As the two-week holiday break comes to a close in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), teams who had a slow start to the season will try to turn things around in the New Year.
Heading into the break, the last place Burlington Barracudas (1-8-0) got their first win of the season against the Toronto Furies (4-5-4) in overtime.
With a new head coach, the Barracudas are looking to improve their stats and move up the ranks in the second half of the season.
“This team is good enough to win,” says Burlington coach Robin Bird. “This team can win. They just have to stay positive when they’re down, no matter what happens.”
The Barracudas will have a tough challenge in their first opponent of the New Year, the surging Boston Blades (8-2-0), at home at Appleby Arena on Jan. 7 and 8.
In their inaugural season last year, the Blades only mustered 10 wins in 26 games mostly due to a small roster, including several part-time players which resulted in a very short bench at most games.
“This season, we have added both quantity and quality,” says Boston general manager Paul Hendrickson. “Our new players include USA national team players Molly Schaus, Kelli Stack, Gigi Marvin, and Meghan Duggan (joining this month) as well as several talented non-national team players. As a result, we have had a full bench for every game, as well as a significant influx of highly talented players.”
The second place Blades carry a four-game winning streak into the New Year, chasing the first place Montreal Stars (11-1-0) who are currently on a hot eight-game winning streak.
Boston handed Montreal their only loss of the season, 4-2, back on Nov. 19.
“We have a lot of new players, so we are still settling in to standard line combinations, power play and penalty kill units,” says Hendrickson. “We hope to reach our peak performance level as we approach the playoffs and the Clarkson Cup.”
The defending Clarkson Cup champion Montreal Stars are hosting the Furies at Desmarteau Rink, also on Jan. 7 and 8, where Toronto will be looking for a fresh start with new coaches behind the bench.
The match up features a handful of 2010 Canadian Olympic gold medalists including tournament MVP and CWHL first pick Meghan Agosta who leads the league in scoring with 21 goals and 14 assists in 12 games.
After Agosta, the Stars boast another five players who top off the six leading scorers in the league; Caroline Ouellette (17 goals, 17 assists), Sarah Vaillancourt (7 goals, 18 assists), Vanessa Davidson (10 goals, 8 assists), Noemie Marin (7 goals, 11 assists), and Catherine Ward (1 goal, 17 assists).
Both the Brampton Hockey Club (4-5-2) and the newly added Alberta Hockey Club (3-4-0) have the weekend off as their game was postponed until February.