For the first time in two weeks, the Markham Thunder made their return home on Saturday night, taking on Rebecca Johnston and the Calgary Inferno at the Thornhill Community Centre.
These two teams last met back on December eighth and ninth as part of a doubleheader, both games in which Markham dropped and therefore are now looking to give them some revenge.
Things got off to a slow start for the Thunder, however, after Brigette Lacquette was sent to the penalty box for hooking, Markham was then handed their first power play of the night, though nothing would be made of it, allowing Lacquette to re-join her club on the ice.
With the rushes looking strong on both ends early in, both the Thunder and Inferno saw a couple chances early on, however, with both goaltenders playing a quality game in the opening minutes, all chances came close, though of course were blocked in the end.
Moving forward to the eight minute mark of the first period of play, Markham was put on the power play once again against the Inferno as Kelly Murray was called for body checking, resulting in a two-minute penalty. This would give the Thunder an advantage once again.
Both Kristen Richards and Jamie-Lee Rattray found opportunities with open slots, however, none of which could sink it past the skate of Alex Rigsby, making a solid effort to defend and keep the game tied scoreless as well.
This wasn’t it however as the Thunder didn’t waste the power play this time around, making full use of it which resulted in the game’s opening goal. Laura Fortino would be credited for it with assists from Kristen Richards and Erica Howe. This would take place with just 11 seconds left on the clock.
After Brianne Jenner was sent to the box on a tripping call against Laura Stacey, the Thunder were back on the power play and for the third time in the first frame, giving Jess Jones a chance, this time coming ever so close to banking it in. The puck would hit Rigsby’s mask and bounce off and away from the crease.
Megan Bozek was next to fire a laser into the Inferno zone, however, stopped by the glove of Rigsby who continued to keep Markham limited. The Inferno were then able to re-direct the puck out of their zone, finding a possibility of their own to tie the game and get themselves on the board as well.
After a wrap around which came close to passing by the pads of goaltender Erica Howe, the Thunder then found an out, sending it back to Calgary’s zone. After a couple of attempts, it would find it’s way into Markham’s possession and back to the other side of the ice rather quickly.
Markham would then receive yet another power play where they would try once again to add more, Ella Matteucci sending a laser just high of the Calgary net. This would make for a solid last stride of the frame, closing it out for the first twenty minutes with the Thunder up 1-0 on Calgary in Thornhill.
The Thunder got off to a quick paced start in the second period, immediately with a shot fired to try and tie the game at one early on but Erica Howe had other thoughts, managing to keep it out while at the same time, keeping Calgary scoreless.
Markham would come right back with a shot of their own fired the other way, however, it goes just wide and misses Alex Rigsby inside the net. From the left-side, Calgary would try to get something going four minutes in, however, not before loosing possession to the Thunder who would re-direct it the other way.
After a quick stoppage of play, the action would pick up from Calgary’s left dot, though very quickly stopped once again before Markham would find their footing to carry on strong. This would find them dragging the puck right out of their own zone, just missing a pair of chances from Bozek fired from the right side.
They wouldn’t be done there with Laura Fortino fighting for the puck, however, loosing it to the Inferno who would then loose it themselves in Markham’s zone. The Thunder with another fighting chance against Calgary drove it back into the Inferno zone, Victoria Bach coming up just short.
Fortino would then re-direct the puck from Calgary’s possession, thought unable to hold onto it finding it’s way into the Thunder zone. Markham was then able to move the puck out and near Calgary’s net, looking to do more damage before the two sides would be brought back into the Markham zone.
This would ultimately repeat itself before a stoppage of play was called at the 10:40 mark, opening on Calgary’s left side again, though unable to maintain the puck against Markham.
The Thunder, driving themselves around the ice looking for chances, would find themselves on the left side of the Inferno zone, battling for the puck in order to pass it around, however, struggling to gain sole custody of it while looking to add another goal to go up on Calgary.
Once again being pushed looking to do something productive, the Thunder would find themselves back in their own zone, battling for the puck up against the boards. Once driven out and a chance fired by Jess Jones, the action would be brought to a halt for a stick of both benches.
The Thunder would then find themselves playing defensively against Calgary, Erica Howe up against the Inferno, not backing down without a fight. Nothing would come of it, bringing the action back to the Calgary Inferno zone.
With the Thunder defence leading the command trying to keep Calgary held to a tight leash, Erica Howe would make a couple snags, though it wouldn’t hold for much longer as Rebecca Leslie was able to poke one past to put the Inferno up on the board to tie the game at one.
Just a moment later, Blayre Turnbull would follow in her footsteps, adding another goal through an empty hole to give Calgary both re-assurance in a comeback as well as a 2-1 lead on the Markham Thunder.
As the action started up again from the centre ice dot, Laura Stacey would find herself digging for the puck on Markham’s right side, which would be followed by a pass to Jaime-Lee Rattray who would send one the other way but just come up empty.
With just a minute left to play in the second period in Thornhill, Calgary looking for more, would drive right into the Thunder zone, however, just going wide behind the net, seeking one more before leaving the zone.
The Thunder, looking disfigured, would struggle to keep the puck in the Inferno zone, Calgary playing aggressively to add a third but not able to, bringing the middle period of the game to an end after forty minutes of play.
As the third and final period commenced, Brigette Lacquette would be sent off early to the penalty box once again, this time for body-body-checking, giving the Thunder another power-play, one they would would not see through, bring the game back to even strength.
Calgary would then find themselves in full force, sending the puck on the Markham zone with a couple of chances at Erica Howe, who would keep the score held at 2-1 before the Thunder re-directed it.
Kristen Richards would then be called for tripping, the Thunder now being put on their first penalty kill of the night. Markham, looking to come back, would then interfere with Calgary play to get possession of the puck, though the Inferno would remain confident and active offensively in spite of it.
Once back in their possession, a laser would then be fired from centre ice to Erica Howe who would then make the save with a quick block before another stoppage of play was called.
Markham would then find themselves playing more so defensively in their own zone, protecting the net before heading back for a couple of chances in Calgary’s zone. Fortino would go wide on Rigbsy before loosing the puck to the Inferno again.
Jenner would then find a perfect opportunity in front of the net, resulting Howe spreading out between the pipes behind Bozek in effort ro keep the puck out which they’d manage to do.
The Thunder would then go on the power play as a result of Rebecca Leslie being called off for for goalie interference, ultimately dividing the Inferno in the Calgary zone while looking to bring the heat. With time still left on the clock, Markham would loose track of the puck which would be sent in Howe’s direction and into the Thunder zone.
The Inferno, not giving up would continue to play well defensively, keeping up with the Thunder against the boards, fighting for the puck which Fortino would get and send to the net but stopped by Rigsby.
Calgary then sent the puck the other way once again, firing a couple shots of their own before a stoppage of play was called. It would then resume from Markham’s right dot, the Thunder playing strong defensively before Jamie-Lee Rattray guided it out of the zone.
The Thunder, finding their footing late into the third period, would remain fighters against the Inferno in front of Rigsby and the Inferno net, though coming up with nothing in the end after a pair of chances from McParland and Rattray.
The Inferno would then push back into the Markham Thunder zone, adding their third goal of the game, off the stick of Brianne Jenner with just over four minutes left to play in the final frame.
Markham from the draw would then find themselves battling in the Inferno zone for a chance at a comeback, however, would loose it to Calgary who would send it out and the other way.
The Thunder wouldn’t be stopped just like that, adding their second goal of the game just just under three minutes left to play, now trailing Calgary by just a single goal.
From the draw, Markham would dig for it and send it to the Inferno zone, battling for another chance before it was sent to the Thunder zone and fought up against the boards.
Markham would then gain possession, looking to take full advantage in the other end, however, would not be able to hold it for long as the Inferno then fired back with a shot of their own. This would be stopped by Howe to keep Calgary up by just a single goal apiece.
The Thunder would continue to push Calgary away to find any chances they may have, Rattray and Brooke Webster coming close in front of Rigsby to tie it up. Just a matter of moments later, the Thunder would find that extra and perhaps last boost of energy, knotting it all up three with just over a minute left to play. Victoria Bach would be credited with scoring the goal that would send the game to overtime.
Bach would then take the face-off from the centre ice dot for overtime, the Inferno touching the puck first but driving it right into the glove of Erica Howe. From the left-side dot, Calgary once again with a chance at the puck, however, another laser to the net and subtly stopped by Howe.
Things would then start to get messy in the Markham zone, a pair of players hitting the ice before Howe claimed yet another shot in the glove from Calgary. Laura Fortino, looking for her second goal of the game, would grab the puck before the game was called to a quick stoppage of play in the Inferno zone.
The Thunder would hold steady outside of their end, looking for that one and final goal, however, not before it briefly entered the Thunder zone before being dragged out. This then brought the game to another stoppage of play. Once resumed, Calgary again would drive into the Thunder zone with a shot of their own, but Markham kept it out and quickly responded back with one of their own towards Rigsby.
The Thunder, putting up a fight in the Inferno zone, would eventually loose the puck and in their own zone with a shot just high over the net and back around the ice into the Calgary zone. Jenna McParland would then drive the puck out to Rattray who who would send it to Jocelyne Larocque before falling in the Calgary zone. The play would not result in any further production in the end. Bach then shot one of her own while still in the zone and would miss before the play was converted out and around.
Calgary would then storm the Thunder zone looking to close it and after missing a shot by inches at the foot of Erica Howe, Kacey Bellamy would be that force in the middle of it all to receive the puck and net the winner.
The Thunder and Inferno are back on Sunday at 1:30pmET when they square off for the last time this season as part of CWHL Weekend on Sportsnet. The game will be played at the Centennial Community Centre in Markham and it can be viewed on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific.
Featured Image: Teri Di Lauro/CWHL