Crossman Gives Blades Early Lead on You Can Play Night, Fall to Thunder 7-1

The Markham Thunder took game one of the weekend series vs. the Worcester Blades by a score of 7-1. The Blades took an early lead with Demi Crossman’s goal at 5:28, but were steadily worn down by Markham’s offense.

Pregame

The Worcester Blades hosted their annual YouCanPlay night, in support of equality and hockey for everyone.

Mariah Fujimagari started in net for the Blades after last appearing on January 9 against the Vanke Rays, making 69 saves in a 4-0 loss.

Elijah Milne-Price made the start for Markham, making her CWHL debut. She went 20-6-4 in 30 starts during her senior season at Robert Morris University last year.

First Period

Fujimagari made the game’s first save two and half minutes in, blocking a chest high shot from the dot and securing the rebound.

The Blades’ first shot found the back of the net as Demi Crossman scored at 5:28 to give the Blades a 1-0 lead. She found a seam to the crease, bringing the puck down low and beating Milne-Price glove side. Kaitlin Spurling earned as assist on the goal.

A quick follow up shot for the Blades came at 6:27, but Milne-Price found the puck for her first career save.

The Thunder countered a minute later, but Fujimagari made the stop to maintain Worcester’s first home-ice lead of the season.

A give and go between Courtney Turner and Nicole Anderson lead to a scoring opportunity at eight minutes in, but they couldn’t get a clean shot on net.

Taryn Harris was called for crosschecking at 8:26, giving the Thunder their first power play opportunity.

A shorthanded chance for Turner came right into the beginning of the power play, but it was turned away by Milne-Price.

However, the Thunder recovered quickly and converted as Jamie Lee Rattray scored just 25 seconds in to the advantage. She was able to beat Fujimagari as a second-chance rebound came to her stick in the low slot. Victoria Bach and Laura Stacey each assisted on the tying goal.

Fujimagari turned away a 3-on-1 chance for Markham just over the midway point of the period, and the follow up shot missed wide.

At 12 minutes in, Rattray sped down the ice, beating her defender and went in 1-on-0, but Fujimagari made the shoulder save.

Another opportunity for Markham came just a minute later. Fujimagari was forced to make a strong save on Jenna McParland as she ripped a shot from close range.

Less than a minute later, Meaghan Grieves and Nicole Anderson generated a 2-on-1, but was defended well by the Thunder.

The Blades kept up the pressure as two quick chances down low for Anderson came at 15 minutes in. She had opportunities on a deflection and rebound, but both were saved by Milne-Price.

Fujimagari saved a point shot and tip by Kelly Gribbons with two and half minutes to go.

The Thunder generated a scramble and flurry of chances as Rattray brought the puck in on net, but nothing found twine. During which, a one-timer from Bach missed just wide with two minutes remaining.

With only 10 seconds left in the period, McParland had a wide open net, but whiffed on the pass, keeping the game tied at one heading into the second.

After the first period of play, the score was tied 1-1. Shots on goal during the period were 17 for Markham and 16 for Worcester.

Second Period

Chelsey Goldberg generated an opportunity for the Blades early as she went in on a partial breakaway two minutes in. However, Milne-Price made the save as the defender prevented a clean lane to the net.

A body checking penalty sent Crossman to the box at 3:48, giving the Thunder their second power play opportunity.

They didn’t waste any time again as Rattray scored her second just 9 seconds in to the advantage.  Stacey earned her second assist as she found Rattray in the crease, beating Fujimagari from close range. The 2-1 score came at 3:57.

Anderson did her best to get the Blades back in it a minute later, putting a shot on net through a defender’s legs. However, Milne-Price made the position save.

Fujimagari made a few solid saves at 7 and 9 minutes in, respectively, to keep it a one-goal deficit.

A chance for Morgan Turner came midway through the period with the extra attacker on the ice, but her redirect went wide.

The aforementioned penalty by the Thunder gave the Blades their first power play of the game. Jocelyne Larocque received the call for interference at 10:12.

A shot by Lauren Williams started the power play on a strong note, but Milne-Price kept the Blades off of the scoresheet for the rest of advantage.

The ensuing minutes saw a barrage of pucks fired at Fujimagari, but the Blades defense prevented clean chances as they forced many of the shots wide.

However, the pressure was too great as Markham managed to break through at 15:11. The third Thunder goal came off Nicole Brown’s stick from Nicole Kosta.

Just a minute later, Jenna McParland came in on a breakaway and Fujimagari turned it aside. However, the Thunder kept the puck in the zone and McParland didn’t miss twice, making it 4-1 at 16:34. Larocque and Kristen Richards earned assists on the score.

The last minute of the period saw the Thunder generate a 2-on-0, but Fujimagari denied any more bleeding.

The score after two periods of play: 4-1 Markham. The Thunder earned 17 shots on goal for the period, totaling 34, and 5 for Worcester, totaling 21.

Third Period

The Thunder came out looking for more, forcing Fujimagari to make a strong pad save two minutes in.

The teams traded rushes for a few minutes with both goalies making saves, but most were routine stops.

However, Rattray completed the hat-trick at 5:05 with a strong, solo effort. Holding off the defender with her body, she hit a turnaround shot through Fujimagari’s pads to make it 5-1.

Taryn Harris returned to the penalty box for roughing at 5:44, giving Markham their third power play of the night.

The Thunder took advantage yet again, as they scored at 7:03 to make it 6-1. A point shot from Jess Jones beat Fujimagari glove side; assisting on the goal was Larocque and McParland.

Near the midway mark, Fujimagari prevented another score with a desperation, post-to-post move which had just enough to stop the puck with her toe blade.

There were not many chances for either team in later half of  the period as Markham played conservatively with the large lead intact.

However, Fujimagari made a few notable saves as Stacey split the defense at 14 minutes in and Rattray ripped a slapshot from the slot a minute later.

The final few minutes were quiet until the final buzzer as it became 7-1 with just a second left on the clock. An open net for Stacey was too good to pass up and she hit her third point of the game with a backhand shot. Bach and Rattray both assisted, with Rattray earning her fourth point of the game.

End of third and final score: 7-1 Markham. Shots on goal during the period showed 19 for the Thunder, totaling 53, and 8 for Worcester, totaling 29.

Three Stars

First Star – Jaime Lee Rattray, Thunder forward

Second Star Jenna McParland, Thunder forward

Third Star – Demi Crossman, Worcester forward

Post Game

Demi Crossman spoke after the game about her early goal.

“I was trying to get it in the zone, first of all. Wanted to make sure we were getting it in deep, early in the game,” she explained. “I saw an opening to use my speed, and I actually used the defender as a screen and got the net… I think it went short-side.”

She also spoke about the advantages to playing with a lead and scoring the first goal of the game.

“It’s always good to get a goal early, especially with teams like this. We just have to keep on working on capitalizing on that, and take it to them even more, especially when you get one-up,” she emphasized. “Like I said, these teams score a lot of goals. Especially when we get up by one, we have to tighten up a little bit more and take advantage of that.”

Lastly she touched on what the team did well in the early half of the game and how they can improve upon that for the rematch in game two.

“In the first period, I think we proved that we can play with them,” she said. “I think if we just focus on what we did in that first period, and move that into the first half of the game and continue for sixty minutes instead of just…taking it for what it was in the first..we have to keep that pressure up and that will change the whole outcome.”

Next Game

The Blades and Thunder will play in their final meeting of the season on Sunday, February 3 at 12:30 p.m. at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. Tickets are available here as well as at the door.

Be sure to follow the Blades on Twitter to follow the games and stay up to date during the remainder of the CWHL season.

Zach Bamberger is a Communications Intern for the Worcester Blades. All media requests and inquiries should be sent to Merisa Boyd, Director of Communications, at [email protected].