Pride Beauts Recap 2/26
The two week hiatus by the Boston Pride has ended, and the festivities at Warrior Arena began on Saturday evening as the Pride defeated the Buffalo Beauts 4-3. The Beauts are coming off a short week, following a victory over the Toronto Six 3-0 in the “Buffalo Believes Classic” last Monday. Breaking Toronto’s eight-game winning streak certainly gave Buffalo a lot of momentum heading into this weekend against Boston. Following a two-game loss at the hands of the Connecticut Whale, the Pride looked to get back in the win column.
It was pretty noticeable that there was a two-week break, as Boston seemed a little bit slow to start. Of course, there’s always a bit of coordination issues in the first few minutes. But the neutral zone transitions and coast-to-coast passes were an early Achilles’ heel for the Pride. The evenly matched offense provided by both teams an early jolt, but the attacking zones couldn’t contribute to any goals just yet.
There were a lot of whistles in regulation, but not for penalties. The struggle to stay onsides was real, as the Pride and Beauts were eager to get a scoring chance. We admire the hustle, but rules are rules. The loose puck in the neutral zone allowed Boston to take a few deep scoring chances by the hand of Kayla Friesen to test netminder Carly Jackson, but nothing connected. Buffalo returned the favor by taking advantage of the openings presented by Boston’s defense, with Taylor Accursi and Allison Attea testing Lovisa Selander with a few shots. The Beauts were buzzing on offense as Boston’s defense seemed to struggle keeping up with them at times.
Shooting the puck on net is pretty standard to scoring goals, and Buffalo understood the assignment. It took a while for either team to score, but an offensive rush on the far right wing by Taylor Accursi set up an opportunity to make something happen. Accursi fed the puck to Dominique Kremer down low, Kremer cut in glove side to flip the puck past Selander at 17:09. Kremer’s fifth goal of the season put the Beauts up 1-0, the same score that would close out the period as Boston was unable to tie the game before the clock ran out.
End of the First Period: BUF – 1, BOS – 0.
Heading back onto the ice, Boston had two essential points to make sure they followed in order to score and hopefully win this game: tire out Buffalo’s defense and get pucks in deep establish a zone presence. Unfortunately, that gameplan was short-lived early on following a couple shots by Christina Putigna. The Beauts took little time in establishing their offensive zone presence with a 3-on-2 rush as Taylor Accursi caught a pass and buried the puck in the back of the net to put the Beauts up 2-0 at 1:41.
The early two-goal advantage gives Buffalo some breathing room, but not comfortable enough to call off their attack. A breakout play passed up to Emilie Harley who entered the zone covered by two defenders, shook them off to find room for a shot on net. Harley’s wrist shot beat Selander over the shoulder, expanding the Buffalo lead to 3-0 at 4:11. Boston Head Coach Paul Mara called a timeout following the goal, where the decision would be made to switch goaltenders. Katie Burt would get the nod to replace Lovisa Selander in net, hoping to shut down Buffalo for the rest of the game.
The fresh start in net for Boston translated to the forward lines, giving life to their bench, and allowing them to regroup offensively. The Pride took control following the Beauts goal with a few shots hoping to hit their mark. The more shots on net, one of them is bound to go in eventually, right? The guessing game is not ideal, and Mallory Souliotis said enough is enough. A corner battle saw Meghara McManus take possession and circle out to the point, finding Souliotis at the blue line wide open. A wicked slapshot by Souliotis found a clear path to the back of the net, giving Boston their first goal of the game at 7:55.
One goal is enough to get the wheels turning, putting the momentum in favor of Boston, to keep closing that gap on the scoreboard. The Beauts looked a bit dazed as they were following the puck that was seemingly glued to the Pride’s sticks for the latter half of the second period. The shooting gallery was in full effect for Boston as Carly Jackson was playing on her head, making save after save. Kayla Friesen took advantage of the neutral zone transition and carried the puck down low, with Christina Putigna in tow. Friesen slid the puck over to Putigna, back to Friesen for a quick one-timer to make it 3-2, closing the deficit to one at 16:01. Friesen’s third goal of the season minimized the lead to one.
A game within reach, Boston kept the pressure on in the attacking zone which tired out Buffalo’s defense. Boston outshot Buffalo 15 to 7 in the second period, which to Boston’s credit, most of those saves were made by Katie Burt. A few minutes after Friesen’s goal, McKenna Brand decided to take charge and end Buffalo’s lead. A faceoff win in the attacking zone by Kayla Friesen trickled out front where McKenna Brand was positioned for a pass, and instead grabbed the puck and skipped it past Jackson for the game-tying goal at 19:10. Brand gave Boston the much needed momentum boost heading into the second intermission, with a chance to take the lead in the final period of play.
End of the Second Period: BUF – 3, BOS – 3.
The final frame was a stalemate on the ice and on the scoreboard. Jillian Dempsey started things off for the Pride winning a faceoff and firing a few warning shots, to let the Beauts know that the Pride won’t go down without a fight. Each team had their share of working in the attacking zone, but each goaltender turned into a brick wall, saving most everything shot at them. We knew Katie Burt would make quick work of the Beauts shots, and rightfully so, they couldn’t connect on any of their opportunities.
In the first half of the third, things did pick up on the physical end, which made things a little spicy. There had been no penalties called thus far in regulation, but some plays could have resulted in a few players heading to the “doghouse” for extracurriculars. We’re thankful for the lack of penalties, although the Pride penalty kill unit has had a 91% success rate this season. Buffalo had been testing the limits of roughhousing, but the officials let the game play on. Hockey is a physical game, and who doesn’t love it when things get a little choppy?
Continued struggles to stay onside were still an issue, but both teams had gotten better as the game progressed. The second half of the period was where things became rather tense. A tie game in the third period, almost everyone usually assumes things will head to overtime. For much of the third period, this thought was becoming more and more concrete as nobody could score a go-ahead goal. Late in the period, things were coming down to the wire, Sammy Davis generated an offensive break into the attacking zone and fired a shot deflected by Carly Jackson. The rebound was picked up by Mary Parker, who buried it past Jackson for the go-ahead goal at 18:10. Parker made her return in the Connecticut Whale series at home, and was a part of the 2020-21 Isobel Cup Championship roster for Boston.
The goal would be reviewed following a Coach’s Challenge by Buffalo for a potential “offside” before the goal was scored. The review was brief and saw no offsides, which resulted in a good goal for Boston and a bench-minor penalty for Buffalo on the unsuccessful challenge. The bench minor would be served by Erin Gehen for the Beauts, which would consume the rest of the time in regulation. Since no physical penalty was committed, for technical purposes we can say there were no real penalties in this game. Yes, we’re surprised as well. As the clock ran down to the final seconds, Buffalo could not find a way to generate enough momentum to put them in scoring position.
With the final buzzer, Boston would pickup the come-from-behind victory and collect the three points they desperately needed ahead of the playoffs. The Beauts were consistent in the first half of the game, but somewhere lost their spark which shifted the momentum in the game. The Pride improve to 8-5, currently in third place behind the Connecticut Whale. The Beauts fall to 4-11, where they currently sit in sixth place. The season finale for the Pride at Warrior Ice Arena will take place Sunday at 1PM.