Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Inferno on fire as several new scoring standards set to be established in weekend series vs. Stars

With a playoff spot in sight, the red-hot Calgary Inferno are heading into their weekend series with the first-place Montreal Stars hoping to build on their momentum. No longer a last-place team, the chance to play for Lady Clarkson’s coveted Cup has strengthened morale and increased confidence. Adding to their motivation is the fact that several franchise scoring records could soon fall.

From the outset, Jenna Cunningham has tied Sam Hunt’s franchise record for most points in one season with 14. Cunningham also has the opportunity to surpass her own franchise record for most goals scored in one season. Having scored 10 goals in the 2010-11 inaugural season, which is also a franchise rookie record, Cunningham enters the Montreal series with eight goals. With three games against Montreal, the chance to register three goals and set a new mark is feasible.

Heading into the weekend series, Cunningham sits sixth in the CWHL scoring race. On pace to be the first player in the history of the Alberta/Calgary CWHL franchise to hit the 50-point mark, Cunningham currently has 35 career points.

Considering rookie sensation Danielle Stone has 13 points, she also has an opportunity to surpass Hunt’s mark. Should Stone bypass the 14-point mark, it would set the new franchise record for most points scored in one season by a rookie (of which Hunt also owns the mark).

Along with fellow rookie (and former Saskatchewan Huskies teammate) Julie Paetsch, both have eight goals this season. Both are only two goals away from tying Cunningham’s rookie record of 10 goals in one season and building a strong case as rookie of the year candidates.

While Lundy Day’s single season mark for most goalie wins in one season shall fall, it shall be a monumental task for it to take place against the top-ranked Montreal Stars, owners of an eight-game unbeaten streak. One player Calgary must focus on in their three-game set with Montreal is Vanessa (Vinny) Davidson. Less than six points away from the magical century mark, she may reach the milestone in Calgary.

Currently, Day holds the franchise record with four wins in one season. Kathy Desjardins and Delayne Brian have already set the franchise single season record for most combined wins by a goaltending pair with six. As each holds three wins each, both are looking for an opportunity to set the new standard. As a side note, Jessica Wong, the first overall pick of the 2013 CWHL Draft, is on pace this season to break Meaghan Mikkelson’s franchise record for most points in one season by a defender.

Although any victory against Montreal shall certainly be a hard-earned one, the ever improving Inferno are one of the true feel-good stories of the 2013-14 season. Considering that the conversation surrounding the franchise is about competing and setting new records, these are exciting times.

Optimism is certainly the buzzword in Calgary these days. After two difficult hard-luck seasons, the scoring trio of Cunningham, Paestch and Stone have certainly helped turn the corner. Complemented by the arrival of Jessica Wong and the acquisition of Shannon Szabados (plus the eligibility of Western Canadian star Christine Bestland in the 2014 CWHL Draft), playoffs may consistently be part of the lexicon. Following in the footsteps of legendary female hockey teams such as the Calgary Regents and the Calgary Oval X-Treme, the remarkable progress this season is testament to the commitment on part of players, coaches and management in writing a new chapter that all Calgary hockey fans can be proud of. 

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