Saturday, 2 January 2016

It's A CWHL Live Blog!

It's been a long time since a women's hockey game has been broadcast in Canada on a television network, and we're treated today to a beauty of a game as the Brampton Thunder and Toronto Furies meet in a CWHL regular season matchup! It's a You Can Play Day for the CWHL as the league partners with the organization to defeat homophobia in sports. If you're good enough to play, you can play!

The two points that are on the line in this game mean a lot for both teams. Toronto sits in fourth-place with nine points at 4-9-0-1, but are on a three-game winning streak after downing the Boston Blades twice and taking the second-half of a two-game set with the league-leading Calgary Inferno. They're trying to track down the three teams that sit above them, so these points are vital in trying to close the gap.

Brampton sits in second-place, six points behind Calgary. They're 9-5-0-0, and they're 3-3 in their last six. Brampton needs to find some points after losing two to Calgary and splitting with Les Canadiennes of Montreal, leaving them just two points better than the Montreal club.

I'll add some additional details as the game starts, but we're minutes from starting and I need to get a couple of beverages. Be prepared for some snark, some funny GIFs, and a lot of information about the women's game and these two teams as HBIC's live blog of this CWHL matchup gets underway!

Pre-Game Setup

  • Got a couple of beverages, and the Sportsnet coverage has started.
  • This is the first regular season game to be broadcast on Sportsnet for the CWHL. It's historic, and we're watching it!
  • Natalie Spooner gets a good bit of chatter by John Bartlett and Cassie Campbell-Pascale. Her five-goal game is highlighted.
  • Some good chatter about the depth of the Thunder. Manitoba-born Jocelyne Larocque gets some lip service!
  • Spooner is tied for the league lead in scoring with 19 points, but she leads the league in goals with 13. Yeah, she's a sniper.
  • Brampton's Jamie Lee Rattray has 18 points. She's injured, and won't be playing today. Boo-urns to that fact.
  • Larocque being interviewed by Jennifer Botterill rink-side. Two Manitoba legends!
  • Erica Howe starts for Brampton while Christina Kessler gets the start for Toronto.
  • Ready? It's game-time!

First Period

  • It's a quiet start thus far. Both teams are working out the face-off dots. The linesmen seem up to the challenge right now.
  • If you're not familiar with the women's game, bodychecking is outlawed, but incidental contact is allowed. Battles will happen!
  • Kessler with an AMAZING save early on to keep this a scoreless draw!
  • Both teams seem to be feeling one another out here. Neither team giving up many opportunities outside of the early Brampton chance.
  • Jess Jones of Brampton heading to the sin bin for bodychecking Spooner. Looked something like this.
  • Kori Cheverie eliminated the Toronto power-play by committing her own foul for what appeared to be tripping. 4-on-4 hockey set to play!
  • Thunder on the power-play now after Jones is set free from the penalty box. Shannon Moulson will turn it into a 5-on-3 as she commits a slash. Instant video replay? Yes, I have it.
  • Jones is stopped by Kessler, and she looks on her game today.
  • Toronto successfully kills off the 5-on-3. We'll see if the momentum turns after the Thunder had peppered the Furies on that power-play. 
  • Media timeout! That means I can grab some cold pizza from the fridge! Be back in a second, readers! 
  • Kristy Zamora head to the penalty box for the third Toronto penalty of the opening period. She doesn't seem happy.
  • Some chatter between Bartlett and Campbell about the Twitter survey that Meghan Mikkelson had for the name of her newborn baby. Calder won, but Cassie wanted "Bubba".
  • Another good save by Kessler on the slapshot by Courtney Birchard.
  • Penalty done. Toronto back to full-strength. 
  • So far, good coverage by Sportsnet on this game. Campbell is excellent with her insight as a former player. Let's hope we see more of this opportunity for her and other women in terms of being in the broadcast booth. 
  • Another penalty for bodychecking for the Furies. Michelle Bonello will sit for two or less in some prime seating.
  • Not many quality chances for the Thunder on any of these power-plays yet. Furies' penalty killing doing an excellent job as they kill off another penalty.
  • That was close to a dirty hit, and Dania Simmonds will sit for two for using the body in an aggressive way.
  • In a rather chippy first period, neither team can find twine as the Toronto Furies and Brampton Thunder are deadlocked at 0-0. 

First Intermission

  • Some interesting news out of the CWHL this week as both Meghan Mikkelson and Sami Jo Small were back on the ice.
  • Mikkelson will suit up with the Inferno this weekend for practice as she is expected to return to the lineup for the Inferno against Brampton next weekend.
  • Sami Jo Small give birth to her baby seven weeks ago, and she was back on the ice this past week. She won't be returning to a lineup just yet, but these are excellent reminders of the incredible athleticism these ladies possess as well as the commitment to their health and well-being to be able to get back on the ice in the short timeframes they have.
  • HBIC wants to send a congratulations out to both new moms, and all the best in their returns to action!
  • Twitter accounts you should follow: CWHL, Toronto Furies, Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Boston Blades, and Les Canadiennes de Montreal
  • If you want to get tickets to any of the games, get over to the CWHL site and grab yourself some ducats. They're just $15!

Second Period

  • Middle frame is underway!
  • Carolyne Prevost with a glorious chance that Erica Howe turns aside. Still a scoreless game early in the second period.
  • Some good end-to-end action from both squads.
  • Spooner's backhander rings off the crossbar! Nearly our first goal!
  • Toronto with some great pressure, but Howe finds the puck in the scrum in front of her and we'll reset. 
  • Courtney Birchard: she's good. 
  • Spooner vs. Larocque - Olympian vs. Olympian. Spooner's shot sails over the net. Larocque wins that one-on-one battle. 
  • Some extra-curricular pushing and shoving as Sportsnet goes to a break. As stated, there are definitely physical battles. Don't kid yourself - the women are as physical as the men are!
  • Offsetting minor penalties assessed for the pre-commercial scrum. 
  • Sarah Edney made a great move around a Furies player, and then set up Jess Jones with a great cross-ice pass that was deflected high over the net by Jones. Great play! How many times can I say great? Three times.
  • Kristen Richards to the penalty box for a high stick. Toronto will go back on the power-play as we search for our first goal. 
  • Thank you, John Bartlett, for the mention of the Manitoba Maple Leafs. They, along with the Minnesota Whitecaps, were the two remaining WWHL teams after the Edmonton and Strathmore teams merged and joined the CWHL.
  • Brampton seems to find itself one-on-three every time it goes up the ice. Kudos to Toronto for the defensive responsibility, but Brampton needs to bring more offence if they want to break this game open. 
  • Sarah Edney called for delay of game after some back-and-forth action. She fired the puck out of play from the defensive zone. She sits for two minutes. Feels shame.
  • And that'll do it through 40 minutes. Still 0-0 from Toronto!

Second Intermission

  • Just because it's a CWHL live blog doesn't mean you shouldn't be following the NWHL either. There are a ton of talented women playing in that league as well, and you should be following that league too!
  • Get your tweet game on by following the NWHL, the Connecticut Whale, the Boston Pride, the New York Riveters, and the Buffalo Beauts
  • Again, you're missing out on some great hockey by not watching these games, so get your tail over to the NWHL site and buy a few tickets. They're a little more expensive at $20, but it's great hockey nonetheless!

Third Period

  • Toronto will start this period on the power-play for 44 seconds with Sarah Edney still feeling shame in the penalty box.
  • Erica Howe's rebound control is pretty good. There isn't enough emphasis put on this skill today, I feel, but Howe does it well.
  • SCORES! A face-off win, and Laura McIntosh finds the twine as she goes under the right arm of Kessler after fighting off a defender! BRAMPTON LEADS 1-0.
  • Official scoring play is Laura McIntosh's first goal of the season assisted by Ellie Seedhouse at 2:22.
  • Dania Simmonds tosses Alyssa Baldin to the ice, and Toronto will go back to the power-play after the roughing call. Looked something like this highlight. Or something.
  • Howe has a puck go off her melon. That's using your head! Obvious comment over.
  • Sami Jo Small. Jennifer Botterill. Manitoba-born players could form a Manitoba team and be pretty solid. Jenelle Kohanchuk, an injured member of the Furies, is also Manitoba-born!
  • Brampton is playing pretty conservatively. I'd like to see more offence from them. The best defence, after all, is a good offence.
  • Lexie Hoffmeyer, shown on the bench for the Furies, is one helluva tweeter. I'd follow her if I were you. She's pretty honest in her tweets.
  • Candice Styles, playing for Brampton today, is unofficially the Social Media Player of the Year thus far in the CWHL. Her work with GIFs on Twitter is pretty impressive.
  • WOW. Jess Jones with some impressive moves in close, and her backhander beats Kessler! BRAMPTON LEADS 2-0 on the highlight-reel goal!
  • Official scoring play is Jones' 12th goal of the season assisted by Jenna McParland and Candice Styles at 13:20.
  • Jones' move around Alyssa Baldin to get to the front of the net was the best hockey play I've seen today. Yes, that includes anything from the World Junior Hockey Championship.
  • Extra attacker is on the ice for Toronto with more than three minutes remaining. Is Patrick Roy coaching the Furies?
  • Toronto with a glorious chance, but Emily Fulton has the puck hop over her stick! So close!
  • GOAL! Emily Seedhouse will take the puck after Natalie Spooner is taken down, and she deposits it into the yawning cage! BRAMPTON LEADS 3-0 after the empty net goal!
  • Official scoring play is Ellie Seedhouse's first goal of the season assisted by Laura Fortino at 17:33.
  • Toronto gets a few chances at the end, but the horn sounds as Erica Howe records the shutout in the 3-0 Brampton victory!

Post-Game Discussion

It wasn't the result that the Furies were looking for, but the game was entertaining. While it's always tough to be missing a top player as Brampton was, they pulled out a gritty victory by consistently going to the net and shooting the puck. The Thunder will find themselves on the right side of the ledger if they continue to do so when the Inferno come to town next weekend in what could determine first-place in the CWHL and possibly be a Clarkson Cup Final preview.

It was an afternoon of fantastic hockey action! Catch more women's hockey action in the CWHL, NWHL, NCAA, or CIS whenever you can! You won't regret it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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