Since their inception, the Toronto Furies have worked tirelessly to engage in social and charitable causes. As Febraury 14, 2015 marked Hockey Day in Canada, it was an ideal showcase for the Furies to host their Pink at the Rink event. Hosting their cross-town rivals, the Brampton Thunder, at the MasterCard Centre, this latest chapter in the Battle of Toronto took on a humanitarian cause.
Of note, both teams incorporated pink into their jerseys, marking the first time in CWHL history that a Pink at the Rink event had both teams sporting the color. The Furies donned home whites with pink numbering and pink stripes adorning the sleeves and lower part of the jersey. In addition, said jerseys were accentuated by the pink ribbon. The Thunder were garbed in a sharp, fully pink jersey, setting the tone for a memorable event to be treasured by both fans and players alike.
The game itself would see the first eight minutes resulting in a defensive stalemate. With former Brampton blueliner Tara French serving a penalty for tripping, Laura Fortino would capitalize, providing the only goal of the first period, slipping the puck past Christina Kessler at the 8:12 mark.
Despite Brampton serving two penalties in the second stanza, rookie backstop Erica Howe nullified both. Although second-year skater Jessica Vella would solve Howe at the 9:56 mark, it would not take long for Brampton to reclaim the lead. Only 57 seconds later, Brampton captain Jocelyne Larocque scored, with assists going to Jennifer Kirk and Jesse Scanzano, who would also earn the assist on Fortino’s goal.
Howe would be the story of the third period, facing an astounding 24 Furies shots. Although Brampton managed 19 shots in the first two periods, the third resulted in only five. Although Natalie Spooner would tie the game at the 8:26 mark, it would prove to be the only time that Howe would allow a goal in the third.
Despite two power play opportunities for Toronto, including a 5-on-3 for 56 seconds of play, Howe was sharp. Her efforts would ensure that the game went to overtime, providing Brampton with an opportunity to still win the game.
After overtime failed to resolve the deadlock, a shootout was required. Only adding to the excitement of an already thrilling contest, the Furies went with Spooner, Kelly Terry and Jenelle Kohanchuk, while Brampton countered with Jess Jones, Jesse Scanzano and Laura Fortino.
With Jones skating first for Brampton, she would score the only goal of the shootout, earning First Star of the Game recognition. Spooner was awarded the Second Star, while Howe earned the Third Star nod.
Regardless of the score, the true winners were the potential lives saved with funds raised through the event. Furies and Thunder jerseys were not only autographed, but auctioned off, with proceeds going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, providing the winning bidders with a remarkable piece of CWHL hockey history and the knowledge that their support for an inspiring group of women fighting the disease is one worth the effort.
The momentum that the Furies and Thunder have created shall surely follow into next weekend as the Montreal Stars host their annual fundraiser for Breast Cancer at the Centre Etienne Desmarteau. Coincidentally, the Furies shall also participate in the event, which will also feature the Stars game-worn pink jerseys being auctioned off for breast cancer research in Quebec.
As the CWHL and its franchises continue to expand their role as hockey humanitarians, the spirit of social responsibility symbolizes to their fans the meaning of compassion and benevolence. Considering that the women of the CWHL are helping to transform the sporting landscape, with values such as equality and fairness, it was only fitting that Pink at the Rink was celebrated on Hockey Day in Canada. If hockey is the fabric that has strengthened the bonds of friendship and fair play for a proud nation, unifying people of all backgrounds in a strong common love, Pink at the Rink can serve as a proud extension.
Photo credits: Jess Bazal