Calgary Inferno Captain Rebecca Johnston chases after Toronto Furies Forward Sarah Nurse for the puck Saturday night. The Furies beat Calgary, 4-1, at the game on the first Female Hockey Day in Alberta. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

Toronto Furies beat Calgary Inferno on the inaugural Female Hockey Day

Young girls had the opportunity to meet and learn from their female hockey idols

The Toronto Furies were on fire Saturday night in the game against Calgary Inferno as part of the inauguration of Female Hockey Day.

They beat Calgary, 4-1.

Furies Head Coach Courtney Kessel said many aspects of the game went right for the team.

“Our goalie played tremendously,” she said. “We made a few adjustments in the game and the girls really stuck to the game plan and we battled it out. We blocked shots. We sacrificed our bodies.”

Ultimately, the team buried on opportunities more than Calgary, she said, even though Inferno led the game with 36 of shots on goal compared to the Furies’ 22.

“They may have possessed the puck a little longer, but we were in the shooting lanes, blocking shots and playing good in the defensive zone,” Kessel explained.

Furies Captain Natalie Spooner, who was the first star with a goal, said the team worked for the win as they are falling behind in the season and want to make the playoffs.

“We took advantage of our opportunities and shut them down when we needed and I thought our goalie played great too.”

In the first period, Furies player Shiann Darkangelo scored the first goal at the 5:47 mark with assists from Mackenzie MacNeil and Brittany Howard.

At 7:55, Sarah Nurse scored the Furies’ second goal with assists from Jenna Dingeldein and Spooner.

Calgary’s Kacey Bellamy scored at 13:31, with Rebecca Johnston and Katelyn Gosling assisting.

Neither team scored in the second period.

In the third period, Spooner wowed the crowd with an exciting breakaway goal, with Renata Fast assisting, which ensured their win. The final goal came from Jess Vella unassisted at 19:18.

Inferno Forward Kelty Apperson said Calgary had a ‘tough start.’

“That’s not the start that we need to gain all momentum and to claw back the rest of the game, it caught up to us,” she said.

A majority of the 600 fans who gathered in the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre Saturday night were young girls clad in bright red Inferno jerseys who had the opportunity to meet and learn from their hockey idols.

As part of Female Hockey Day, there were on and off-ice development sessions for players of all ages and skill levels as well as coaches and officials throughout the day.

“I think it is amazing to have female role models and one day they can name some of us instead of NHL players,” said Apperson. “I think that is the goal ultimately and that is the direction we’re going in.”

She added, “Those girls were just so grateful for that, and it was very evident that they want to be wearing the Inferno jersey one day. It was really amazing, too, to encourage other females and grow the game and see the direction it is going in and be positive that way.”

“Growing up when I got to meet my idols, that was something that really sparked my dream,” said Spooner, who is a two-time Olympian.

“So for these girls to be able to come out here and meet some of the Inferno players, watch our game, they can see themselves in us and down the road, they will be able to be that for someone else hopefully. They can then dream of wanting to play in the CWHL or play for Team Canada whatever it is and pursue the sport as a life.”

After winning the second game of the weekend against the Furies Sunday at WinSport, Calgary is currently in first place in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League this season with three points ahead of the next team, Les Canadiennes de Montreal.

Female Hockey Day was hosted by Hockey Alberta.

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