conclusion as the Inferno would end with 39 shots on goal while the Thunder shot 35.
Markham is now off until Saturday January 26th when they play host to Montreal’s Les Canadiennes at the Thornhill Community Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pmET and it can be viewed via stream on Youtube.com.
Featured Image: Laine Schuck/CWHL