FOR DENNA AND BEFORE CAPACITY CROWD, PRIDE ARE VICTORIOUS
By Jane Norton
When you’re playing for your inspiration, your heart, your hero, coming up short is not an alternative.
So it wasn’t a surprise on Sunday that before an over-capacity throng of fans at Warrior Ice Arena – and despite the best efforts of the relentless and rising Whale – the Boston Pride improved to 18-0 with a 4-2 victory.
The win came in the club’s annual Denna Day – a tribute and fundraiser for their forever Boston Pride teammate, Denna Laing.
“It was all just incredible,” said Pride captain Jillian Dempsey, a close friend of Laing’s. “A packed house…we love our fans so much. Boston fans show up for their teams. And for them to show up for Denna, it means a lot. Winning this game was a must.”
But it did not come easily. Winners of their first game this season on Saturday in New Jersey, the Whale continued their momentum with a goal by Elena Gualtieri just 1:37 into the game.
“It’s good for us to face adversity with the Whale scoring first,” said Dempsey. “We know how tough they are, how they were coming off a win and were fired up. We had to overcome it, and I was proud of how we battled.”
Eventually, the power of the Pride could not be denied. Although it was tough to beat Connecticut’s talented goalie, Sonjia Shelly, the Boston attack eventually broke through. Between the middle of the first period and early in the third, the Pride scored four unanswered goals.
Jordan Juron, who signed with Boston on Friday for the rest of the season, scored at 13:16 of the first, followed by – who else? – Lexie Laing, who scored four minutes later with her sister Denna in the crowd.
“This was a special day for Denna and a game we needed to win,” said Laing. “It was nice to contribute a goal.”
Despite Colton Orr’s team hanging tough, and with Shelly stopping almost everything, the Pride got some distance as a goal late in the second period by Kaleigh Fratkin and one early in the third by Dempsey made it 4-1.
Emma Vlasic scored with just over five minutes left to make it 4-2. Shelly finished the game with more than 53 saves.
In the end, it was a spectacular day for the Boston Pride, who return to Warrior for a holiday Monday matinee on Jan. 20 against the Riveters.
“Our fans were the 7th player on the ice for us today,” said Pride general manager Karilyn Pilch. “Boston’s winning sports culture and the fans associated with it have been influential in our success, to say the least. A sellout crowd on Denna Day speaks not only to the product we have on the ice, but to the love and support our community has, and will always have, for Denna.”
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay