Ganser Grabs Game-Winner in Overtime Over Boston

by Jacob Solomons

The Buffalo Beauts and Boston Pride have battled it out twice this season, with Boston coming away with a clean sweep in their home ice finale back in February. This time, the Beauts hosted their long-standing rivals at home in Buffalo, looking for a bit of redemption. With the final series of the season upon us, everyone would be firing on all cylinders ahead of the Isobel Cup Playoffs.

First Period

The first ten minutes of the first period were uneventful, both teams settling into the pace and finding their stride. No real threats in either attacking zone just yet.

The Boston Pride’s top line had the opportunity to get the momentum rolling early with a few quick offensive chances. Carly Jackson would get her first reps in as Sammy Davis and Christina Putigna would test Jackson with a few tough shots. Nothing connected unfortunately, but the early offense provided momentum for Boston in the early going.

Of course, in the final series of the season, one thing you can be sure of is a Kaleigh Fratkin penalty. Fratty would head to the box for hooking at 9:42. Fratty is no stranger to the penalty box, as she’s tallied 18 minutes’ worth of penalties this season. That’s not such a terrible thing when the penalty kill has been able to ward off 91% of the player advantages by their opponents this year.

The PK unit wouldn’t be free just yet, as the Pride would add another player to the box in Mary Parker. Boston’s first challenge of the game would come as a 5-on-3 disadvantage. It is hard to kill off a two player penalty, but the one-minute overlap will be enough time to cut back to 5-on-4.

Buffalo established their presence in the attacking zone. Overwhelming on offense, they kept cycling the puck to tease Boston on the shorthand. The Beauts took advantage of the loose puck out front, looking for an open spot on net, Katie Burt denying everything. Katie Burt has been an unstoppable force this season, serving as a brick wall in net and Saturday proved no different.

Fratty and Parker’s penalty killed off successfully, moving their success rate to 92%. One way for Boston to set the tone for their play style is to put the PK unit out early. The success they’ve had this season will allow them to build momentum in the second half of the first and for the rest of the game. Even strength was a bit slow to start, when Boston’s backed into a corner on a player, or two, they’ll come out swinging and make their presence known.

Carly Jackson was challenged with a 3-on-1 breakaway at 14:45 and denied Boston with no issues. Jackson had a bit of work to do in net with Boston’s offensive onslaught, however Jackson’s all-star ability prevented any goals for the Pride.

Buffalo would get another scoring chance as they headed back on the powerplay. Jenna Rheault would get the call for body checking at 15:20. The shorthand unit for Boston came out a bit more charged up, having killed off two overlapping penalties earlier on. Sometimes teams struggle on the shorthand, but the Pride embrace the disadvantage and somehow thrive in that situation. A couple of shots by Buffalo but nothing significant, Boston clearing the puck with ease. The Pride penalty would killed off successfully as we all expected.

A few minutes later, Boston would take to the powerplay with just over one minute left in the first. PHF veteran Elena Orlando was assessed a roughing penalty at 18:52. An unlucky call as Boston would begin the second period on the player-advantage.

End of First Period: BOS - 0, BUF - 0

Second Period

Boston’s powerplay unit opened the second period and took full advantage of the attacking zone. The Pride have not been too successful on the powerplay this season, but their luck was beginning to turn.

A shot from the point allowed Sammy Davis to position herself out front for the redirect. The ricochet off the pad gave Davis the green light for a rebound shot, burying it for Boston’s first goal of the game. A rare powerplay goal for Boston, their third of the season, shifted the momentum in their favor quickly.

Boston’s goal rattled Carly Jackson just a bit, allowing the Pride to get a few shots on net and let them create traffic in front. Something Jackson wants to avoid. Boston’s been dominant in the first few minutes, not allowing Buffalo any chances on offense. It took a little while for the Beauts to get the wheels rolling, but they found their pace in the second period.

Buffalo showed some life around the halfway mark, Boston’s defense with a slight miscommunication allowing the Beauts to close in on the openings in front. Nothing connecting for Buffalo, Katie Burt unstoppable as ever.

Anjelica Diffendal had something to say about Katie Burt’s perfect save percentage. Diffendal controlled the puck, carried it along into the attacking zone and had Dominique Kremer alongside her following at the point. Diffendal saucered the puck over and Kremer tipped it past Burt for the game tying goal at 9:14. Buffalo’s ability comeback mentality this season has been quite noticeable, their record doesn’t nearly reflect how talented and focused they are in winning.

Lovisa Selander would substitute Katie Burt at 12:09. This decision made by coach Paul Mara was intentional, with the focus on next week’s playoffs in Tampa. Katie Burt would get a rest before the playoffs next weekend, as Coach Mara plans to start Burt in net on Friday. The rest of the period remained quiet, no goals which proved beneficial for both teams. The tie game heading into the third provided momentum for both teams to try and get the win to avoid overtime.

End of Second Period: BOS -1, BUF - 1

Third Period

The first half of the period was a back and forth neutral battle, Buffalo shut down most of the Pride’s attacking rushes.

Jenna Rheault turned over the puck in her defensive zone, Buffalo taking control of the puck. Jillian Dempsey would throw an elbow on the play knocking down Cassidy Vinkle, resulting in a Boston penalty at 7:46. Dempsey’s aggressive style helps but sometimes the physical game goes too far and gets called for a penalty.

Buffalo’s player advantage was unsuccessful. They were able to get away with a few holding calls afterward that went unnoticed, as Paul Mara shouted to the officials in disagreement.

You can’t blame Mara for trying to get their attention, but when they misplace their whistles, all bets are off. The Beauts would head to the box one more time in regulation as Emma Keenan would take a rest following a body check at 13:31. The Pride were unable to capitalize as time would expire.

The third period would not find a winner, with overtime looming in the distance. Both teams would have the chance to regroup before the overtime period began, hoping to find a winning strategy.

End of Regulation: BOS - 1, BUF - 1

Overtime

Boston has found themselves in four consecutive games where sudden death overtime would be the deciding factor. The Pride have been 0-3 in their last three games which ended in OT so hopefully they could break the streak.

The 3-on-3 overtime was slow paced, both teams adjusting to the special teams line change. Buffalo got a jump early taking the zone, but Boston cleared without any shots for Selander.

Boston took advantage and shifted to the attack with a couple of shots, nothing significant on Jackson. Emilie Harley intercepted a pass and skated out of the defensive zone and carried it along the boards with force. Harley made a beeline for the net, the puck glued to her stick, and fed the puck behind to Kennedy Ganser. Ganser collected the puck and fired it on Selander but saved. The puck kicked out to Taylor Accursi on the rebound, fired it and redirected by Ganser into the net for the game-winning goal at 1:13.

The Beauts took advantage of the delayed reaction by Boston, and they made them pay for it. Harley’s dominating presence set the tone for Buffalo in overtime and allowed them to build off that momentum and take the win over Boston.