Buffalo Completes the Sweep in Season Finale Against Boston
The Premier Hockey Federation regular season has reached the end. This season we have seen new rivalries form, unbelievable talent emerge, an All-Star Showcase, and we had our fans back! With all of those things in mind, I think it’s safe to say that the 2021-22 season has been an enormous success. The PHF has made leaps and bounds to grow and expand the game of ice hockey for everyone, and make it an inclusive environment for all. There is no PHF without a fanbase and fan support, so to see everyone back in those stands is better than anything…even better than winning the Isobel Cup.
All roads lead to Tampa for the Isobel Cup Playoffs. But first, the Boston Pride would have to battle it out one final time against the Beauts in Buffalo. The Pride have suffered four consecutive overtime losses, not a great stat heading into Tampa. However, the consistency of going to overtime for the past four games is a testament to their endurance and their “fight until the end” mentality.
The Buffalo Beauts have settled into sixth place in the season standings at 6-14, however, their record does not nearly reflect how talented their roster is. A few unlucky scheduling/health conflicts created a few setbacks, but they haven’t used that as an excuse this season. Buffalo’s grit and determination is certainly something to consider when the Pride matches up with the Beauts in the first round of the playoffs, Friday March 25 at 4PM on ESPN+.
The Pride have been on the attack most of the first period, generating a bit of bitterness from the outcome of Saturday night’s game. Lovisa Selander gets the start in net, the continued gameplan for the Pride to rest Katie Burt ahead of the Isobel Cup Playoffs on Friday. Boston sill be facing Buffalo in the first round, which may present a bit of foreshadowing in the season finale Sunday.
The physical style of play developed pretty early as Emilie Harley would be awarded the first penalty of the game for body checking at 8:42, giving Boston the powerplay opportunity. Boston was successful on one powerplay attempt yesterday, however the first chance didn’t reflect the same outcome. Carly Jackson has been a fan favorite this season through her connection with the PHF fanbase, but her unbelievable talent has also turned heads in awe. Her early battles against a few shots by Boston couldn’t wear down the UMaine alum. You need more than a weak wrister to beat Jackson if you want the lead.
Buffalo’s offense came alive in traffic, getting their chance to challenge Lovisa Selander in net. Most of the Beauts’ success this season has come by result of dirty goals out front and creating pressure in the crease. A loose puck out front allowed a few shots on net, but Selander would remain unbeaten.
Taylor Wenczkowski would head to the box for a body check at 15:20, Buffalo’s powerplay went to work quickly. A couple sporadic rushes pressure Boston but nothing threatened Selander. Buffalo would be charged a hooking penalty on Autumn MacDougall at 17:06, balancing out the lines 4-on-4 for an abbreviated time.
Both penalties were killed off successfully, adding to the special teams success rate this season, a positive stat to carry into the playoffs. The Pride’s momentum was short-lived as they were caught with too many players on the ice. A bit over-zealous in their gameplan for a goal, a bench minor penalty would be given to Coach Paul Mara; giving Buffalo the chance they needed to take the lead.
Emilie Harley took command on offense, carrying the puck aggressively into the attacking zone. Harley fired a shot and took a tumble into the net, with a rebound left out front for Kennedy Ganser for the shot and flipped it past Selander for the first goal for the Beauts at 19:18.
A bit of extracurricular activity on the play, Kaleigh Fratkin would be called for a body checking penalty at 19:18, which would carry into the second period. Fratty would also get charged a game misconduct, giving her extra time in the box. With time running down, the Pride headed to the locker room to figure out a way to score and get their heads back into this game.
End of First Period: BUF - 1, BOS - 0
Fratty’s penalty was killed off successfully in the early minutes of the second, giving Boston some life to open the period. A momentum shift for the Pride came following a trip by Samantha Fieseler at 3:52. The special teams unit could not rally their team enough for the tying goal, as Fieseler’s penalty expired. The Pride need to evaluate their powerplay lines this week if they expect to win a faceoff in the playoffs, let alone a game.
A battle of the powerplays seemed to be a recurring theme in the second period, as Boston takes to the shorthand once again. McKenna Brand would get a two-minute rest following a slashing call at 7:45. A few lucky offensive rushes gave Boston momentum but no goals as Brand’s penalty was killed off successfully.
A back and forth game on the ice translated into a back and forth game in the penalty box, Boston’s powerplay unit back on as they look to tie it. Emma Keenan would be assessed a body checking minor at 9:44, giving Boston their chance to tie it.
The Pride took their time with a slow, methodical entry into the zone, causing Buffalo to collapse on defense. Buffalo was expecting a burst of energy, but not this time. A quick exchange along blue line between Amanda Boulier and Taylor Wenczkowski set up a beautiful scoring opportunity. Boulier fired a shot, rebounded by Kayla Friesen sending it back up top for Wenczkowski. Wenczkowski wound up for a hard slap shot connecting with the net to tie the game at 10:53. Wenchy’s ninth of the season, and her third powerplay goal on the year - a powerplay hat trick!
Boston strikes twice in less than a minute with a quick rush out of the faceoff circle, Sammy Davis taking charge offensively. Davis would carry the puck along the far left wing, shooting a wrister on one knee for the off balance goal at 11:24, giving Boston the lead 2-1. Keeping the pressure on Buffalo will be the key to success if Boston can hold the lead.
Buffalo would get a powerplay chance once again, as Fratty would head back to the box for roughing at 14:46. The Beauts made the most of their opportunity as they dominated on offense, with a setup by Mary-Jo Pelletier on the far wing, Pelletier shot on net deflected to Taylor Wasylk out front burying it past Selander for the tying goal 2-2. The momentum for Buffalo skyrocketed following Wasylk’s goal, as the period would end tied at two.
End of Second Period: BUF - 2, BOS – 2
The third period created a bit of anxiety as the scoring opportunities were frequent, yet neither team could find the lead. A quiet period on the scoreboard allowed the physical game to pick up, a bit of pushing and shoving along the boards created a bit of tension.
It seemed both teams exhausted their time in the penalty box in the second period, as neither team would record a penalty in the third. Honestly, it’s not a terrible thing, but sometimes a player-advantage could help break the tie as we saw in the earlier periods.
Both teams want to end the season with a victory. The season finale between Buffalo and Boston may be a preview of what’s to come on Friday afternoon in Tampa in the first round of the playoffs. The Pride have been unlucky the last few games, looking for a win, following four consecutive overtime losses. As luck would have it, the Pride would have another battle in overtime as time expired in the third still tied at two.
End of Regulation: BUF - 2, BOS - 2
The 3-on-3 sudden death period quickly turned into a 4-on-3 as Buffalo took to the powerplay, as Kali Flanagan would get a penalty for body checking at 0:32. An unlucky break for Boston would prove costly as Buffalo capitalized.
Boston entered the attacking zone with moderate energy, not enough to beat the defenders for a shot on net. Buffalo intercepted the puck and generated a burst of energy into the zone led by Anjelica Diffendal on the far wing. Diffendal cut in skating end-to-end to challenge Selander with a shot. Diffendal fired stick side beating Selander for the game-winning goal at 1:28.
Diffendal’s powerplay goal gave Buffalo all the momentum heading into the Isobel Cup Playoffs this Friday, and a much- needed sweep over their rivals in Boston. The Pride would end the regular season with another loss, but to their credit, they still control third place.
Final Score: Buffalo - 3, Boston - 2
These last two games of the season were very much warm-up games ahead of the playoffs as. With the overtime loss, the Pride still head home with one point, but the win would have been much better. Either way, the Boston Pride will surely defend their Isobel Cup title this coming week as the PHF heads to the Tampa, Florida for the 2022 Isobel Cup Playoffs.
2022 Isobel Cup Playoffs Schedule:
Friday March 25 – Preliminary Round
4:00 p.m. ET – Buffalo Beauts (6) vs Boston Pride (3) (ESPN+ & TSN Direct)
7:30 p.m. ET – Minnesota Whitecaps (5) vs Metropolitan Riveters (4) (ESPN+ & TSN Direct)
Sunday March 27 - Semifinals
1:00 p.m. ET - Lowest Remaining Seed vs Connecticut Whale (1) (ESPN+ & TSN Direct)
4:30 p.m. ET – Highest Remaining Seed vs Toronto Six (2) (ESPN+ & TSN Direct)
Monday March 28 - Final
9:00 p.m. ET – Winner of Semifinal 1 vs Winner of Semifinal 2 (ESPN2 & TSN2)