Buffalo Looks to End Pride’s Undefeated Season on Saturday in Boston
By Mike Murphy
The 2019-20 NWHL season resumes this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET with a much-anticipated game between the visiting Buffalo Beauts and the undefeated Boston Pride.
Saturday’s showdown will mark the third meeting between the Beauts and the Pride in Boston this season. The home team held off a late comeback effort from the visiting Beauts on Oct. 12 before their offense overwhelmed Buffalo in an 8-2 victory on Oct. 13.
This game will be the first of two road games this weekend for the Beauts. On Sunday, they’ll travel to Connecticut to play the Whale at 12:30 p.m., but right now their focus is on spoiling Boston’s perfect record.
The Beauts and Pride both have had a lot of success on the power play this season, but not against each other.
Thus far, 12 of the 14 goals that have been scored in this season series have come at even strength, with Boston scoring the only power play goal of the series on Oct. 13. However, the Pride have had just a 14.28 percent success rate on the advantage in the series to date; the Beauts enter Saturday’s game with an intimidating 30.43 percent success rate on the power play.
The last thing the Pride want to see on Saturday night is rookie defender Marie-Jo Pelletier quarterbacking multiple Beauts power plays. She leads Buffalo with three primary points on the advantage. Pelletier has been just as impactful on the Beauts’ penalty kill, where she has helped Buffalo’s goalies keep opposing power plays off the board.
Boston isn’t the only team that has struggled to score against the Beauts on the power play; Buffalo leads the league with a 90.0% success rate on the penalty kill. Boston, on the other hand, is ranked third in the league with an 86.21% PK. In other words, these teams have been evenly matched on special teams through the first four weeks of the NWHL season.
Take Your Best Shot
If Buffalo wants to start their road trip with a bang, they’re going to need to find a way to generate more shots on goal to put pressure on Pride star rookie Lovisa Selander, especially at even strength.
Fortunately for Buffalo, goaltender Mariah Fujimagari has proven she’s up to the task of spoiling the quality scoring chances that the Pride excel at creating with their team speed. She posted a .911 save percentage in her first start against Boston on Oct. 12. NWHL veteran Kelsey Neumann looked equally sharp when she entered the game in relief of Fujimagari on Oct. 13. She weathered the storm by stopping 23 of the 26 shots she faced.
Through their first two games against the Pride, the Beauts averaged 23.5 shots per game while allowing 43.5 shots against. That’s not the ratio that head coach Pete Perram wants to see, even in a two-game sample size. The bottom line for the Beauts is that they need to generate more chances at evens and play sound defense to limit Boston’s scoring chances.
Tickets for Saturday’s game and all Pride home games at the Warrior Ice Arena are available at pride.nwhl.zone/tickets. You can also watch the action streaming live and free on twitch.tv/nwhl.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay