Clarkson Cup Playoff Preview

(Mar. 12, 2018)

2017-18 Clarkson Cup Playoffs

#2 Kunlun Red Star (21-6-1, 43 points) v. #3 Calgary Inferno (17-7-4, 38 points)

Game 1: Friday, March 16 – 7:30 PM – Angus Glen Community Centre (Markham, ON)

Game 2: Saturday, March 17 – 4:30 PM – Angus Glen Community Centre (Markham, ON) – CWHL Live

Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, March 18 – 5:30 PM – Angus Glen Community Centre (Markham, ON) – CWHL Live

Series Preview

At the top of the standings all season long, the Kunlun Red Star has proven to be a Clarkson Cup contender in just their first season in the CWHL. Under the leadership of two-time Clarkson Cup winning head coach Digit Murphy, KRS have capitalized on two of the best single-season performances in CWHL history. Up front, Kelli Stack has delivered an Angela James Bowl winning season as the CWHL’s scoring leader. Stack accrued 48 points (26 G, 22 A) over 28 games this season, averaging 1.71 points per game. The Cleveland, Ohio natives 48 points are the highest single-season total since 2011-12. Alongside veteran defence Jessica Wong and assists specialist Zoe Hickel, the top line attack for the Red Star has been nearly unstoppable. Meanwhile, between the posts, 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Noora Räty has been nearly unbeatable, leading the CWHL in both goals-against average (1.71) and save percentage (.937). The Finnish standout also tied with Les Canadiennes netminder, Emerance Maschmeyer, for a new CWHL single-season mark for shutouts, recording 6 in 16 wins this season.

With the largest contingent of players missing for a majority of the season due to Olympic centralization, the Calgary Inferno displayed the depth of talent they possess as a franchise all season long. Calgary was the hottest team to start 2017-18, beginning the season with 13 consecutive games without a regulation loss. Defensive stalwarts Katelyn Gosling and Jacquie Pierri have provided an anchor for the Inferno, while forwards Brittany Esposito, Iya Gavrilova, and rookie Sophie Shirley have stepped up in the absence of Calgary’s Olympic caliber playmakers. However, like the three other teams who have qualified for the Clarkson Cup playoffs, Calgary has received a boost heading into their playoff push with the return of two of their 11 Olympians. Brianne Jenner and Blayre Turnbull have come back elevating the speed of the Inferno’s attack once more. Both were top offensive threats for the Inferno in their Chairman’s Trophy campaign just a season ago.

2017-18 Head-to-Head (CGY won series 3-0-1)

Oct. 28: KRS 4 CGY 3 (OT)
Oct. 29: CGY 4 KRS 1
Feb. 7: CGY 3 KRS 2 (SO)
Feb. 9: CGY 3 KRS 2

2017-18 Stats Leaders

Kunlun Red Star

Points: Kelli Stack (48)
Goals: Kelli Stack (26)
Assists: Zoe Hickel (26)
PIMs: Stephanie Anderson (48)
PPG: Kelli Stack (5)
SHG: Stephanie Anderson/Zoe Hickel (1)
GAA: Noora Raty (1.71)
SV%: Noora Raty (.937)

Calgary Inferno

Points: Brittany Esposito (25)
Goals: Brittany Esposito (16)
Assists: Iya Gavrilova (18)
PIMs: Kelly Murray/Jacquie Pierri (26)
PPG: Brittany Esposito (7)
SHG: Kayla Gardner/Louise Warren (1)
GAA: Lindsey Post (2.21)
SV%: Lindsey Post (.913)

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