Furies Split Season Opening Series Versus Markham Thunder
The Toronto Furies hit the ice for their first regular season game on Saturday, October 14th against the newly relocated Markham Thunder. With three players (Natalie Spooner, Erin Ambrose, & Renata Fast) off playing with Canada’s National Team, and a star goalie who retired from the game, the Toronto Furies were a hungry team with a lot to prove. The second game of opening weekend came less than 24 hours later as both teams were back on the ice at 1:00 pm on Sunday, October 15th.
It was only fitting to start off the CWHL season for both teams, with back-to-back games against GTA rivals, which was appreciated by all attending. From the drop of the puck the intensity was evident, and the emotions were high. Both teams came out of the first period scoreless, and only one penalty per side.
The second period entailed a lot of physicality, which resulted in several minor penalties for each team. Markham did get one goal by the Furies goaltender, #30 Sonja van der Bliek, at the 11:48 mark of the period on a 5-on-3 Thunder power play. #24 Kristen Barbara, from Mount Hope, Ontario was credited with the first regular season goal in Markham Thunder history, unassisted.
The third period was rough for the Furies who took three minor penalties and hurt their chance at mounting a comeback in the game. While Furies goaltender. Sonja van der Bliek, stood her ground against the storm of Markham’s opportunities, the Furies were shutout in their opening game, for a final score of 1-0.
The Toronto Furies awarded their #FuriesPOTG (Player Of The Game) award to #30 Sonja van der Bliek.
Sunday’s match saw #37 Liz Knox starting in the net over #27 Erica Howe, who had recorded a shutout the night before for the Markham Thunder. #30 van der Bliek remained the starting goaltender for the Furies, however, rookie forward #14 Alessandra Bianchi and defender #11 Jessica Platt were subbed in for #93 Cassidy Delainey and #8 Sydney Kidd, respectively.
The Thunder took an early 1-0 lead in the game off a goal from #9 Kristen Richards. The Thunder also killed off three minor penalties in the first period compared to the Furies single penalty.
The Furies found themselves short-handed to start the second, but it wasn’t the start of the second that people will remember. In the last few minutes of the second, the Furies managed to score two goals in 36 seconds. #19 Brittany Zuback scored her first ever CWHL goal, followed by #17 Emily Fulton. The commentator didn’t even have a chance to announce who assisted Zuback’s goal, before Fulton netted her first of the night.
The third period consisted of constant pressure from the Thunder, but Sonja van der Bliek had an answer for everything in the period. 14 total saves in the third period, held the Thunder scoreless as the Furies took the second matchup of the weekend, 2-1.
The Toronto Furies awarded their #FuriesPOTG (Player Of The Game) to #19 Brittany Zuback
The Toronto Furies play their next games on October 28 & 29 at home against the Vanke Rays.
#30 Sonja van der Bliek & #19 Brittany Zuback
Q: You had an exceptional performance both nights – what did you do in the off season to prepare for this point and what are you most excited about this season.
Van der Bliek – A: “Throughout most of the summer, and particularly leading up to the season opener, I skated a few times a week at men’s pro skates through In-Tech High Performance. I also worked with trainer Adam Shoff, who introduced me to some neurological activation exercises that I’ve found extremely helpful.”
I’m particularly excited about this season because of the great group of players and staff we have. It’s always challenging during the Olympic years to lose your best players to centralization, and this year is no different, but we have an awesome group of girls who are excited to be here and make an impact.
Zuback – A: “Felt pretty good to get that first goal out of the way, build some confidence early in the year and show that I can contribute and help the team out even though I haven’t played competitively in a while.”
Q: After splitting the weekend with Markham and going 1-1 in the standings how do you feel the Furies will rank this season.
Van der Bliek – A: “I think it’s too early to tell how we’ll rank, especially with two new teams in the league this year, but it goes without saying that we expect to be competitive and in a playoff position. With Markham being our GTA rival, and usually pretty close to us in the standings, we know how important those points are every time we play them – that’s the attitude we went into this past weekend with.”
Zuback – A: “I think we match up pretty well with Markham and that it’s going to be a battle all year long. Once we start to really get comfortable and click with one another on the ice I think we will be a hard team to beat. We had some awesome goaltending and I was proud of the way we were able to realize where we were lacking at times and have players step up. I think our compete level is awesome and we just need to make sure we are taking care of the puck and capitalizing when we get the opportunity.”
Furies Fan Fest
The opening weekend for the Furies was much more than the two games, but also incorporated an awesome piece of entertainment for the fans before Saturday’s game. The Furies arrived to the arena on a pink fire truck, while activations with Red Bull, Lululemon were on site. The Furies also incorporated a beer garden sponsored by Big Rock Brewery! The Etobicoke Dolphins Minor Hockey Association were also around the arena during their #PinkTheRink tournament!