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Kunlun ousts former champion in triple OT, heads into Clarkson Cup final

(People's Daily Online)    09:45, March 20, 2018

Kunlun Red Star entered the playoff final in the Clarkson Cup after beating the Calgary Inferno the past Sunday. The first-year team will face the Markham Thunder in the championship game on Sunday, March 25, in Toronto.

The Sunday battle between the Kunlun and the Inferno was quite a challenge for both teams. The game went on for 114 minutes until Alex Carpenter ended the game in favor of Kunlun with a golden goal.

“It was total team effort. Everyone is exhausted. Everyone gave their all.” Kunlun coach Digit Murphy said, “The energy on the goal that scored, I was very impressed with Zoe (Hickel) and Carp (Alex Carpenter) that they had like just keep going. I think that’s how they came to score.”

Murphy continued: “But I think the biggest difference was Noora (Raty). No puck got behind her. There was one point of the game and I just saw her like it was almost like the puck is in slow motion and she is just able to pick it up.”

Goalie Noora Raty’s shutout marked 66 saves against the Inferno. She said:“(In the third overtime) Scoring goal is out of my control, so I can only do my job. I was telling myself: next save, next save, next save. Just focus on the next shot. If you think ahead too far, the shot will end in the nets. You kind of tell your head, focus now, next save, nothing future or past.”

The Sunday game was highlighted with Raty’s strong saves. In the first period, Kunlun had fierce offense. Alex Carpenter, Stephanie Anderson and Zoe Hickel got several attempt shots but all were blocked by Inferno goalie Delayne Brian. Inferno came back on the offense in the second period, including at least two threatening chances in the Kunlun zone. But Kunlun was able to stop them with Raty’s excellent 10 saves. In the third period, Hickel and Kelli Stack pressured hard but didn’t have any success up to the crease. As the clock ticking to the period end, both teams kept trading dangerous chances but all stopped at the goalies, with Raty making whopping 17 saves. As regulation ended with a scoreless tie, the game went to overtime.

The Kunlun continued their strong play in the first overtime, featured by Stack and Carpenter. A feed from Carpenter to Rachel Llanes almost led to a goal but again was saved by Brian. In the second overtime, the teams had their seventh power play with Inferno raining 13 shots and Kunlun blocking them all. In the third overtime, players from both teams started to get sloppier except for Raty who looked just as efficient as she did at the start of the game. At 114:01 into the game, Hickel passed to Stack to Carpenter who made a move and poked the puck past Brian. Carpenter became the OT hero of this game.

The Kunlun had two previous games with the Inferno of the playoff series, with one lose (0-3) and one win (3-2). The Sunday victory paved their way into the final.

This year’s Clarkson Cup Final saw two first-year teams, the Kunlun and the Thunder. Both upset the last two champions. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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