Calgary, Alta (Nov.22) – Coming off a successful sweep of the Furies last weekend and winners of their last seven games overall, the Calgary Inferno are back inside the comfortable confines of WinSport with a key matchup against Les Canadiennes de Montreal on the horizon.
The teams are expecting a packed crowd to cheer them on as young players take part in the second weekend of the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival (WickFest). The tournament brings together over 2,500 players for a tournament complete with special off-ice sessions and special guest visits from Olympians and former-NHL players.
Both the Inferno and Les Canadiennes sit just one point back of the league-leading Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays (15 points), despite playing in five fewer contests.
This weekend’s games will undoubtedly be highly competitive as the Inferno and Les Canadiennes have identical 7-1 records. Montreal has a slight edge in goals scored (37-36) and have allowed the least amount of goals in the league (6) with Calgary not far behind (10).
The Inferno understand that goals will be hard to come by so spending as much time as possible in the offensive zone will be critical. “Sometimes the best defense is a good offense and I think that one way we can control the game is by setting the tempo the second the puck drops on Saturday night,” explained Inferno defenseman Kelly Murray.
The Inferno will have their hands full as they look to slow down All-World forward Marie-Philip Poulin (13 points) and Ann-Sophie Bettez (11 points), which is good for top five in scoring. Calgary will counter with Rebecca Johnston, Brianna Decker and Brianne Jenner who have five goals apiece. With a combined 15 goals, the trio accounts for nearly half of the team’s total goals. Between the pipes, Montreal’s Emerance Maschmeyer is the league leader in wins (6), goals against (0.72), save percentage (0.963) and shutouts (3). Calgary will rely on strong goaltending with Alex Rigsby back, fresh off a gold-medal victory at the 4-Nations Cup, and she is expected to start for the Inferno. Rigsby is second in the league for goals against (1.01) and save percentage (0.955).
Despite the scoring prowess that Les Canadiennes possess, the Inferno know they only need to worry about the things within their control. “I think one of the most important things we have to focus on going into this weekend is playing our game and sticking to our own game-plan. Montreal is a highly skilled team, but so are we,” added Murray. “If we get too caught up on focusing on their strengths, we could lose sight of our own.”
Both games will take place at WinSport Arena A with Saturday’s game going at 7:30 pm MST, while Sunday’s rematch will see a 10:30 am MST start.