By: Ella Bonaldi
On March 10th, Toronto’s CWHL team, the Toronto Furies, played the Calgary Inferno in the Clarkson Cup semifinals. In a best-of-three games matchup, three full games were needed to decide a winner.
Although the Furies were unable to advance, Toronto fans do have a lot to be proud of from the 2018-19 season. The trio of games really could’ve gone either way, with Toronto winning 3-1 in Game One, Calgary coming out on top by 3 goals in the second game, and Toronto losing 4-1 in Game Three.
After the first period, shots were 10-8 in favour of Inferno, but Carolyne Prevost quickly scored to make it a 1-1 game. Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse’s line had a few chances, and while they couldn’t get it past goaltender Alex Rigsby, they certainly proved that they are stars in the league.
By the end of the second period, shots were 27-13 for the Inferno, and Toronto was down 2-1. Brianna Decker (who participated at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game) scored her second goal of the night to make it 3-1 with just about 10 minutes remaining.
At the very end of the game, Toronto went on a Power Play in an exciting push to score. Soon after, it appeared that Spooner had scored but the referees called it off. Toronto pulled goalie Elaine Chuli in one last attempt, but unfortunately, Kacey Bellamy of the Inferno scored an empty netter to make it 4-1. Chuli made 30 saves in the game total.
This matchup really proved that the Toronto Furies are amazing women, on and off the ice. Natalie Spooner, a key player for the Furies, led the team with 15 goals and 11 assists in 26 games played this season. Not only is she the captain, but she was also nominated for the CWHL League MVP.
24-year-old Sarah Nurse was nominated for Rookie of the Year with 26 points in 26 games, and Courtney Kessel, Toronto Furies Head Coach, was nominated Coach of the Year. After a great year for the Furies, the future will certainly prove to be even more successful, and it has been great to see women’s hockey expanding and getting more coverage this season.
In the 2018-19 season, the Toronto Furies played 28 games and had a .500 record (14-14) in Kessel’s first year coaching the team. Previously, she coached in Canada’s National Team program, as well as serving as an assistant for the Oakville Hornets. As a player, she played five CWHL seasons from 2011 to 2017 and participated in three IIHF World Championships with Team Canada. This experience allowed her to relate to the team and gave her a chance to help set their goals for the season. This year, Kessel helped the Furies make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
What does the future hold for the Toronto Furies? With Sarah Nurse entering her second year in the CWHL, Furies fans have plenty to be excited about. She scored 14 goals this season alone, and it’s almost certain that she will be a leader on the team next season. As a black female hockey player, she is a minority, but fans across the city and CWHL fans, in general, have been inspired by her determination and success this season.
Today, the Calgary Inferno play Les Canadiennes Montreal at the Coca Cola Coliseum for a one-game CWHL championship final. The game is being broadcast on Sportsnet, the NHL Network and TVA Sports which is a huge step for women’s hockey.