The Worcester Blades began their 2018-19 Canadian Women’s Hockey League regular season Saturday night with a game against the 2018 Clarkson Cup Champion Markham Thunder at the Thornhill Community Centre in Markham, Ontario, and the defending champs showed their still one of the best teams in the league with a 6-0 win over the Blades.
The Thunder had the territorial advantage most of the game, but could only get one past Blades starting goaltender Mariah Fujimagari when Markham forward Victoria Bach lit the lamp at 6:45 for a power play goal.
It was more of the same in the second, with the Thunder adding two more goals early, with Jess Jones connecting at 2:15 and Laura Stacey adding a shorthanded tally at 4:22.
Lauren Dahm took over for Fujimagari halfway through the middle period and was spectacular in net, but the Markham offense continued to roll in the third period where the Thunder would add three more, starting with Ailish Forfar at 3:25.
Jones would add a power play goal at 4:22, and Nicole Brown added another Markham shorthanded goal at 13:16 for the 6-0 final. Defenseman Laura Fortino finished the game with four assists for the Thunder, while forward Nicole Kosta had three helpers.
Thunder netminder Erica Howe was a perfect 24 saves on 24 shots for the shutout.
Scratches for the Blades were Carrie Atkinson, Jess Coventry, and Alexis Miller.
Unlike the NHL and AHL that dress 20 players, and the ECHL that dresses 18, the CWHL allows team to dress 22 players. The Blades had a full compliment while Markham skated with just 21.
Prior to the start of the game the Markham Thunder raised their Clarkson Cup Banner in a long ceremony, which pushed the actual puck drop more than a half hour past the original starting time.
Saturday’s contest was Markham forward Dania Simmonds’ 149th consecutive regular season CWHL game, setting a new CWHL record. After the game she announced her retirement in an interview shown on Twitter. She was selected as the first star of the game.
It’s odd to see “body checking” listed as a penalty, but in women’s hockey it’s not allowed. It used to be within the rules, and was used in the 1990 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Soon after the rule was passed that there would be no body checking in women’s hockey. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen–one needs only watch a Canada vs USA women’s game to see a decent amount of it–but it’s supposed to be kept to a minimum.
The three stars of the game were:
1) MAR – 19 Dania Simmonds
2) MAR – 8 Laura Fortino
3) MAR – 22 Jess Jones
The 210Sports Player of the game was Lauren Dahm.
WORCESTER 0 0 0 – 0
MARKHAM 1 2 3 – 6
1st Period-1, MARKHAM, Bach 1 (Rattray, Bozek), 6:54 (PP). Penalties-Brown Wor (body checking), 5:52; Stathopoulos Wor (hooking), 13:05; Barbara Mar (hooking), 15:06.
2nd Period-2, MARKHAM, Jones 1 (Stacey, Fortino), 2:15. 3, MARKHAM, Stacey 1 (Fortino, Kosta), 5:40 (SH). Penalties-Jones Mar (slashing), 0:07; Larocque Mar (body checking), 3:47; Kickham Wor (delay of game), 11:56; Turner Wor (cross checking), 15:30; Webster Mar (hooking), 19:20.
3rd Period-4, MARKHAM, Forfar 1 (Woods, Fortino), 3:25. 5, MARKHAM, Jones 2 (Kosta, Stacey), 4:22 (PP). 6, MARKHAM, Brown 1 (Kosta, Fortino), 13:16 (SH). Penalties-Stathopoulos Wor (high sticking), 4:15; Harris Wor (body checking), 5:17; Woods Mar (hooking), 12:31; Larocque Mar (holding), 16:01.
Shots on Goal-WORCESTER 8-8-8-24. MARKHAM 15-11-17-43.
Power Play Opportunities-WORCESTER 0 / 0; MARKHAM 2 / 0.
Goalies-WORCESTER, Fujimagari 0-1-0-0 (17 shots-14 saves); Dahm 0-0-0-0 (26 shots-23 saves). MARKHAM, Howe 1-0-0-0 (24 shots-24 saves).