Calgary Inferno forward Kelty Apperson chats with a few young fans ahead of the second period against the Toronto Furies during a Canadian Women’s Hockey League game at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre as a part of Hockey Alberta Female Hockey Day. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Calgary Inferno and Toronto Furies put on a show for local hockey fans

The Toronto Furies won the CWHL showcase game 4-1 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre

From fist bumps to toe drags, it was simply a day to remember for young female hockey fans.

Saturday, the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre was abuzz with hockey activity, all in the name of growing the game and bringing young female talent closer together for Female Hockey Day.

Hosted by Hockey Alberta, a day of learning skills, meeting and even chatting with professional players from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, young hockey players also got to watch the pros play a game in the new building.

“They were really gracious and they were amazing on the ice, they were happy for us to come out here and it was a humbling experience. Fun to interact with them and then see them at the gate cheering us on,” said Inferno forward Kelty Apperson.

“It was fun to be a part of. I think it’s important to promote the game at this level and all ages, there were some adults on the ice (earlier Saturday), that was really amazing to encourage other females and grow the game and see the direction it’s going in.”

In the showcase event of the day, with the Calgary Inferno as the defacto home side, it was the Toronto Furies who struck quickly.

They scored twice early in the opening frame to open up a 2-0 advantage.

Still, it was tough to discern where near capacity crowd allegiances swayed– but on a day that was bigger than who supports who, the fans seemed content just to see their female hockey heroes play.

“We had a great crowd out there, all the little hockey girls. I loved all the signs about Women’s sports and females in sport. It was just great to see and great to play in front of those girls,” said Olympian and Furies captain Natalie Spooner, who was the first star with a goal in the game.

After falling behind 2-0, Calgary managed to climb back in the game late in the first period with a rocket of a shot by Kacey Bellamy.

Despite some heavy pressure from the Inferno late, they couldn’t find the equalizer. Spooner added a breakaway goal late in the third and the Furies also added an empty-net goal.

Ultimately, Toronto nabbed a 4-1 victory. Still, it was clear there was more than winning and losing on the line.

Through all the fun and smiles, there were some important lessons along the way, too.

Red Deer Midget AAA Sutter Fund Chiefs coach Bob Rutz was happy his team got to watch a CWHL game in their home rink Saturday. They also lent their dressing room to the Inferno and Rutz said the day as a whole was special for the hockey community in Red Deer.

“I think it’s excellent. Some of these girls are aspiring to play at the next level and those girls that play for the Inferno, those are high-end players,” said Rutz.

“It’s good for our girls to see what it’s like at the top level and watch them play and see their habits. It’s a great day to celebrate female hockey all-around.”

Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs player Darcee Hall, who played earlier in the day Saturday explained that being a part of Female Hockey Day in Alberta was big for her team because they get to set the stage for the next generation of players.

“It’s really special because we’re paving the way for the younger girls,” Hall said, adding that she was happy to watch her heroes play Saturday as well.

“Female sport is growing a lot and really fast, so I think it’s something really special to be a part of. You girls come out and watch us, it’s cool to be role models for them.”

Much like Hall, Spooner, who has a represented Canada all around the world on the ice, believes helping young players is how you inspire them to take up the game and stay involved in sport long term.

“Growing up when I got to meet my idols, that really sparked my dream,” she said.

“So for these girls to come out here and meet some of the Inferno players and watch this game, they can see themselves in us and down the road they’ll be able to do that for someone else hopefully. They can then dream of wanting to play in the CWHL or play for team Canada and pursue sport as a life.”



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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Calgary Inferno defenceman Kelly Murray battles with Toronto Furies forward Shiann Darkangelo in the first period of their Canadian Women’s Hockey League game at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. The Furies won the contest 4-1. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff) Calgary Inferno defenceman Kelly Murray battles with Toronto Furies forward Shiann Darkangelo in the first period of their Canadian Women’s Hockey League game at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. The Furies won the contest 4-1. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Calgary Inferno forward Brianna Jenner tries to tap a puck past Toronto Furies netminder Shea Tiley on Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre Saturday during a Canadian Women’s Hockey League game which was part of the Hockey Alberta Female Hockey Day. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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