The road-warrior Whale (2-1) play their fourth game today at 6:30 EST. The Whale will officially be more than halfway through their six-game, season-opening road trip. It will be their first tilt against the undefeated Boston Pride (4-0).
It was not until the fifth game of last season that the Whale faced off against the would-be Isobel Cup Champions. (The Whale won that game, 4-3).
Welcome Back, NWHL. Welcome Back, Knight.
The Whale return to action with three players sporting new hardware; Kelli Stack, Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno all won gold with Team USA at the Four Nations Cup. The Pride have six(!) returning from Finland. None will play a bigger role in today’s game than Team USA’s Hilary Knight, who makes her NWHL season debut.
Her return will deepen an already potent Pride lineup that features rookie Alex Carpenter (3G, 3A) and Brianna Decker (3G, 3A). Only Kelly Babstock (3G, 4A) and Skarupa (5G, 4A) have more points league-wide.
Who’s In Net?
It would be a shock to see anyone but Brittany Ott in net for the Pride. Although Lauren Slebodnick had a strong showing in her only game so far, Ott is a bona fide number one. And, after a long break, she should be ready to go. The decision will be murkier for the Whale, but after Shenae Lundberg’s shaky outing last game, bet on Nicole Stock to be in there. The Whale coaching staff is still feeling out what they have in their 1a/1b goalie tandem.
Whale Keys to the Game
Offense From the Second Line, Defense From the Third
We can expect the Whale first line to continue its offensive onslaught. The Kosta-Trivigno-Babstock line and its hounding forecheck will need to sustain pressure as well as to limit neutral ice turnovers against a deadly-fast Pride squad. (Read more on Dana Trivigno in the NWHL’s official site’s Whale Watching column.) It remains to be seen who will suit up on the third line for the Whale, but strong defensive end work from Sam Faber and Micaela Long can alleviate pressure for their teammates.
More Than a Game
The NWHL has joined with Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D.), a mental health awareness campaign in memory of Daron Richardson. Via the D.I.F.D. website:
Do It For Daron (DIFD) encourages young people to talk openly about mental illness and to ask for help when needed. DIFD provides young people, their parents, teachers, coaches and other adult role models with the resources, outlets and, most importantly, courage to overcome the shame and fear of discussing mental illness.
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Here’s to a lot of shots.
AND! Let’s get the comment party started. Be civil, be fun, be excellent to each other. Let’s talk about the game. Use this as your game thread!
Scratches for tonight’s game. Looks like Kaliya Johnson is still out.