By: Jake Solomons | Follow Me On Twitter! @jake_solomons
The Boston Pride are heading into their final exhibition game in preparation for the 2021-22 Regular Season as they host the Toronto Six on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at 6 pm in Falmouth, MA. The two organizations will look to shake off any last cobwebs before the season begins on Saturday, November 6.
Going into the fourth week of training camp, both teams should ideally be in mid-season form. However, even in the middle of the season, there’s room for improvement in all areas.
I’ve Just Seen A (Familiar) Face
The Boston Pride and Toronto Six met twice in the 2020-21 season, splitting their series 1-1. In their first matchup on January 26, 2021, Toronto defeated Boston 2-1 in regulation. Then first-year forward Brooke Boquist and Mikyla Grant-Mentis recorded one goal apiece in the Six’s first victory as a franchise, while Christina Putigna netted a goal for the Pride. One statistic, however, added more significance than goals scored…13 penalties (TOR – 7, BOS – 6). Boston blueliner Kaleigh Fratkin accounted for three of the Pride’s six penalties, all tripping minors with one resulting in an (unsuccessful) penalty shot.
On March 26, 2021, the second matchup saw the Pride overpower Toronto 6-2 in the Semifinal round of the 2020-21 playoffs. Boston took turns scoring as different players scored all six goals. Four of the six-goal scorers each recorded an assist as well—plenty of apples for everyone. Mikyla Grant-Mentis kept Toronto in the conversation with another goal and assist against Boston, with Breanne Wilson-Bennett matching her with a goal and an assist of her own. Both teams are more than capable of pressuring the goaltenders with shots on net. Saturday will surely be a battle of who has more offensive firepower.
Strength in Numbers
The Toronto Six enters Saturday’s game with a 21-player roster. Returning players like Mikyla Grant-Mentis and first-year standout Brooke Boquist will look to put the league on notice this season, with a full schedule ahead of them. The bubble season was condensed, with not much time for Toronto to solidify a spot atop the PHF. To be fair, Boston was in fourth place, but the Riveters opting out of the bubble afforded them a playoff berth in exchange. The rest is her-story.
Grant-Mentis had quite a season in 2020-21, recording five goals and four assists, a league-leading nine points tied with Boston Pride defender Kaleigh Fratkin. A graduate of nearby Merrimack College, Grant-Mentis will return to keep her momentum rolling this Saturday and into Season 7. Brooke Boquist provided Toronto’s arsenal with two goals and two assists last season. Impressive first-year stats, but they are numbers she can expand on in an entire season in 2021.
Same Team, Same Goal
Boston will head into Saturday’s exhibition with a 20-player roster, with 14 players returning from last season. Led by offensive sharpshooters Christina Putigna and Taylor Wenczkowski, the Pride are going all-in to defend their Isobel Cup Championship. Putigna made headlines last season with her offensive ability, six regular-season assists, and four in the playoffs. With two goals to add to her 2020-21 resume. Wenczkowski’s speed and awareness were a factor that created scoring opportunities last season, with two goals and one assist. Most notably, one came as the game-winning goal in the Pride’s Championship victory over the Minnesota Whitecaps on March 27, 2021.
Training Camp has allowed new-signee Kayla Friesen to adjust to her new team quite nicely. The “Red Line,” based on their recent practice jersey color selection, Putigna-Wenczkowski-Friesen, is a blueprint for success on offense. But more importantly, they’re a recipe for disaster if you’re trying to defend your zone against them. In the two exhibition games against Harvard, the three players had a total of six goals and four assists. Those stats technically “don’t count” since they’re practice games…so I feel bad for their opponent when the games DO count.
Do you (Net)Mind?
Saturday will come down to one factor, goaltending. Both netminders will need a near-perfect save percentage if they want to ensure a victory for their team. With the firepower on both sides, it will be a challenging task. But not impossible.
Lovisa Selander will look to establish herself early in net for Boston, recording a .947 save percentage last season with a 1.47 Goal Against Average (GAA). Selander is joined this season by newly-signed goaltender Katie Burt.
Katie Burt is no stranger to the Pride after being drafted in 2018-19 by Boston. In her first year, she established herself at the professional level with an 11-5 record and a .920 save percentage. After a two-year hiatus from dawning the black and gold sweater, Burt is back to ensure a solid defensive foundation for the Boston Pride this season.
Elaine Chuli will most likely get the nod from head coach Mark Joslin to start in net this Saturday. Chuli had a stellar 2020-21 season with a 4-1 overall record and a .936 save percentage. Having played previously with the Toronto Furies in the now-disbanded CWHL, Chuli’s experience in Toronto creates opportunities to improve her game tremendously in a familiar setting.
Saturday’s game will be available for streaming on MyHockeyLive.com, with puck drop scheduled for 6:00pmET. Admission to the contest is free, and all donations will be going to Tommy’s Place.
The regular season gets underway on November 6, as the Boston Pride host the Minnesota Whitecaps in their home opener at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, MA. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET. Toronto will travel to Buffalo to take on the Beauts at Northtown Center; puck drop is set for 7:00 pm ET.