Calgary, Alta (Feb.9) — The Calgary Inferno wrapped up their four game China swing with a 3-2 victory in regulation over the Kunlun Red Star. With the win, the Inferno racked up seven out of a possible eight points on their road trip and now sit just one point back of the second-place Red Star.
It was a fast-paced opening period as both teams came out with a lot of energy. The Red Star were eager to set the tone early and had multiple chances to get on the board first. Off a giveaway in the Inferno zone, the Red Star’s Alex Carpenter picked up the loose puck but rang one off the iron as she had beat Calgary goalie Lindsey Post. Midway through the first, the Red Star continued to bring pressure and it paid off as Zoe Hickel banked one in off Post to break the ice. Line mate Kelli Stack was credited with an assist on the play as well. The Inferno did not have a lot of offensive opportunities, but struck when they needed it most. In the late stages of the first, a neat Inferno breakout from their own zone led winger Kayla Gardner to find a streaking Katelyn Gosling, who had jumped up from her defensive position to join the rush and she snapped one into the top corner on Red Star goalie Yuqing Wang. Calgary also had two penalties called against them in the first, but Post made numerous saves to keep the Red Star from scoring their next goal. The teams took a 1-1 tie into the first intermission.
The first half of the second period saw very little stoppage in play with plenty of action in both ends. The Inferno’s Kelly Murray and the Red Star’s Stack traded minor penalties but neither team was able to capitalize. Calgary’s Sophie Shirley broke the deadlock in the backend of the second period as she weaved her way through the Red Star defense and snapped one through the legs of Wang to put the Inferno up 2-1 with. Shortly afterwards, the Red Star’s Stephanie Anderson raced down the right wing and released a quick shot that snuck under the right arm of Post to even up the score at two. Lu Wen and Jessica Wong picked up the helpers on the Anderson goal. Fortunately, the Inferno did not panic and were rewarded with a goal on the powerplay with the Red Star’s Rachel Llanes in the penalty box for hooking. With Iya Gavrilova manning the point on the Inferno powerplay, she slid the puck over to Gosling who delivered a shot on net and Dakota Woodworth was in great position to clean up the rebound and put her team ahead 3-2 heading into the third period.
Calgary was looking for more in the third period with a handful of scoring chances from two powerplays and some great individual efforts including one from Kelty Apperson who nearly put in her own rebound. However, Wang was up to the task and kept the deficit to within one. The Red Star continued to apply pressure, including a sequence with Stephanie Anderson buzzing around the Inferno net with the puck. Despite her efforts to tie the game, Post was magnificent down the stretch and preserved the one goal lead for the Inferno as they hung on until the buzzer. Post finished the game with 27 saves, while Gosling had a hand in all three Inferno goals.
The Inferno were mentally prepared for a much tougher Red Star team in tonight’s game.
“It’s not like any other game. We didn’t want to come out taking it easy. We were a little more focused on the mental end. I think as a team we just had to concentrate on the little things and that’s what got us through,” remarked first star Katelyn Gosling.
The Inferno blueliner scored a critical goal to pull Calgary even in the first, which seemed to boost the team.
“I saw an open area and an opportunity to step up. KG [Kayla Gardner] made a fantastic backhand sauce pass and that’s what created the chance. KG was the real hero on that one,” added Gosling.
3 Stars of the Game:
- Katelyn Gosling – Calgary Inferno
- Lindsey Post – Calgary Inferno
- Stephanie Anderson – Kunlun Red Star
The Inferno will now begin the trip home and will have a couple weeks to rest and practice during the Olympic break before their next game action, which will take place February 24 & 25 against the Boston Blades at WinSport.
The next few weeks will be critical for teams vying for a playoff birth. Calgary is four points back of league-leading Montreal. With just six games left this season against Boston, Markham and a final weekend against Montreal, there will be a lot of excitement in the battle for the top spots in the league. Markham and Vanke are in a battle for the fourth and final playoff spot, currently tied with 25 points apiece.