It was an eventful day for the NWHL in the news cycle, beginning with new players joining up with the “bubble” and ending with Connecticut pulling out of the tournament. Amidst all the mayhem, a hockey game was played between the Boston Pride and the Buffalo Beauts.
Let’s hit that recap.
Boston takes the “series,” beats Buffalo 7–1
Players on the Boston Pride bench were apparently unaware that their season’s fate no longer hinged on the outcome of this game, per Matt Porter of the Boston Globe. So they played like their lives depended on it.
Sammy Davis netted a pair of goals to lead the way for the Pride. Jillian Dempsey tacked on a powerplay goal, while rookie Meghara McManus scored her first NWHL goal late in the second period. Lexie Laing tallied a breakaway goal in the third, and Mallory Souliotis contributed off a shot from the blue line. Meaghan Rickard potted the seventh of the game, the first of her pro career.
Kristin Lewicki was the lone goal scorer for Buffalo, coming in the second period.
- Kaleigh Fratkin added two more assists, bringing her league-leading total up to nine. It’s been a remarkable campaign for the veteran blue-liner as she makes her case for back-to-back Defender of the Year awards. She’s led an offensive revolution for the Pride in recent games, which head coach Paul Mara called the return of “our Boston Pride swag.”
- Jenna Rheault (fractured wrist) dressed for the game, and even served a bench minor taken by Mara in the second period. Apart from that, she did not take a shift. She dressed for “good vibes”; a purely symbolic move by a leader believing her team to be facing elimination. Lexie Laing said, “I don’t think she stopped yelling once.” Mara: “Jenna is a great leader. She’s a lot of the heart and soul of our team.”
- Despite getting outscored 13–1 in a 48-hour stretch, the Buffalo Beauts are in the Isobel Cup Semifinal on Thursday against the top-seeded Toronto Six. Beauts head coach Pete Perram: “We will take what we experienced against Boston, we have a couple days to regroup ... it’s a half-full, half-empty world. We can’t forget that our team has got a ton of heart; there’s no quit in this team. We’ll be back and we’ll be ready on Thursday.”
- Under the Radar | McManus is embracing her role as the Next One Up on a dinged-up Pride bench. With Dempsey, Rheault, and Mary Parker each dealing with their own ailments, Boston’s depth is being tested. McManus has answered the call with two goals and three assists in her last two games. McManus: “I think it’s just my confidence level. Whatever I can do to help, I’ll be there to help the team and do the best I can.”
- Player of the Game | Fratkin. Her ability as a puck mover is second to none in the NWHL. There’s a reason defensive partner Souliotis considers her to be “the best defender in the league, bar none.” Honorable mention to Dempsey for persevering through a shoulder injury to register a goal and assist in the final game of the series — not to mention her importance on the face-off dot (15–2 in Monday’s game).
The Isobel Cup Playoffs are set. Boston and Buffalo get a much-needed break after three games in three days before action resumes on Thursday. Games can be viewed on NBC Sports for American viewers, with John Forslund and AJ Mleczko on the call. International viewers can stream the games for free on twitch.tv/nwhl.
- Buffalo Beauts vs. Toronto Six | 5:30 p.m. ET
- Boston Pride vs. Minnesota Whitecaps | 8:30 p.m. ET