Calgary, Alta – With a potential Clarkson Cup preview between the top two teams in the league, this weekend certainly lived up to the billing as both the Calgary Inferno and Les Canadiennes de Montreal were able to come away with a victory.
The needle did not move much in the standings since both games ended in regulation and the Inferno maintained their two-point lead in the standings over the second place Les Canadiennes. The Inferno set the tone early by taking the opening game 5-4. However, Les Canadiennes responded with an emphatic 3-0 shutout win in the backend of this two-game series.
Saturday’s game was a tightly contested affair, which saw the Inferno having to battle back from an early two-goal deficit in the first period thanks to a pair of Les Canadiennes goals from Hilary Knight and Ann-Sophie Bettez. Both Marie-Philip Poulin and Jill Saulnier picked up two assists each on the early markers. Midway through the first, the Inferno stormed back to answer with a trio of goals. Rebecca Leslie got things rolling for the Inferno on the powerplay, putting home a feed from Brianne Jenner. Shortly after, Brianna Decker would tie up the game on a tremendous shorthanded solo effort as she split a pair of Les Canadiennes defenders and beat Genevieve Lacasse for her tenth goal of the year. Defender Halli Kryzaniak would bank one off Lacasse with under 30 seconds to go in the period to give the Inferno a 3-2 lead after the opening frame. The second and third periods saw both teams trade goals with Inferno captain Rebecca Johnston and Blayre Turnbull lighting the lamp for the visitors. Poulin had her all-world skills on display as she potted her league-leading 19th and 20th goals of the campaign. However, her late surge would come up just short as Inferno netminder Alex Rigsby made 29 saves to sneak out a 5-4 victory. Decker (1G, 2A) would collect the first star, while Poulin (2G, 2A) was named second star and Turnbull (1G) would get the third star.
Sunday’s game provided a different script as Les Canadiennes controlled the play from start to finish and had four powerplay opportunities compared to just one for the Inferno. The home team outshot the visitors in the first two periods, which led to a late first period goal from former Inferno Jill Saulnier and an early second period goal from Poulin. The top line of Poulin, Saulnier and Bettez would combine for six points on the first two goals. Poulin added an empty netter with two minutes remaining in the third to seal the game. Meanwhile, Canadiennes starting goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer cruised to her league-leading fourth shutout of the season en route to picking up the first star of the game. Poulin and Hilary Knight grabbed the second and third stars respectively.
The Inferno have a great chance to get back in the ‘Win’ column as they now head back home and begin preparations to host the Worcester Blades next weekend (February 9 & 10). Saturday’s game will take place at The Edge School in Springbank– Arena #2 with puck drop at 3:30 pm MST. Meanwhile Sunday’s rematch will be back inside the comfy confines of Winsport starting at 12:30 pm MST.