By David F. Pendrys
BOSTON, MA- The Boston Blades home opener on paper did not look auspicious but the Blades were working without three of their usual defenders including their Captain Tara Watchorn. The Calgary Inferno rolled into town missing players competing in the Four Nations tournament as well. The 8-0 score does not look good on paper but does not tell the whole story early in the season.
“We’re still trying to come together as a team,” Boston’s Megan Myers said after the game. “From last year we had huge turnover coming into this year. We had 15 or 16 rookies. So we’re still trying to find our groove, still trying to find line combinations that work, D pairs that work, trying to find a goalie that can play the whole game and stick in there. I think chemistry that will come with time and practice,”
The two teams played the first period without giving up goal. Calgary however would pick up a goal at 4:06 in the second. Jessica Wong blocked a Boston clearing attempt and passed it over towards the net. It ended up in Brittany Esposito’s hands in front of the net and she whacked it past Blades goaltender Lauren Dahm quickly. Another assist went to Jenna Cunningham.
Not long after that at 6:46 Iya Gavrilova came in from keeper’s right and fed it over to Jill Saulnier on the other side of the net who hit it home.
3 minutes later at 9:58 in a play that evolved very quickly, Cunningham was at Dahm’s left and fed it over right to Esposito on the opposite side and she got it in before Dahm could slide back.
At 14:26 Meaghan Mikkelson skated up the side of the ice into the Boston zone, paused a bit, and dropped it for Gavrilova who hammered it into the net. An additional assist went to Hayleigh Cudmore.
In the third, at 4:03 Calgary kept up the pressure as Cudmore had fed it to Saulnier from down the ice and Saulnier skated it up harassed by the defense and yet she still maneuvered in and beat Dahm in an effective one on goalie situation.
Not long after at 6:53 Aina Takeuchi launched it from the point through the screen and in it went for a sixth Calgary goal. An assist went to Esposito as well.
With the game largely out of reach Rhianna Kurio came up the right side of the rink and sent it across to Kaitlyn Gosling in front who fought to put it past the keeper at close range at 15:31.
With only a minute left in the game. Cunningham ended up with it in a crowd of people and skated around the Blades zone until she could back hand it into the top of the net. Elana Lovell and Wong got assists on this too.
“I think we got pretty tired going into the second period,” Myers said explaining the differences in the periods and noting the high of tying the Calder Cup champs faded away from a high to a low as the game progressed She noted the need to keep the energy up.
In the goaltending area. Calgary’s Delayne Brian made 21 saves on 21 shots. Boston’s Lauren Dahm saved 47 of the 53 shots she faced. Her relief Shelley Payne made 7 saves on 9 shots.
“We have a pretty tight knit group. We’re really fast, I don’t know if you saw that out there,” Myers explained. “We’re definitely real fast. A lot faster than we think we are,” her teammate Dru Burns added. Burns also concurred that the team’s chemistry will grow over time.
The game has since been played but when asked how the team prepares for a quick turnaround Myers gave an extensive answer.
“Hopefully get some carbs in as soon as we can…get some good night’s sleep…We haven’t had a quick turn around since last year in Calgary. Should be interesting to see how it goes. A lot of the college kids aren’t used to getting up at seven in the morning to come to a hockey game to play at nine thirty after playing at night.”
The Blades would turn things around somewhat the next day though Calgary still won 6 to 3.
Noticed Plays. (A nonexhaustive list of plays that might not make the scoresheet but contribute to gameplay. It is entirely possible and likely that many plays are not noted here. It is what is noticed in the chaos of ten players active on the ice at once.)
Kristina Brown disrupted a Calgary shot. Later she and Dru Burns got to a rebound and moved it up for a drive. She dived to block an Inferno shot, and had at least one more block later on. She also scooped up the puck in the defensive zone and brought it out at one point. Much later she stole the biscuit at mid-ice.
Dru Burns had at least one block and on another occasion disrupted a Calgary setup before getting the puck out of the Boston end.
Casey Pickett snatched the puck out of a crowd in the Blades end and skated it up ice. Later she cleared it out of the defensive zone ending a Calgary effort. She also flummoxed an Inferno break getting the puck away. Later she disrupted another Inferno skate in, and the puck went to a fellow blade. She stole it in the defensive zone at a later time blunting another attack.
Megan Myers stole the puck in the offensive zone, later had a block at even strength and one on the penalty kill. She also cleared the puck out of the zone on a penalty kill. Later in the game she blocked a shot that bounced to another Blade who skated it down ice. Myers also had a block on another penalty kill as well.
Chelsey Goldberg stole the puck from an opponent and raced in on a break. She also acquired a loose puck in the defensive zone and brought it out. She cleared it out of the zone during a penalty kill later in the game.
Kate Leary had a block early on. When Calgary stole the puck from a teammate in the Boston zone she stole it back. She and Melissa Bizzari conducted a breakaway though the the result was not a goal. During a penalty kill Leary despite falling down cleared the puck. She also cleared the puck again this time to Bizzari who went in for a shooting opportunity. She intercepted a pass at center ice to lead a break into the Inferno zone, and later had a clear on another penalty kill.
Meghan Grieves snatched the puck in her zone and brought it down ice. When an Inferno player hit the puck away from a teammate she got to it and shot it.
Bizzari swatted the puck of mid air to keep it in in the Inferno zone. She also cleared the biscuit during a penalty kill. Later she moved the puck out of the goal mouth and started a drive up the ice.
Nachi Fujimoto disrupted a Calgary break in on the net. Later she cleared it to Pickett who skated in on the visitor’s net. She acquired the puck in her end and fed it out to a teammate cleanly. She also intercepted a centering pass at another point. During a penalty kill, she and Dakota Woodworth fought to get the puck across the blue line.
Sato Kikuchi picked up a block late in the game.
Taylor McGee intercepted a Calgary pass ending their attempt. She later moved it out of the goal mouth. Later on a loose puck was picked up and exited from the Blades zone by her.
Kayla Tutino stole the rubber disc in the Boston zone and got it out. Later she disrupted the Inferno’s approach and a teammate got to the puck. She cleared the puck from the the Boston side at another point.
Dakota Woodworth kept the puck in the zone to prolong a Boston attack.
Erin Kickham employed a heavy meddlesome forecheck at times.
Nicole Giannino fought to get it into the Inferno zone during a skate up.
Margaret Zimmer stole the puck to from a defender and got it to Giannino for a shot.
Clara St. Germain stole the puck in the zone and moved it up to Myers who had a chance on net.
Rhianna Kurio stole the puck near center ice and fed it up to Erica Kromm who took a shot. She also cleared it up to a teammate for an offensive attempt. She broke in herself later in the game though was stopped.
Iya Gavrilova and Jill Saulnier worked to steal the puck and get it on net. Gavrilova would break back in at a different instance in the game. She pounced on a bad Boston pass and passed it to Kurio in front. Gavrilova also led a break during a penalty kill and fed it to Saulnier who killed time. Later on she stole the puck in the offensive zone.
Brittany Esposito stole the puck in the Calgary zone and started a short handed break. Later after the Blades stole the puck in the Inferno end, she got it back and brought it out eventually getting it to Kaitlyn Gosling for a scoring opportunity.
Jessica Wong kept the puck within the blue line for a shot. She has a block at a different point. Also later on she stole the puck and broke in on the net. Her steal at an even later date kept an offensive drive alive.
Kromm had a break on net, blocked a Blades shot, and kept a puck in the Boston zone so the team could continue their momentum.
Laura Dostaler had one of the many Calgary breaks.
Aina Takeuchi kept the puck in the Boston end to prolong the offense. She disrupted a Boston break, and later during a penalty kill, blocked the puck and cleared it. She also got to a Boston player hanging by the net and kept her from exploiting that position.
Kaitlyn Gosling stopped a Boston zone entry. She also during a 5 on 3 penalty kill got the puck out. During a sequence in the Blades zone she kept the puck from crossing the blue line.
Jacquie Pierri snatched the puck away from a Blades player and cleared it at even strength. She also intercepted a centering pass and got it out.
Blayre Turnbull intercepted a puck near the Boston blue line and took advantage to skate in on the attack..
Jill Saulnier intercepted a pass in her defensive zone and brought it out. She engaged in numerous breakaways during the 60 minute contest.
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