Kristina Lavoie was one of the players you wouldn’t expect to see in the lineup of a sudden-death shootout.
But the forward in fact turned out to be the only scorer in a six-round duel, tucking the puck past Katie Fitzgerald’s pads to ultimately give the Beauts a much-needed 4-3 win over the Riveters on Friday night.
Lavoie’s shootout winner earned her the first star of the game and the adulation of a fuller crowd at HarborCenter. At least one Gay-Straight Alliance and a couple of youth teams helped fill the stands for You Can Play Night, getting to see the Beauts’ first shootout win of the season.
The Riveters drew first blood in the opening five minutes of the game, shoving the puck in through a scrum in front of Amanda Leveille’s crease. But unlike two weeks ago, the Beauts battled back and kept going, trading chances with New York and getting right in Fitzgerald’s wheelhouse. Megan Bozek tied the score with a beautiful coast-to-coast goal to close out the first period, then Corinne Buie broke the tie in the second to give the Beauts a lead for the first time in a while.
And then Amanda Kessel happened.
Finally back on the ice after missing much of the first half of the season, she scored her first two goals, both of them to tie the game back up after Buie, then Shiann Darkangelo, gave Buffalo the lead. Her first was a lightning-quick rebound goal after Leveille got dragged out of position, and her second was on the power play in the midst of a Buffalo penalty spree. Kessel gave a lot of power and speed to the Riveters’ forecheck, though the Beauts did admirably to force the offense wide and allow Leveille to see the puck.
“I feel like the team and I really connected,” Leveille said of her defense. “I gave up rebounds and they were always there to clear them out. They blocked a bunch of shots.
“I just feel like as a defensive unit, we were all one, and we all had the same idea going forward and it really paid off.”
D Sarah Casorso mentioned that the Beauts had, for the most part, kept their lines the same throughout practice, which helped players jell with one another.
“That's where the chemistry starts, in my opinion,” she said. “The more games we have [like that], the better it’s gonna be.”
Indeed, the offense looked much more together than in recent games (with the impact line once again being Emily Janiga centering Darkangelo and Buie). The Kourtney Kunichika line also got in some solid forechecking, while Casorso and Bozek managed the blueline well in Emily Pfalzer’s absence. Kelley Steadman was also out of the lineup again due to coaching duties at RMU.
The Beauts leave HarborCenter with a win under their belts and won't be back for a month (Feb. 26 against Connecticut). Their next game is scheduled for Feb. 4 against the Riveters one more time, at Barnabas Health Hockey House.