Air Canada Centre to Host CWHL Women's Hockey on November 17

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IINovember 14, 2012

As a way of commemorating the agreement that the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs have shown to the CWHL, the Toronto Furies and Team Alberta shall participate in a contest at the Air Canada Centre. Occurring on November 17, the game shall be free to the public with the gates opening at 6:30 p.m.

Said agreement involves both NHL franchises providing financial support of $30,000 per season over five seasons to both the Furies and Team Alberta. The Furies feature several members from the Canadian national team including Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Wakefield and Rebecca Johnston, a gold medal winner from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Team Alberta boasts four members of the national team including Meaghan Mikkelson, a teammate of Johnston at Vancouver. Other members include Jocelyne Larocque, Tara Watchorn and Bobbi-Jo Slusar.  

Maple Leafs alumni Wendel Clark, Gary Leeman and Johnny Bower shall participate in an autograph session prior to the game. In addition, Geraldine Heaney and Hall of Famer Angela James will participate as well.

Sami Jo Small, a gold medalist from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics is the founder of the Toronto Furies, while Samantha Holmes, the former captain of the Strathmore Rockies, is the founder of Team Alberta.

The match has key implications on the season standings for both clubs. With the Furies and Alberta in the bottom of league standings, a sweep for either team may have great impact in determining who will have a better opportunity to qualify for the Clarkson Cup tournament in the spring.

Despite a rebuilt offense, the Furies have had their difficulties on the blue line. With 11 goals for, and 13 goals against, the Furies are in fourth place in the CWHL standings with a .375 winning percentage. Having gone winless at home, the Furies are in a must-win situation. The Furies leading scorer, Jenn Wakefield, sits fifth overall in the CWHL scoring race.

Team Alberta is last overall in the CWHL standings with a .333 winning percentage. Along with Brampton, Alberta is tied for most goals allowed with 15. More alarming is that Alberta has only managed to score eight goals. Their leading scorers, Kerri Sanders and Jenna Cunningham, only have three points each. With a penalty killing unit that has struggled during the season, Alberta must play mistake-free hockey in order to have an opportunity to win the contest.