Should one year have defined the fortunes of Western Canada’s lone entry in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the 2013-14 campaign delivered. Benefiting from a superlative draft class that included first overall pick Jessica Wong, world ball hockey champion DeLayne Brian and Canadian national women’s tackle football team member Julie Paetsch, the Inferno qualified for their first-ever Clarkson Cup.
Although the road to their first postseason, first winning season and other notable firsts were accomplished as a team, one player was the catalyst that propelled the club into a brave, new world. Danielle (Danny) Stone re-wrote practically every single Inferno single-season scoring record, including numerous rookie marks, setting a standard that provided her teammates with confidence while giving long-suffering fans hope.
Like fellow rookie Paetsch and the franchise’s first-ever captain, Chelsea Purcell, Stone represented a proud connection with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Considering that all three played their university hockey for the Huskies program, the chemistry between Stone, Purcell and Paetsch was highly evident. Reuniting for a new team and a new purpose, the result was giving Western Canadian hockey fans a winning franchise.
Her presence was a welcome boon for the Inferno’s offense, as head coach Tim Bothwell comments, “Danny has been a tremendous addition to our team this year. As a team, we were competitive last year, but were sorely in need of offense. Danny is a goal scorer and has been really terrific for us this year, giving us a real boost in that area. She is a big part of our power play that has been very good for us since Christmas and that definitely makes us a better more effective team.”
Hailing from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, she was a national competitor in track and field at the high school level. As an individual of Metis heritage, she is also part of a new generation of Aboriginal female hockey players that are serving as role models. Along with players such as Jamie Lee Rattray and Brigitte Lacquette, Stone is making an impression on the ice, providing hope, inspiration and ambition for young Aboriginal women.
Not since the days of the former Calgary Oval X-Treme, whose alumnae included Hayley Wickenheiser, Cassie Campbell and Tessa Bonhomme have hockey fans in Southern Alberta seen such a prolific scorer like Stone grace the ice. Of note, she would rank sixth overall in the CWHL scoring race with 25 points.
It would make Stone the first player in franchise history to rank so high in the scoring race while also making her the first to average more than a point per game. Taking into account that Paetsch finished ninth in the scoring race, while Jenna Cunningham (whose scoring records Stone broke) was 12th overall, it marked the first time in franchise history that three scorers finished in the top 12.
In addition, Stone’s 15 goals ranked second overall in league play behind Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 2014 Angela James Bowl winner. Her plus/minus rating of +17 ranked third overall behind Bettez and Montreal Stars captain Cathy Chartrand.
Stone would register six points in the first three games of her CWHL career, including a hat trick on November 22, 2013 against the defending Clarkson Cup champion Boston Blades. Whenever Stone registered a multi-point performance, the Inferno enjoyed a 4-1-0 mark.
In the last eight games of the season, Stone logged 12 points, including a four-game scoring streak to end the season. It would prove to be the most important performance in franchise history. Not only did Calgary enjoy a 6-2-0 mark, but won their last four consecutive games, another team first.
Closing out the season with a three-game home stand against Brampton, Stone logged six points for the franchise’s first-ever three-game sweep. The last game (contested on March 16) had special meaning for Stone and her teammates. Not only did the 4-0 win provide Calgary with its first-ever winning season, it gave goaltender DeLayne Brian with her first career shutout.
Although Inferno fans were disappointed that Stone did not receive any hardware at the 2014 CWHL Awards, there is no question that she highly deserved of recognition as League MVP or Rookie of the Year. As a side note, she was recognized as the CWHL Player of the Month in February 2014. Posting four playoff points, including a two-goal performance in a valiant loss to the Montreal Stars, Stone has proven that a sensational sophomore season is sure to follow.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”