Calgary Inferno Sweep Toronto Furies
The Calgary Inferno smoked the Toronto Furies this weekend, increasing their lead in the league standings to a solid 22 points in 14 games, 5 points more than the second place Boston Blades.
Friday night, Calgary won 6-3, with two power-play goals a side, in a game with some lively tripping and body checking. Saturday, Calgary won 4-2, while on Sunday they won 4-3. Clearly, the scores got closer as the weekend went on, but interestingly, it was only in Sunday’s game that the shots taken by either side became comparable. Friday and Saturday, Calgary out shot Toronto by almost twice as much each time, keeping Christina Kessler exceedingly busy in goal for Toronto. On Sunday, however, shots were pretty comparable– 30 shots for Calgary, 27 for Toronto. There were also much fewer penalties on either side, although Julie Allen did get a ten minute major and a misconduct for Toronto.
Calgary continues to be an incredibly fast and offensively powerful team, with three of their players in the top five league scoring leaders. Rebecca Johnston has maintained a strong lead in first, with 25 points in 14 games, while Haley Irwin is holding down third with 19 points in 13, and Brittany Esposito has the 5th place with 15 points in 15 games. I think Johnston is a pretty safe prediction for this year’s Angela James Bowl winner, although Hilary Knight (currently in second with 20 points in 12 games) could always go on a tear and jump ahead.
Notably, this was both team’s first game back after the Christmas break. Gotta wonder if
it took Toronto those first two games to get up to speed, but hopefully they’ve brushed off all the rust now.
Boston Blades crush Brampton Thunder
Gotta say, these two were a little painful to watch, even just following them live on Twitter as I was.
On Saturday, the Blades won 11-3 over the Thunder. On Sunday, they won 8-0.On first blush, these look like the kind of scores that the CWHL has worked hard to eliminate, with their deliberate and substantial efforts at introducing parity in the league. But when you look at it a little more, it’s not as much a vast talent disparity. Still pretty ugly, but not the flashback to the NWHL-era blow outs that it first looked like.
First off, Brampton had an unusually short bench for these two games. They had 18 total players listed on their roster and three of them were goaltenders. That’s 15 skaters. Compare that to 23 players, 21 skaters for Boston. Boston’s already a fast team– when you’ve got barely three lines to their little over four, things will get tough. Brampton was also massively out shot– Erica Howe and Liz Knox faced a combined 42 shots in goal for Brampton, while Genevive Lacasse faced 7 in total. Which brings me to my next point– Lacasse let in three goals on 7 shots. In a game where Boston was so dominating play that they had 42 shots on goal. That’s a real concern for Boston, despite the strong win.
Brianna Decker, in her first appearance for Boston, had a stunning first weekend in the CWHL. Boston’s third round pick, Decker was previously inactive as she finished up her last semester at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was expected to do great things, especially as she was reunited with Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan, who she had played with at Wisconsin and on the US national team previously. And boy oh boy, did she deliver. Decker had 7 points in her first game, with three goals and four assists. On Sunday, she had two goals and one assist.
What you’ve probably already seen, even if you missed everything else in the Boston/Brampton series this past weekend, is that Monique Lamoureux and Jamie Lee Rattray got in a fight on Sunday. The provoking incident appeared to be a collision between the two early in the third where Lamoureux elbowed Rattray in the head, and Rattray followed up with an elbow to Lamoureux’s shoulder. Lamoureux appears to have been the instigator of the fight, but Rattray looked really willing to drop the gloves. It took the refs a while to separate the two, despite their best efforts. Each player was given a five-minute penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct.
(Vine by Meg Linehan)
This incident raises the question– is there any sort of supplemental discipline procedure in the CWHL? Aside from the fact that fighting is banned in the CWHL, that kind of elbow to the head is a dangerous one, as well as being illegal.
Obviously, a lack of recorded games (as game streaming was just introduced last season, and is not yet available for all games) would make uniform enforcement impossible. Lower level leagues, including what I’m most familiar with, rec leagues, sometimes have procedures for dealing with complaints from coaches or refs about player misconduct, so it’s not like this problem has never been solved before.
However, there’s nothing available on the CWHL website about any sort of procedure for supplemental discipline, and to my knowledge, there’s never been any publicly known suspensions or other discipline in the past. However, Allyson Fox, one of the commentators on the match and a former Brampton Thunder player, stated that there could be a suspension of up to six games for the fight. That rather implies that there have been suspensions in the past for illegal incidents– just perhaps not public ones. If so, that kind lack of transparency really grates on me, and is, in general, Very Odd. We’ve reached out to the league with some questions about player suspensions and this incident in particular, but haven’t received any comment yet.