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NWHL Recap: Week 6

The Pride find their offense and the Beauts unravel in another third period.

Jess Jones of the Buffalo Beauts and Michelle Picard of the Metropolitan Riveters battling for a puck after a faceoff.
Mike Murphy

The Boston Pride sink the Connecticut Whale

Boston 5, Connecticut 1

Pride goals: Emily Field (2) at ES, Jillian Dempsey (3) at ES, Jillian Dempsey (4) at ES, Dana Trivigno (1) at ES, Dana Trivigno (2) at ES

Whale goal: Kelly Babstock (2) at ES

The breakout game that Boston Pride fans have been waiting for finally arrived on Sunday.

The Pride’s first line of Dana Trivigno, Jillian Dempsey and Emily Field had themselves a game. The first goal of the game came from the stick of Field who slipped a seemingly harmless shot through the five hole of Sydney Rossman on the rush to put Boston up 1-0. About four minutes later Boston cashed in on the rush again when Trivigno set up Dempsey right on top of the Whale’s crease. Dempsey made no mistake and tucked it home under Rossman’s right arm which was retreating after a failed poke check attempt.

Five and a half minutes into the second period Dempsey tapped home an unbelievable pass from Field, who drove around the net trailed by two Connecticut defenders before slipping a no-look pass to the captain. Boston finished the second period with a 13-5 shot differential even after taking two minor penalties. The 3-0 start after the first 40 minutes of the game was just what the visiting Pride needed after struggling to score goals in the first five weeks of the NWHL season.

Boston opened scoring in the third period when Trivigno fired another Field pass from the left wing faceoff circle that got past Rossman’s blocker. Less than a minute later Kelly Babstock spoiled Brittany Ott’s shutout bid after firing home a gorgeous cross-crease pass from Sam Faber to cut Boston’s lead to 4-1. Unfortunately for Connecticut, Babstock’s goal proved to be the only marker for the home team.

The Pride regained their lead at the 11:46 mark of the third period when Trivigno carried the puck from her own blue line, chipped it around Hanna Beattie, and ripped it top shelf for her second goal of the game. The former Whale star finished the game with 10 shots and the first three point game of her NWHL career.

Whale head coach Ryan Equale took his rookie goaltender out of the game after Trivigno’s first third period goal. Rossman has been one of the best stories of the 2017-18 season, but the Pride found a way to chase her out of the game with just an .818 save percentage. It will be interesting to see how she bounces back on Saturday against the Beauts.

In addition to all of the other storylines from Sunday’s contest between the Whale and Pride it also marked the return of Kaleigh Fratkin to the NWHL. Fratkin had a penalty and a primary assist in her first game with the Boston Pride. She signed with the team last week.

Player of the Game

Really, Boston’s entire first line deserves the nod for Player of the Game after the team’s impressive effort and 5-1 win on the road. With that being said Emily Field’s three primary points stood out as an exceptional performance. She had points on four consecutive Pride goals and, like her linemates, finished the game with a +5 plus/minus rating. Field looked crafty and dangerous on the rush and the Whale simply had no answers for her and Boston’s top line in the transition game.


The Riveters rally in the third and defeat the Beauts

Metropolitan 4, Buffalo 2

Buffalo goals: Jess Jones (1) at ES, Kristin Lewicki (1) at ES

Riveters goals: Tatiana Rafter (2) at ES, Kelly Nash (2) on PP, Miye D’Oench (5) on PP, Rebecca Russo (6) at ES

Just two minutes into the first period Jess Jones scored her first NWHL goal after finding a loose puck in the slot and floating a backhander past Katie Fitzgerald. After that the Beauts managed to kill off the Riveters first power play opportunity of the game. It was a promising start for Buffalo, who came into Sunday’s game with an 0-2-0 record against the Riveters.

But midway through the first Tatiana Rafter found a rebound in the slot and rifled it past Amanda Leveille to tie the game at 1-1. At the end of the first the Riveters led the Beauts in shots 13-6.

Tatiana Rafter celebrating her second goal of the NWHL season against her former team, the Buffalo Beauts.
Mike Murphy

The second period was frustrating for the home team. Despite out-shooting Buffalo 11-7 and having several high-quality scoring chances the Riveters left the second period down by a goal. Buffalo took its second lead of the game courtesy of a gorgeous top shelf wrist shot by Kristin Lewicki who was set up by her Adrian College teammate Kaylyn Schrocka.

After forty minutes of play it appeared that Buffalo had a real chance to upset the Riveters and spoil their undefeated season. But it was not to be. The Riveters, for the second straight game against Buffalo, turned it on the third period and kept the Beauts on their heels for the final 20 minutes of the game.

The Riveters scored three goals in the third including two power play goals in a span of 64 seconds. Less than three minutes after Miye D’Oench’s power play goal Rebecca Russo put the Riveters up 4-2 with a slap shot on the rush that served as a fitting exclamation point with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.

Perhaps the biggest story of Sunday’s game was the shot differential, especially in the third period after pouring shots on net in the first half of the period. The Riveters out-shot the Beauts 16-2 in the third, which means that the home team had more goals than the Beauts had shots in the final period of the game. Here’s more on the Beauts shot generation issues from Erik Wollschlager of the 716sportspodcast.com:

Leveille is facing 34 shots a night, and the Beauts are generating only 26. It will be interesting to see how coaches Ric Seiling and Craig Muni deal with this deficit. It is something that the pair must address in the next few weeks, lest the team lose even more ground as the season heads toward the halfway point.

Clearly the Beauts need to improve their play in the third period and find a way to close the gap on their shot differential. It doesn’t help that they’re the only team to play the Riveters three times this season, but putting just 15 shots on goal while allowing 40 is not a recipe for success.

Player of the Game

Kelly Nash earned honors as the NWHL Player of the Week because of her performance this weekend. Nash, in just her second NWHL game, had a power play goal and a primary assist at even strength in addition to putting six shots on goal. Nash earned praise from head coach Chad Wiseman after the game as having the best hockey IQ on the team. Her hockey smarts were on full display on Sunday. Nash’s ability to find shooting lanes on the royal road made her an enchanting player to watch every time she was in the offensive zone.


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