Thunder Fall Just Short in Season Opener

Brampton was back with a chip on its shoulder, but still struggled against the Inferno

From the opening banner raising, the visitors just couldn’t put their opponent away in a rematch from last year’s Clarkson Cup playoffs between the Calgary Inferno and Brampton Thunder.

The Thunder played two games against the Inferno in Calgary to start off the CWHL 2016-17 season and lost both 3-2, once in a shootout and once in regulation.  They picked up a valuable point, but some kinks were yet to be worked out in the first games of the season.

Firsts, Firsts, Firsts

The Thunder scored their first goal of the season courtesy of Sarah Edney, with first round draft pick Laura Stacey also netting her first goal over the weekend. However, the Thunder struggled to respond to the furious pace set by the Inferno over both games. With Brampton’s management emphasizing big physical forwards in this year’s draft, the emphasis seems to still be on physicality rather than goals.

Goalie See, Goalie Do

The Inferno had rookie phenom Emerance Maschmeyer between the pipes for the season opener on October 8, and that seemed to set the tone for the evening. Thunder veteran Erica Howe saved 33 shots but could not save the night in the shootout after the Thunder rallied through a two-goal deficit. While the steadfast duo of Howe and Liz Knox will again be anchoring the Thunder this season, it points to an issue with scoring (or lack thereof) on the Thunder front line. Then again, it’s hard to get a puck past Maschmeyer (also known as Canada’s future in net).

New Year, New Me(an)

Brampton started off the new season with two chips on their shoulder. One, a revenge plot for last year’s playoff bounce. The other, a seemingly unending need to crosscheck, throw the body, and generally mix it up both during the period and between whistles.

While this method has helped them in previous seasons to impose their will physically on the ice and frustrate their opponents, it only hindered them this past weekend, with the Inferno burning them time and time again with power play goals. Brampton captain Jocelyne Larocque also earned herself a 10-minute misconduct, further poking holes in the already shaky Thunder outing.

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

While Brampton plays an exciting, fast-paced, and physical game; the tendency for body first, puck second has only burned them thus far into the first weekend of the season.

With rookies and veterans also shuffling for spots out of camp, it will be on head coach Tyler Fines to tinker with the Thunder formula to get a win out of next weekend’s at-home matchup with Montreal on Saturday. The game will be streamed on CWHL Live.