Monday, 4 January 2016

Brampton prevails over rival Toronto in rare televised match for CWHL


Two days after the Women’s Winter Classic, one that saw the CWHL’s Canadiennes de Montreal skate to a 1-1 draw with the NWHL’s Boston Pride, the Canadian league enjoyed exposure with a rarely televised match, hopefully signifying greater momentum to come. In a game that was also meant to raise awareness about You Can Play, a cause meant to eradicate homophobia from sport, the Brampton Thunder and the Toronto Furies renewed rivalries in another chapter of the Battle of Toronto.
Contested at Toronto’s Master Card Centre, the game experienced a nationwide television audience. Broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet, who has also broadcast the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game and the 2015 Clarkson Cup playoffs, it is a significant commitment on their part to raising awareness about the women’s game. With Cassie Campbell providing color commentary and Jennifer Botterill reporting on the sidelines, roles they employed in previous CWHL broadcasts, they are establishing themselves as key fixtures for television women’s hockey coverage.

Surprisingly, the first two periods resulted in a scoreless deadlock as neither team was able to gain the first lead of the game. With Brampton outshooting the Furies in both periods, there was no shortage of physical play. Tensions mounted early in the opening period with a total of six penalties being called.
Although Brampton’s Jess Jones was called for the first penalty of the game at the 5:58 mark, Toronto would get a string of four straight penalties in just seven minutes and 45 seconds, showing much undisciplined play. Despite so many power play opportunities for Brampton, Christina Kessler was solid between the pipes, nullifying each one.

In the second period, Brampton goaltender Erica Howe would be thrust into a similar position. After Furies captain Michelle Bonello and Thunder rookie Tara Cation were called for roughing, signifying the intensity of the rivalry, another Brampton penalty was issued less than two minutes later.
With rookie forward Kristen Richards called for high sticking, the Furies went on their third power play of the game. Proving why she is a key factor in the Thunder’s grip on second place, Howe remained solid.

Before the period would expire, Howe would be tested again. With just 1:16 left, Sarah Edney, the first overall pick in the 2015 CWHL Draft was called for a delay of game penalty, providing Toronto with a power play to eventually start the third period.

As Howe’s abilities to frustrate Toronto’s power play unit kept the score at 0 apiece, she helped to instill confidence in her teammates as the Thunder finally solved Kessler. Laura McIntosh, one of the team’s veteran leaders, scored at the 2:22 mark as Ellie Seedhouse, an alumnus from the University of Western Ontario, gained the assist.

Despite Toronto’s efforts to assemble an offensive attack, the blue and white looked overwhelmed at times, unable to keep up with a Thunder squad that is greatly improved from last season. With great determination to add to their lead, the persistence would pay off for the Thunder, quickly deflating Toronto’s hopes.
Jess Jones, a 2016 CWHL All-Star Game selection, scored on Kessler, as Candice Styles and rookie Jenna McParland were credited with the assists.

With less than four minutes remaining in the game, Toronto showed bravura by opting for an open net, in the hopes that an extra attacker would turn the tide in their favor. Such a strategy resulted in a constant barrage of shots, but Howe was strongly on her game this day, denying Toronto any such chance.
Instead, it was the Thunder who took advantage, as Seedhouse earned her game-best second point of the game, scoring into the empty net as All-Star selection Laura Fortino gained the assist.

Earning First Star of the Game honors in a 3-0 final was Brampton’s Jess Jones. In obtaining her second shutout of the season, Erica Howe was recognized as the Second Star, while her goals against average improves to a sparkling 1.80, while pacing all goaltenders in league play with a .939% save percentage. Toronto goaltender Christina Kessler, who provided a valiant performance, obtained Third Star of the Game.

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