The script couldn’t have been written better for the Boston Pride, who were christened into their new home stadium, Warrior Ice Arena, on Saturday night to a championship ceremony. The celebration wasn’t reserved for just the pre game, however, as the Pride were able to sustain the late attack from the Buffalo Beauts to take a 2-1 shootout victory in front of a sold out crowd.
After a scoreless first period where the Pride dominated the pace of play, Jordan Smelker got on the board five minutes into the second for her first tally of the year. The Boston attack continued to pressure, but Beauts goalie Brianne McLaughlin, who finished with 45 saves, prevented the Pride from jumping ahead further.
Buffalo struggled to move the puck up ice, being forced to dump it in along the boards as the Pride used their physicality to force the Beauts away from the middle of the ice. However, a penalty from Amanda Pelkey with less than five minutes left in the game gave Buffalo the open ice it needed.
With Pelkey in the box, Beauts defender Sarah Casorso had space in the slot and she blasted a slapshot towards the net, which was tipped in by Shiann Darkangelo for her first goal of the season.
The game tied, Boston had plenty of chances to jump out again, with Kathryn Tomaselli a post away from breaking the deadlock, but instead the contest headed to overtime.
The extra period, a 4-on-4 period of five minutes, gave both teams plenty of chances, but the goaltending of McLaughlin and Ott forced the shootout.
After three skaters from each team was stopped by the opposing goaltender, Pelkey had a chance to redeem her penalty.
Redeem, she did.
Pelkey was able to beat McLaughlin five-hole, the first low shot of the night where McLaughlin slipped. Ott made the save on the final Beauts attempt, and Boston went home the victor on their Night of Champions.
“That was a battle down there, they played great,” Pride coach Bobby Jay said after the game. “But it was awesome. Our girls deserve it, our fans deserve it. I was happy for all of them.”
Smelker found the back of the net for the first time this season, while Brianna Decker and Zoe Hickel each picked up assists. Hickel was a stand out performer for the Pride, playing a physical contest and winning puck battles to create chances for Boston.
The Pride defeated the Beauts 2-0 in the best-of-three Isobel Cup last season, and Corrine Buie, a member of the Pride last year, took the ceremonial puck drop before the game against the Pride captain Decker. Megan Duggan, a member of the Beauts last season, shone for the Pride in her third game in the lineup, creating space for her linemates Alex Carpenter and Decker who each had several chances on net.
Boston’s victory places them at 3-0 to remain the only unbeaten team in the NWHL. Buffalo fell to 1-2, both of its losses at the hands of the Pride after the Beauts accomplished a comeback victory over Connecticut the week previous.
Boston will be back in Brighton this Saturday night to play the New York Riveters for the second time this season.