By Namish Modi and Pedro Salomao.
MARKHAM,ON.- The defending champion Boston Blades took one more step towards making it back to the Clarkson Cup final by defeating the Toronto Furies 2-1 on Thursday morning. Kate Buesser added two points including the game-winning goal midway through the first to improve the Blades to 2-0-0 in the tournament. Buesser also scored the game-winning goal over the Montreal Stars in their first game.
"It's a team effort. I may be the one in the stats sheet but it's a result of our entire team fore-checking and what we displayed as a unit," said Buesser.
The Blades, who finished second in the regular season, improved their chances of making Saturday's championship with the important victory.
"This is what we came out to do and now we are in the driver's seat," said Buesser.
Special teams were the deciding factor in the tilt as Boston scored both their goals on four powerplay opportunities while the Furies (1-1-0) went scoreless on five chances with the man-advantage.
"Anytime you have a man-advantage, it's imperative to score a goal," said Blades forward Kelli Stack. "Power-plays were huge for us today."
Canadian gold-medallist Genevieve Lacasse made 26 saves on 27 shots to back-stop the Blades to victory, while Christina Kessler made 22 saves in a losing cause.
The loss forces the Furies into a must-win situation on Friday morning when they will play the Montreal Stars.
"It's a huge game for us, I think we've been playing well so far, " said Furies forward and Canadian Olympian Natalie Spooner. "So I don't think we really need to change much."
Lacasse came up big throughout the entire third period making key saves, which included a 5-on-3 opportunity early in the third.
All three goals in the tilt came in the first frame.
Hilary Knight took advantage of Boston's opportunity with a two-man advantage at 8:20 of the first period opening the scoring the Blades. Buesser and Kelly Stack added helpers on the goal.
Buesser's second point of the game was a power-play marker at 12:20 of the first period after Michelle Bonello took Toronto's third penalty of the period.
However, Holly Carrie-Mattimoe gave Toronto hope for a comeback tying the game just 30 seconds later.
Toronto couldn't capitalize on several great chances in the second, including going scoreless in three opportunities.
Lacasse made a key save early in the second period when Spooner got a short-handed breakaway.
"I was able to go through on a breakaway and tried to put it in the top corner, but she made a great save, she's a great goalie so that's going to happen," Spooner said.
The Blades will play the Calgary Inferno in the finale of the round robin on Friday night.