The Boston Pride have got their swagger back.
Penalty trouble doomed the Toronto Six in Tampa, as a confident Boston Pride team powered their way to the Isobel Cup Final with a 5-1 victory. Boston received goal contributions from five different skaters while Katie Burt stopped 18 of 19 shots in net.
“When we play with heart and passion, there’s not a better team in this league,” asserted Pride head coach Paul Mara after the win. “But we’re not done. We’re here for one thing.”
Christina Putigna opened the scoring with a 4-on-3 powerplay goal at 15:39 in the first period. With plenty of open space to work with in the offensive zone, Lauren Kelly bounced a cross-slot pass to the right circle where Putigna rifled a one-timer past Elaine Chuli for a Boston lead.
Less than 30 seconds later, Kali Flanagan seized open space in the waning minutes of Toronto’s second penalty, powering her way from coast to coast and beating Chuli over the glove for a 2-0 advantage.
“Kali’s a phenomenal skater,” Mara noted. “Great shot. Great skill goal.”
Later in the first, a bouncing shot from the point off the stick of Flanagan awkwardly bounced through Chuli and Kayla Friesen pounced on the loose puck, poking in her first career playoff goal.
Toronto would break through with a powerplay goal of their own with 34 seconds remaining in the period, as a shot off the end boards created havoc in front. Breanne Wilson-Bennett slid a shot past the outstretched legs of Katie Burt to cut the deficit to two heading into the first intermission.
This is a massive goal for the Toronto Six to get on the board just before the end of the first period. A power-play strike from Wilson-Bennett to cut Boston's lead down to 3-1. Great work from Boquist to work to get it loose again. pic.twitter.com/6eWYXNE4Cx— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) March 27, 2022
Boston would recover early in the second period, forcing a turnover on the forecheck before Evelina Raselli’s shot deflected off a stick and arced over Chuli for a 4-1 Boston lead. Chuli seemed caught half-committing to leaping for the puck after spotting it in the air too late, and the fluttering butterfly of a puck dropped knuckled its way to the back of the net.
Toronto struggled to generate much offensive pressure as the game wore on, mustering only five shots on goal in the final frame. Taylor Wenczkowski capped off the scoring with a rising wrist shot on the powerplay at 8:08 in the third period, finishing off a 5-1 Boston victory.
“It stings, I’m not gonna lie,” said Toronto head coach Mark Joslin, reflecting on the end of a season in which Toronto won a league-leading 16 regular season games. “It’s hard on players, it’s hard on coaches, it’s hard on everyone. It’s a tough way to end a great season...They got bounces and we didn’t today.”
The Pride’s powerplay generated three powerplay goals on the contest despite going just 4-for-71 in the regular season (5.6% success, by far the lowest in the PHF). They bested a Toronto Six penalty kill unit that allowed just four powerplay goals all year in 63 attempts- a 93.7% kill rate, tied for the best in the league.
“Confidence is the biggest piece we needed all season, and now we’re rolling,” said Pride forward Taylor Wenczkowski.
“One huge thing about our team is our depth,” Mara added of his team’s bolstered mentality. “I think we can put any player out there, any line at any time of the game any circumstance and we’d be confident they can get the job done.”
Boston will face-off with the Connecticut Whale in the Isobel Cup Final in pursuit of their third Cup win in five trips. For what it’s worth, the Pride have only ever lost a Finals appearance once in their franchise history since the 2020 Isobel Cup was never played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not wanting for conviction, Mara left media availability with a short scouting report of Connecticut:
“They have a fantastic first line. I like my first line better.”