Happy Halloween, y’all. If the NWHL was going trick-or-treating, the Boston Pride headed home with a four-pack of Reese’s cups while the Connecticut Whale went home with a rock.
Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not around the league...spooky style.
Treat: Sydney Baldwin, MIN | 2 goals, 4 assists in two games vs CTW
Sydney Baldwin earned herself a full-size Hershey bar. The Minnesota Whitecaps punished the Whale 7-2 Saturday afternoon, with Baldwin leading the way with a goal and three assists. She was a leader on the top powerplay unit, which generated four powerplay goals between Saturday and Sunday.
Her biggest play of the weekend was her primary assist on Haylea Schmid’s backbreaker with 22 seconds remaining in the second period to put the Caps on top 4-2. Just as the Whale were starting to pick up momentum, trying to enter the second intermission only down one, Baldwin rifled a shot from the mid-boards that ricocheted off a pair of defensive skates, off Schmid’s stick and in the net.
See, Baldwin understands the Luck of Whale. Just throw something at the net and the vengeful hockey gods will take care of the rest. That’s a heady play.
In addition to her six points, Baldwin also registered 11 shots on goal on the weekend. She had the primary assist on Stephanie Anderson’s game-tying goal on Sunday, as well.
Trick: Connecticut’s defense | 10 goals allowed vs MIN
Sonjia Shelly, don’t read this. You can take your 42-save Sunday and fun pack of m&ms and be on your way.
The rest of the Whale? The Great Pumpkin ain’t leavin’ nuttin’ for you.
In truth, Connecticut did not play that poorly in either game. The final score on Saturday was more indicative of Minnesota executing than dominating. They simply allowed far too many sustained offensive zone shifts and did not get a single bounce their way.
Once again, their penalty kill was their Achilles heel, allowing four more goals on the advantage. Their kill rate is- brace yourself- 47.6%. That’s 11 goals in 21 attempts. That’s scarier than anything Stephen King ever penned.
But more than anything, their defense simply couldn’t come up with the stop when it mattered. Minnesota scored the aforementioned dagger with 22 seconds remaining in the second on Saturday to dash the Whale’s hopes. Then on Sunday, Connecticut found the back of the net halfway through the third to take a 2-1 lead.
They allowed the tying goal with 2:31 to go in regulation and the winning goal with :31 remaining...on the penalty kill.
This season is quickly becoming a test of how agonizingly close a team can come to a win without sealing the deal. It’s been a whole season of knocking on the door and getting handed pretzels. Or worse, mints.
Mint is awful and you’re all insane.
Treat: Kendall Cornine, MET | 2 goals in two games vs BOS
Quietly having an excellent rookie campaign is Kendall Cornine. The RIT graduate now has five goals in five games on the season, netting two this weekend against a stingy Pride defense.
WATCH: @Riveters rookie forward @kendall_cornine is doing @RITWHKY proud. She now has five goals in her first five NWHL career games and four goals in her last three games.— NWHL (@NWHL) October 27, 2019
: https://t.co/mx5FVvQzaM pic.twitter.com/uRludhThbj
It’s a terrific keep-in at the point that enables this give-and-go. She senses available real estate in the slot, picks up steam along the wall and cuts to the hashmarks around a defender.
That left-wing circle is a dangerous spot for her as a right-handed shot. She has pinpoint accuracy that can beat a goaltender low like the above...
WATCH: @Riveters' rookie @kendall_cornine has the only goal for the visiting team thus far. After two periods, @TheBostonPride lead 4-1.— NWHL (@NWHL) October 27, 2019
The 3rd period starts soon on https://t.co/mx5FVvQzaM pic.twitter.com/vMCoLgSJQj
...or high glove side on the hottest goaltender in the league. Cornine has a tremendous combination of speed, power and finesse that could make her a dangerous player, especially under the tutelage of another talented power forward, Madison Packer.
The wins will come for the Riveters this season so long as Cornine keeps scoring. The combo of skill and grit earns her a Nestle Crunch bar.
Trick: Metro’s schedule | 0 games until 11/30
Ever hear of a bye-week? How about a bye-month?
I understand there are a lot of factors at play this season. Three of the five teams in the league are in a new rink this season. There’s an odd number of teams, so someone has to be off any given weekend.
But a full month off with no games? Really?
Buffalo also has a 30+ day period without a game from January 12th to February 15th. I suppose I’m at peace with why it needs to happen but it still stinks that it happens at all.
Whoever schedules the ice time deserves nothing but candy corn.
Treat: Shannon Doyle, CTW | 3 assists, 7 blocked shots in two games vs MIN
If there’s anyone in that corps who deserves praise for trying to hoist the team on her back, it’s Shannon Doyle. No one gets a full pass for their inability to hold a lead, of course, but Doyle is doing her darndest to keep the team competitive.
Doyle leads the team with six points on the year, three of them coming this past weekend. Her prettiest assist was this stretch pass to spring Kaycie Anderson on a breakaway, which she promptly potted to get the Whale back in the game (for the moment).
This play from today's first @NWHL game was sensational. Watch this stretch pass by @SDoyle_6 (from behind her own net) to spring @Kaycieanderson9, who made no mistake on the breakaway. Gorgeous goal for the @CTWhale_NWHL. pic.twitter.com/p9N8tnckd9— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) October 26, 2019
Connecticut has such difficulty breaking out of their own zone, Doyle resorted to the Hail Mary, and it worked to perfection.
She also logged seven blocked shots, forwarding seven dollars to Room to Read. She deserves a Snickers in her bag.