Pride Sweep the Weekend to Begin the Year
In the opening weekend of the PHF era, the Boston Pride hosted Minnesota Whitecaps and skated away with a maximum six points in the team’s first two games. Boston was the only team in the league to complete the sweep during week one. Boston and Minnesota dropped the puck on the inaugural season of the Premier Hockey Federation with the Pride raising a banner and laying down the offense in a high-scoring 6-4 affair.
At the 5:01 mark of the first period on Boston’s first power play, new team member Kayla Friesen picked up the puck in the high slot and fed it to Taylor Wenczkowski who fired a one-timer high and past Amanda Leveille for the first Pride goal of the season.
Late in the period, captain Jillian Dempsey doubled the Pride lead with her first of the season. The marker was also a history-making one for Dempsey who became the first player in PHF history to score 50 goals for their career. When told of the accomplishment, Boston’s captain was fairly unfazed, choosing to focus instead on the strength of the team.
“I think it’s more a testament to the group and to the linemates that played last night. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about, I’m just happy that I can contribute to the team and do the job that they expect of me.”
Just a few minutes into the second period after successfully killing Minnesota’s first power play of the game, the veterans of Dempsey and Mckenna Brand connected after a great zone entry to extend the Boston lead to three. It was a beautiful backhand from Brand to beat Leveille.
With just one minute left in the second, Katelynn Russ contributed another beautiful pass into the low slot where Meghara McManus deked her way to a highlight reel worthy goal. It was a welcome tally for McManus who had nearly broken through early in the game with her aggressive style of play.
Her third line scored two goals on Saturday, and McManus was quick to point out the great forward chemistry that has come out of hard work. “We just look to build off of that. Set simple goals like ‘hey, let’s win the battles in the corners and let’s look for each other out front’. I think with a lot of talent in the middle me, Russ or Tori [Sullivan] can work off of Evelina [Raselli] and work together.”
Jonna Curtis ended Lovisa Selander’s bid for a shutout at 3:47 of the third period, using her speed to beat Selander through the pads. Not even a minute later Kayla Friesen scored her first goal as a member of the Pride, doing it all on her own after an offensive zone takeaway.
At the 11:29 of the third, Raselli added to the Pride offensive onslaught with her first career PHF goal. It was also the first from a Swiss-born player in PHF history. In her homecoming to Warrior Ice Arena, former Pride standout Lexie Laing responded quickly at the other end to give Minnesota back a little life, making it a 6-2 game.
With Friesen headed to the box at 14:25, Minnesota took advantage on the power play. Noted thorn in the Pride’s side Allie Thunstrum snuck one past Selander with traffic out front as the Whitecaps were trying their hardest to rally late. Thunstrum again kept the juices flowing when she scored a shorthanded goal at 18:13 to cut the Pride lead to just two. The Pride defense and the clocked helped to stop the bleeding with Boston taking their first three points of the season.
The goal lamp lit up far fewer times during the Sunday matinee as Katie Burt recorded the PHF’s first shutout in a 1-0 Pride win. McKenna Brand was the only goal scorer for the Pride, notching her second goal of the season with just two seconds remaining on a penalty assessed to Christina Putigna in the second period. Kaleigh Fratkin assisted on the goal giving her 70 career NWHL/PHF points as the league’s highest-scoring defender.
Special teams and staying disciplined were themes throughout the game as the two teams combined for eight trips to the penalty box. Minnesota showed more offensive jump earlier in the game, something they didn’t show as often on Saturday when Boston took an early 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.
Burt took the win in her first start for the Pride since 2019. She played around the New England hub with the PWHPA last season. Boston outshot the Whitecaps in both games, registering 34 shots on goal Saturday and 36 on Sunday.
The Pride are the only team in action this coming weekend as they will face the 1-1-0 Connecticut Whale on the road in Danbury. Their next weekend series at home will be December 4th and 5th against the Toronto Six, a team that took a late win over the Buffalo Beauts on Saturday.
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