By Craig Hagerman
2014 Olympic gold medalist Natalie Spooner and Meagan Aarts led the way offensively with a goal and an assist in Clarkson Cup action Wednesday morning as the Toronto Furies overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat the Calgary Inferno 3-2 in the first game of the tournament.
Spooner and Aarts were named the stars of the game for Toronto (10-11-3) while Tessa Bonhomme had two assists, and Kori Cheverie had the other marker for the Furies.
Danielle Stone and Teegan Schroeder led the offense for the Inferno (12-11-1) while Taryn Peacock contributed two assists for Calgary. Coming into the game Stone, who led the Inferno in scoring, had seven points in her last four games.
“I know my line mates are there for support and they know I will be in the right spots,” says Stone. “Give me the puck and I’ll find a way to bank it off something and in.”
Furies’ goaltender Christina Kessler made 31 saves on 33 shots for the victory with many of them coming late in the third as the Inferno pushed to tie the game. While Inferno’s netminder Delayne Brian, who was named player of the game for the Infernos, made 30 saves on 33 shots in a losing effort.
Stone opened the scoring for Calgary at 6:53 of the first period after she finished off a great drop pass by Peacock with a slick toe-drag sending a backhand between the legs of Furies tender Kessler.
Toronto tied the game after the Inferno got into some penalty trouble. Captain Kelsey Webster received a two-minute minor and ten-minute misconduct for making head contact and Jacquie Pierri took a trip to the penalty box for elbowing which gave Toronto a two-man advantage.
Kori Cheverie finished off a Carolyne Prevost pass just nine seconds into the penalty sliding a shot between the pads of Brian.
The Furies would jump ahead just 1:18 into the second period after Meagan Aarts put a rebound off a Bonhomme point shot past a sprawling Brian.
Both teams had their share of penalty trouble with Toronto racking up 26 minutes on five infractions while Calgary spent 24 minutes in the box. Surprisingly besides Toronto’s tally on the late 5-on-3 in the first period, neither team was able to take advantage of the extra attacker.
After Spooner gave the Furies a two-goal lead, Schroeder made it a one-goal game with 4:52 remaining in the third period sneaking a shot between the blocking arm of Kessler. Unfortunately for the Inferno that was as close as they would get.
After coming off her gold medal performance in Sochi, Spooner has tried not to let the pressure get to her, and just focus on helping her teammates.
“I try not to think about it as pressure,” says Spooner. “I came back because I enjoy the game and want to have fun [and] try to help my team win a Clarkson Cup. I don’t think I need to do anything any different except come and play my game.”
Toronto's next game will be Thursday morning when they take on the Boston Blades. That game getting underway at 11:00am while the Inferno will face the Montreal Stars at 7:30pm.