Up until now, it had been a game of inches for all six NWHL teams in Lake Placid. Sunday’s games, however, were quite different. We got two blowouts with identical scores, and one of the matchups pushed a critical tiebreaker that determines the final playoff seed.
Shall we recap?
Boston evens things up against Buffalo, wins 6–0
After two tightly played periods, the Pride broke loose and chased Carly Jackson from her net for the first time, rolling to a much-needed win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Mallory Souliotis and Christina Putigna were two of the biggest difference makers for Boston, with two goals and three assists respectively. Kaleigh Fratkin also shined with three assists of her own, and McKenna Brand finally broke free with a goal late in the second period. Lovisa Selander got the start again in net and made 31 saves.
- This game marked the first time that Buffalo has broken the 30-shot mark in Lake Placid. Cassidy MacPherson led the way with 7 SOG.
- Jillian Dempsey had been quietly reliable in Saturday’s matchup despite her shoulder injury. Sunday, she was looking much more like her old self, getting some good chances (including one shorthanded) and getting the primary assist on Lauren Kelly’s goal late in the game. “Getting ready to go,” she said of how she feels. “Just gonna give whatever to the team, obviously — we’re in a do-or-die situation, and we’re emptying the tanks out there each night, and that’s the mentality going forward.”
- Sunday afternoon also marked the first appearance of Beauts backup Caty Flagg on the ice. Despite allowing two goals, Flagg still had a solid outing, making four saves in what head coach Pete Perram described as a tough situation: “She came in strong, she made some great saves — she did what we asked her to do. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, I was very proud of her.”
- Under the Radar | MacPherson of Buffalo — in addition to seven shots on goal, she was excellent in the faceoff circle, going 12–4 on a team that’s been having trouble in that area
- Player of the Game | Souliotis, with two goals for Boston.
Toronto Six blank Connecticut Whale, 6–0
Yup, you read that right! It’s six for the — okay, yeah, we get it. The Six are dominant right now and they just keep rolling, clinching the top seed for the semifinals with a shocking blowout win against the Whale. Mikyla Grant-Mentis continues her absolute dominance in her first full season, tallying a goal and two assists, while Mackenzie MacNeil added two goals of her own. Taytum Clairmont also had a goal and an assist, showcasing the formidable depth of this Toronto team. On the other end, Elaine Chuli was once again excellent in net with 25 stops. Abbie Ives made 26 saves for Connecticut before being pulled in favor of Mariah Fujimagari, who made 7 stops. (Fujimagari, who had been in Lake Placid as a leaguewide emergency backup goaltender, was signed to Connecticut’s roster before the game.)
- Janine Weber had to be helped off the ice late after an awkward entanglement with Six defender Lindsay Eastwood that left her in a considerable amount of pain. Despite how bad it looked — she could put no weight on her right leg — Whale assistant coach Jamie Goldsmith said further evaluation yielded “good news” and there is a chance Weber will be available moving forward.
- Those watching the Twitch stream may have seen a flood of pancake emotes fill the chat. Apparently there’s a story behind it, and of course it comes via Six head coach Digit Murphy, dating back to her days coaching in the 1990s with her mentor, UNH coaching legend Russ McCurdy: “He always used to say, ‘Eat a pancake, score a goal.’ Back in the 90s, you always had day games, so your pregame meal was always breakfast. So I just kind of turned it into, ‘GUYS! We’re gonna score goals, and you know what? After you score a goal, eat a pancake!’ And it just, like, took off.” Apparently it’s a metaphor used in pregame speeches as well. Think we see any pancake merch soon?
- With Toronto clinching the top seed in the playoffs, Connecticut will now battle with the Minnesota Whitecaps for the No. 2 spot, which will certainly be a lot of fun, considering these two teams are going to be playing each other in the semis as well. That’s a lot of time for them to get really comfortable with each other, which always makes for a fun matchup.
- Under the Radar | Sarah-Ève Coutu-Godbout — the forward out of Quinnipiac has made it three straight games with a point and her second game in a row with a goal, tallying the first on a deflection off a shot from Amy Curlew.
- Player of the Game | Mackenzie MacNeil, with two goals for Toronto.
Connecticut and Minnesota fight to see which one gets ‘home ice’ in their playoff game Thursday, then the deciding third game of the Boston–Buffalo series. Games can be streamed for free on twitch.tv/nwhl.
- Connecticut Whale vs. Minnesota Whitecaps | 5:30 p.m. ET
- Buffalo Beauts vs. Boston Pride | 8:30 p.m. ET