Calgary, Alta – Jan.10 – Following a pair of victories against the Markham Thunder on the road last weekend, the Calgary Inferno will try to remain perfect in 2019 as they welcome the visiting Toronto Furies this weekend.
Saturday’s game will also mark the fourth annual ‘Start the Spark’ game, which raises awareness to youth mental health in conjunction with the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre (SKCAC).
“I’m really excited to be playing in my first ‘Start the Spark’ game this weekend,” expressed Inferno rookie forward Rebecca Leslie. “DIFD [Do It For Daron] is a cause that I hold close to my heart. I look forward to spreading the word and creating opportunities for conversation. Our team is thrilled to join together to help erase the stigma around youth mental health.”
The Inferno will be suiting up in their limited-edition purple jerseys, which will then be auctioned off following the game starting Saturday night and will remain open until the following Sunday. There will also be an autographed painted Inferno goalie helmet and a jersey signed by the entire team as part of the online auction. Another autographed jersey will be raffled off during the game. All proceeds will go towards SKCAC.
With the first-place Inferno leading the CWHL with 29 points, the Furies are looking to build on their 14 points, while snapping a three-game losing skid in the process. The Furies currently sit fifth in the standings, just one point back of the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays who occupy the final playoff spot.
Offensively, Inferno captain Rebecca Johnston leads the way with 12 goals and 28 points. Olympic teammate Brianne Jenner comes into the weekend red-hot with 5 goals in the last three games. As for the Furies, they will counter with the dangerous Natalie Spooner and super-rookie Sarah Nurse, who have each registered 10 goals and 19 points so far.
Between the pipes, standout rookie Annie Belanger will get the call for the Inferno. Belanger leads the league in goals against average (1.42) and save percentage (0.939). The Furies will roll out their goaltending platoon of Shea Tiley and Elaine Chuli. Tiley has the edge with four wins, a 2.76 GAA and a 0.909 save percentage.
Head-to-head this year, the Inferno lead the season series 3-1-0-0 and this weekend’s games will be the final times these two squads meet during the regular season. Both contests will certainly have some playoff-like intensity, as each team will look to secure a playoff birth.
“Every game is important for us moving forward. We’re excited to be back home in front of our home crowd,” added Leslie. “Toronto is a tough team to play against so we need to continue to build off last weekend. We were tested with some close games against Markham last weekend and I think our team stuck together to earn some hard-fought points. Our compete has been really good in practice this week and I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice.”
The Inferno will be without the services of forward Brianna Decker and goaltender Alex Rigsby this weekend. Forward Zoe Hickel will be back in the lineup this weekend.
Saturday’s ‘Start the Spark’ game will take place at Winsport Arena A starting at 6:30 pm MST, while Sunday’s rematch will be at the Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks with a 12:00 pm MST puck drop.