The Blades fell to the Inferno by a score of 5-0 as a tight early game steadily caved way to a strong offensive output by Calgary.
For the Blades, Mariah Fujimagari started in net for the third time this season after posting a strong 42 save effort against the Furies last weekend. For the Inferno, Annie Belanger made her season debut and first career start in the CWHL.
The period started out slow as the teams felt each other out through the first five minutes. They traded rushes, but both teams and goalies put up solid defense.
Fujimagari was tested first after making a save on a strong point shot just under six minutes in. The Blades challenged back quickly, as Erin Kickham fired a shot from dot just one minute later.
The first penalty of the game came at 8:25 when Megan Turner was called for hooking. Fujimagari made another strong save off a large scramble in the crease during the powerplay at 9:42.
Halli Krzyzaniak was called for interference at 10:06, resulting in a quick, 20 second 4 on 4 and a shortened Blades powerplay. However, Belanger and the Inferno held on and killed off the penalty.
The Inferno came close to scoring first at 13:30. A wrist shot managed to sneak by Fujimagari, but it hit the post and the Blades were able to clear.
With 4 minutes to go in the period, the Inferno managed to generate a good minute of zone time, but the Blades were able to mostly keep them to the perimeter. Fugimagari made a great save on a high slot chance after the Blades turned the puck over in the defensive zone.
The Blades were once again forced to kill a penalty at 16:19 when Meghan Spurling was called for tripping. But once again, Fujimagari held strong, making good saves down low on the doorstep with the pads to keep the game scoreless.
And that is how the period ended, with no goals scored but Calgary getting the upper hand in offense, with 10 shots on goal to Worcester’s 4.
The second period started off much like the first, slowly trading chances through six minutes. The inferno had the advantage in chances which included a 2-on-1 opportunity which the Blades nicely defended.
The Inferno broke the scoreless tie on a goal by Kelty Apperson at 6:45, burying the second chance opportunity in the crease. The goal was assisted by Brigette Lacquette.
Jennifer MacAskill attempted to tie the game back on a breakaway chance at 8:30 in. She took the puck to the crease, but Belanger prevented the shot with a quick pokecheck.
The Inferno struck again at 11:50, scoring off a nice point shot by Kacey Bellamy that just snuck by Fujimagri. The goal was assisted by Brianna Decker and Zoe Hickel.
— Worcester Blades (@WorcesterCWHL) October 27, 2018
The Blades had another breakaway opportunity with under four minutes left as Kaitlyn Spurling took the puck to the net. She attempted to sneak the puck in the five-hole ,but Belanger held the pads together.
Halli Krzyzaniak was called for tripping at 16:40 to give the Blades a much needed powerplay, however the Inferno managed to score shorthanded just 19 seconds in. Blayre Turnbull sped past the defense and beat Fujimagari on an unassisted wrist shot to put the Inferno up 3-0.
Demi Crossman was called for roughing at 17:27 to negate the remainder of the Blades powerplay, resulting in just under a minute of 4-on-4. The short Calgary powerplay was killed off as the period came to a close.
After two, the score was 3-0 Calgary as the Inferno shot 17 on net to total 27. Worcester had 8 to total 12.
Just 1:20 into the period, the Inferno extended their lead to 4-0, as Venla Hovi beat Fujimagari off a slapshot from the high slot. Lacquette earned her second assist of the game on the goal.
Just over three minutes later at 4:56, Calgary found the back of net again to make it 5-0. Laquette fired a wrist shot from the top of the dot, beating Fujimagari to score her third point of the game. Blayre Turnbull assisted to earn her second point of the game.
The remainder of the period was fairly uneventful. With a five goal lead, the Inferno stepped back and played somewhat conservatively, not allowing the Blades to get any offense going.
Despite already giving up five goals, Fujimagari maintained her composure and stopped multiple solid chances for the Inferno to put up even more. This included a desperation save with her stick to prevent the backdoor chance at 10:30 in the period, with the Inferno already up by five. She ended the game making 42 saves on 47 shots.
The final score: 5-0 Calgary. Shots on goal during the third were 20 for the Inferno, totaling 47, and 5 for the Blades, totaling 17.
Calgary’s Annie Belanger was strong in her career debut, making 17 saves for the shutout. Albeit, the Blades didn’t get many quality chances on her and the low shot count is a testament to the Inferno’s defensive presence during the game.
First Star: Brigette Lacquette (Calgary Defender)
Second Star: Blayre Turnbull (Calgary Forward)
Third Star: Brianna Decker (Calgary Forward)
Blades’ Head Coach Paul Kennedy spoke after the game about his team’s performance over the course of the game.
“Playing against a really strong team, they’re very talented, very well coached. And our kids are playing with them,” he said. “When you’re down 3, you have to open it up. In the third period you have to take a lot more chances. If you don’t take the chance you never know if you’re going to score or not.”
He also talked about his Fujimagari’s performance in the game.
“She’s a good goalie. I mean five goals, thats not her fault. She kept us in the game, she kept us in the game, then she kept us in the game. We’ve got to play too. She can’t stop everything,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy also mentioned what he hopes to see change for the next game.
“Actually, nothing. I thought we played very well. Shots in the first two periods were about 17-10, thats not bad. [Down] 2-0, I’m ok with that as well,” he stated. “We skated with them, it’s just that we’ve got to keep the game within two goals going into the third period so that we don’t have to open it up, we don’t have to spread the ice out…If we could’ve kept it to two goals and under going into the third period, or if we got a goal, I think it would’ve been a different game.”
The Blades take on the Inferno in Game two on Sunday at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center, with puck drop at 12:30 pm. Tickets are available here as well as at the door.
To stay up to date with this weekend’s game coverage, be sure to follow the Blades on Twitter @WorcesterCWHL.
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]