NWHL Stock Report: Fins up!

The Whale actually did it, you guys

The Connecticut Whale defied the odds and finally won a hockey game! The ‘Caps smacked the stuffing out of the Beauts! The Pride are undefeated! Still!

Three games await us this weekend as the Whale venture out to Minnesota for a pair of matchups with the Whitecaps while the Riveters pay a visit to Boston in a Monday matinee. Let’s take a look at who’s hot, who’s not and who to keep an eye on this weekend.

Trending up: Kendra Broad, CTW | 2 goals, OT GWG vs MET
When the Connecticut Whale needed a hero, Kendra Broad was there. Broad potted a pair of goals, including the overtime game-winner, to topple the Riveters and finally get the Whale in the win column.

It looked for a brief moment like it would be business as usual with Connecticut. Taking a 2-1 lead into the third period, Metropolitan tied it up with less than eight minutes in regulation and took the lead with 1:59 on the clock.

With the net empty and just 1:19 left, the Whale finally- finally- got a bounce.

Hannah Beattie breathed life into Connecticut by banging home a puck on a net-mouth scramble, but the deed was not yet finished. Broad carried the puck up the right wing and, with no real angle to the net, lifted a shot over the shoulders of Sam Walther to seal the deal.

Walther’s reaction sums it up. She sits there motionless until she has to double-take to see if the puck really did find twine. In truth, you can watch the replay of that goal dozens of times and still not be 100% certain how it managed to sneak past her from that angle.

Broad’s goals were her first two as a professional in North America. She couldn’t have picked a better game to finally get her first NWHL goal.

Trending down: Sara Bustad, BUF | On ice for 8 goals allowed in two games vs MIN
Buffalo’s defense was completely overwhelmed last weekend in Minnesota. There are plenty of culprits to look at when evaluating just why the Beauts are continually pounded week after week. They have, after all, allowed five or more goals in six consecutive games now.

Sarah Casorso’s return was less than ideal, as she was on the ice for eight goals against at 5-on-5 and zero for. But we’ll show Casorso some leniency since she had not played a professional hockey game in exactly a calendar year.

So let’s pick on someone with the same ugly stats who doesn’t have rust as an excuse, Sara Bustad.

Bustad was on the ice for four consecutive 5-on-5 goals against within six minutes of play on Saturday. She was then on the ice for the first three 5-on-5 goals against of Sunday’s game. That’s a streak of seven consecutive even strength goals allowed over the course of two games—or rather, two periods.

There are others on the Buffalo bench who deserve scorn for their lackluster defense, but Bustad stands out. Her net-front coverage leaves a lot to be desired and her haphazard stick checks were exploited as being pretty ineffective against the skilled, speedy Minnesota forwards.

Perhaps as Sarah Casorso gets re-acclimated to the pace of play, Buffalo’s defense will improve. But as it stands right now, it’s a catastrophe.

Trending up: Lexie Laing, BOS | Goal in win over CTW
There are certain moments of serendipity in sports that can’t help but make you smile sometimes. Lexie Laing provided one of those moments Sunday.

On a day dedicated to her sister Denna in front of a capacity crowd in Boston, Lexie Laing potted an absolute beauty of a breakaway goal, burning Elena Orlando and burying a backhander past Sonjia Shelly.

Sometimes, sports can be great.

Trending down: Iveta Klimasova, BUF | Eight 5-on-5 goals allowed in two games vs MIN
Klimasova is undoubtedly one of the most important contributors to the Buffalo Beauts’ offense. She has 16 points through 18 games. She’s one of their driving forces.

When the offense runs dry, you look to the top.

Klimasova had an assist in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s games, but was pointless in her previous three. Though she’s been an excellent playmaker, she has only one goal dating back to the second game of the year.

The Beauts are 0-7-1 in their last eight games and have been averaging just 2.4 goals-for per game. Contrast that with their even 6.00 goals-against average in that stretch and there’s cause for concern.

Klimasova isn’t a sniper. She isn’t going to score her way out of this hole the Beauts have dug for themselves. But she will have to do more on the defensive side of things to keep her team competitive. She has been on the ice for 10 of the last 20 even strength goals allowed over four games.

Similar to Bustad, while others also deserve scrutiny, the Beauts are not getting enough from one of their stars and it’s hurting them big time.

Trending up: Jordan Juron, BOS | Goal in win vs CTW
An easy copy-paste job here as a writer: that bit about serendipity and all that.

Jordan Juron took almost an entire year off from hockey as she recovered from a spinal injury suffered as a member of the Buffalo Beauts last season. After a lengthy, laborious recovery process, she signed with the Boston Pride and made an immediate impact. She notched an assist in her second game with the team—played in Buffalo—and netted her first goal of the season Sunday against the Whale.

The goal was also her first since March 18th, 2018. She’s been waiting for this moment for a long, long time. And she looks ready to thrive as yet another depth option on this Pride team.