OT is not enough to settle Game 1 of Pride's Return To Warrior - Putigna, Brand shine in Shootout
After a month on the road, the Boston Pride finally returned to Warrior Arena to successfully defend home ice to defeat the Toronto Six 2-1 in a shootout Saturday evening. Collecting the two points for Boston is all well and good, but handing an undefeated team like Toronto their first loss of the season, it doesn’t get much better. The friction between these two teams has certainly blossomed into a full-on rivalry with first place hanging in the balance.
The tension in the first period could be cut with a knife, or a skate blade, as both teams were relentless offensively and defensively. The Six rented out the penalty box early on with Shiann Darkangelo called for hooking at 3:47. The Pride powerplay was unsuccessful unfortunately, as they seemed to move in slow motion throughout most of the period. The Thanksgiving break is tough on everyone so the slow start for Boston is understandable. Katelyn Russ made sure Toronto didn’t feel left out of the powerplay party, as she was sent to the box for boarding at 9:14. Thankfully they were unable to capitalize on that player-advantage as the score stood at 0-0 heading into the second period.
A much needed rest allowed both teams to recharge and regroup, hoping to strike first on the scoreboard in the Second period. The Toronto Six scoring opportunities presented themselves well, finding open spaces to take advantage. The momentum was still one-sided to open the second as Emma Woods put on a clinic, dangling not one but two Boston defenders and finish with a top-shelf sniper to put Toronto up 1-0.
From that goal on, the physicality picked up quite a bit. The Pride needed something that would be effective if the scoring wasn’t; using the body worked well. An intense, physical hockey game is the best kind of hockey game. The Toronto Six really wanted to drive that point home as forward Leah Marino was called for tripping at 10:20. A much needed player-advantage to get something going for Boston.
Another unsuccessful powerplay for Boston was not the ideal outcome, but as long as Toronto didn’t score it’s fine. However, an offensive breakaway by Toronto’s Michela Cava crashed into the net following a shot, rebounded by Shiann Darkangelo to put the Six up 2-0…or so we thought. The Boston Pride bench challenged the call on the ice as Cava interfered with the goaltender to prevent saving the shot. After reviewing the goal for a few moments, the officials confirmed the goal did not count. The player crashing into the net must be forced into it by contact for a goal to count. As that was not the case, the goal was called back. Naturally, the Toronto Six bench was not happy, but rules are rules.
After technically cutting the lead in half from 2-0 to 1-0, Boston had a very big opportunity to tie the game instead of playing catch-up in the third period.
The final period of play commenced with a lot of back and forth plays, nothing connecting on the scoring chances. However, Boston’s offensive zone presence generated some momentum as a would-be zone clearing by Toronto was held in at the blue line and sent in deep to find McKenna Brand’s stick. Brand passed to the middle to Jillian Dempsey. Dempsey circled outside to find room and fired an awkward, off-balance wrist shot, beating goaltender Amanda Ridgewell over-the-shoulder to tie the game at one.
The goal by Dempsey gave Boston some relief but the foot needed to stay on the gas for the remainder of the period. Surely the confidence was boosted on the Pride bench, but the penalties began to pick up to break up any momentum. Boston’s newest edition to the team, Olympic Gold medalist Kali Flanagan, recorded her first infraction of the season after being assessed a tripping call at 12:51. The special teams unit for Boston was successful killing most of the penalty. Jenna Rheault joined Flanagan in the box for six seconds after a hooking call 14:43. Both penalties served their time, successfully killed off by the Pride. As the period winded down, the intensity picked up with everyone trying fire the go-ahead goal. Intensity is good, but sometimes it goes too far and you get two minutes for roughing like Michela Cava at 17:24. The powerplay was unsuccessful, as the third period came to an end, tied 1-1.
The 3-on-3 overtime period created more anxiety for fans than it did scoring chances for the players. Both teams were held to the outside most of the time with the exception of a few breakaways, however nothing connected. The five-minute stalemate in Overtime would carry over to a shootout as the clock hit zero, still tied at one.
The goaltender battle throughout this game was unbelievable. With three goals allowed over 66 total shots, that save percentage is quite impressive. In the shootout round, perfection is key. Christina Putigna opened the round with a deke combination and a quick puck lift past Ridgewell to strike first for Boston. Emma Woods fired a shot wide, unable to tie it. Amanda Boulier was also unsuccessful in her attempt. Mikyla Grant-Mentis was shut out by Lovisa Selander to hold the 1-0 shootout lead. McKenna Brand called game with a strong backhand shot finding the net, securing the game-winner for the Pride.
The shootout win puts Boston at 5-2 on the season, with the Toronto Six recording their first loss now sitting at 3-0-1 overall. The momentum, though it shifted back and forth for more than regulation, will carry into Sunday’s game in favor of Boston as they look to capitalize on their victory Saturday.