Selander Shuts Door, Boston Defeats Minnesota to Stay Undefeated
By Michael Lindenbaum of TXHThockey.com
When the Pride signed NCAA all-time saves leader Lovisa Selander to a contract this summer, some observers felt it rocked the balance of power in the NWHL towards Boston. The Pride’s 3-1 win over Minnesota on Saturday may have justified that reaction.
Although Boston coach Paul Mara believes the shot-counters may have been a bit over-caffeinated, whether Selander made 47 saves (as it’s currently stated on the game sheet) is really not the point. Selander was magnificent when she had to be, and the Pride collectively chilled Minnesota’s high-powered offense.
“My teammates kept most of their shots to the outside, blocked a bunch of shots, and the ones that came through, I got good looks at,” said Selander.
Asked if she thought she made 47 saves, she laughed. “I have no idea,” Selander said. “It’s not like I’m counting them as they come in.”
The Pride made their shots count, getting one goal each period: first, by Alyssa Wohlfeiler, followed by McKenna Brand in the second period, and Kaleigh Fratkin in the third. Brand’s fifth of the season came off a pass from captain Jillian Dempsey. Fratkin’s goal came just over a minute into the third period.
Defender Mallory Souliotis had assists on the goals by Brand and by her defense partner, Fratkin.
“Kaleigh and I play similarly, and that makes us a strong pairing,” said Souliotis. “She makes such smart decisions out there.”
Down 3-0, the Whitecaps continued to fight, and that was when Selander was at her best. While Minnesota was shorthanded, Allie Thunstrom had a breakaway, but Selander robbed her with a spectacular save to keep the Pride's lead at three.
Late in the period, Thunstrom would get another opportunity and this time she would drill it home for her third goal of the season, cutting the Pride's lead to two. But Selander and the Pride shut the door to remain undefeated at 4-0, while the Whitecaps dropped to 1-1-1. The teams meet again on Sunday.
“Although we played very well overall, there were enough things that we need to tighten up tomorrow if we want to come away with another two points,” said Souliotis. “We know how good the Whitecaps are, and they’re only going to be tougher on Sunday.”
After the game, Mara rolled off a series of names of players he felt deserved credit for defeating the defending Isobel Cup champions in the first of a two-game set at Warrior Ice Arena.
“We got McKenna Brand not just scoring, but winning two races to negate icings,” said Mara. “All of our players are committed to doing the little things like that. Tori Sullivan doesn’t look like a rookie out there. Another strong game from her. We were fortunate to add Emily Fluke, who plays hard every shift and is skilled. She blocked a few shots tonight. Demps is Demps. Lexie Laing did it all again tonight. Our D was solid. I could go on. But I also have to say Lovisa is awesome. So cool and composed out there. Lovisa came to us with a reputation for being one of the best young goalies in the world, and I feel like she’s exceeded what I expected.”
Before leaving to join her teammates at the post-game meet-and-greet with Pride fans, Selander shared a few words about her first few weeks with the Pride and in the NWHL.
“I’m so glad I made the decision to commit to this team and this league,” said Selander. “I’m enjoying every second of it. The fans have been great, the staff and everyone at the rink is fantastic. We’ve got a really good group here with the Pride, and I’m really excited about being part of it for the long run.”
With reporting by Jane Norton
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay