In the spirit of the holidays, let’s make a list of this week’s trends and check it twice (heh, check? Get it? Wait stop no don’t click away I’m sorry).
There’s a slate of four games coming up this weekend, including the Whale’s final home stand of the season and the Buffalo Believes Outdoor Classic between the Beauts and Riveters.
Let’s take a look at who’s hot, who’s not, and who to keep an eye on around the NWHL this week.
Nice: Kayla Meneghin, CTW | Assist, 8 SOG in two games vs MIN
Kayla Meneghin continues to prove herself as one of the most consistent offensive contributors to the Connecticut Whale. She has four goals and three assists in nine games with the Whale this season, including a five-game point streak at one point earlier in the season.
In a weekend of limited offensive opportunity for the Connecticut Whale (shocker), Meneghin led the team with eight shots on goal over the course of two games — three on Saturday (most on team) and five on Sunday (second-most on team). Meneghin had the primary helper on the Whale’s only goal of the weekend, wiring a pass from behind the net to the slot while simultaneously fighting off two Whitecap defenders.
Meneghin has been one of head coach Colton Orr’s favorites since he took over control of the team, graduating from mere depth forward option with inconsistent ice time last season to legitimate top-line threat. She’ll be needed as the Whale host the undefeated Boston Pride this Saturday and Sunday at Danbury Arena.
Naughty: Crease violations | You be the ref
Goaltender interference is very rarely called in the NWHL. In truth, it’s one of the most inconsistently called penalties in any league of hockey, and even the leagues that have the luxury of video replay or coach’s challenges still get it wrong.
In that spirit, how in the world is neither a goal nor goaltender interference?
Let’s be real. If I’m Lovisa Selander, I’m apoplectically turning towards the closest person in stripes and calling for a penalty, as it’s undeniable Selander was nudged during the play. If I’m in powder blue, I’m demanding to know how that level of contact constitutes a negated goal. There’s an argument to be made on both sides.
This goal was waved off, but not called a penalty. It was deemed a “crease violation” and a Buffalo offensive zone penalty ensued. It’s one of the most frustrating rules in hockey; a mulligan, essentially. Either send Marie-Jo Pelletier to the box for interference or let the goal stand.
To have a call like this come well into the third period in a tie game is bad enough. But to have it be the second disallowed goal of the game on a ticky-tack play is beyond aggravating.
While Lovisa Selander is a national treasure and deserves to be protected at all costs- no one is arguing that- let the opposition crash the net.
Nice: Jenna Rheault, BOS | OT GWG vs BUF
Jenna Rheault picked a perfect time to net her first goal as a professional. The University of New Hampshire graduate sniped a beauty past Kelsey Neumann for the overtime game-winner completing a three-goal comeback.
For a defender with not many career goals to her name, this is a shooter’s shot. She confidently fields the puck in stride moving into the slot, cuts from her backhand to her forehand while staying square to the net and somehow finds the far post.
Naughty: Buffalo Believes Classic jerseys | What, no specialty threads?
I’m a jersey nerd. It’s a nit-picky complaint, but it would have been awesome to see some throwback (or even faux-back) sweaters for the Beauts and Riveters. Even a return to the Season One threads would have been epic.
Specialty jerseys are an easy way to get some buzz for one-off events, like outdoor games or All-Star games. I’m dying to see if someone out there has some good mock-ups for either squad. Maybe I’m just being anal about this because of how much potential these two franchises have when it comes to designs.
Minor complaints aside, Metro is going to have their hands full this weekend. Buffalo is licking their wounds after coming oh-so-close to toppling the undefeated Pride last Saturday, and will be playing with a bit of an extra jump to impress their home outdoor crowd.
Whether or not recent re-signee Kelly Nash joins the Riveters up in Buffalo, expect the Riveters’ defense to be tested this weekend.
Nice: Allie Thunstrom, MIN | Four goals in two games vs CTW
A tip to NWHL teams out there playing against Allie Thunstrom: she is quite fast.
What other reaction can you possibly have when you let go of that puck and see Thunstrom lurking other than, “oh no.”
Thunstrom netted a natural hat trick Saturday against the Connecticut Whale, all three coming in the third period including the above short-handed goal. She then tallied another goal Sunday in a 2-1 win over the Pod. She now has 10 goals on the season and is currently riding a five-game point streak.
Not only is Thunstrom hellacious to deal with from a speed standpoint, she’s one of the best shooters in the game. Quantity and quality come easy for the Maplewood native, as she averages 6 shots-on-goal per game. That number improves to 7.2 over her last five.
She’s simply been beastly. Her stellar play earned her the VEDA Player of the Week award.