By: Jake Solomons | Follow me on Twitter @jake_solomons
Hockey games are always fun to watch; we all know that. But when you check the schedule to see two rivals are set to play each other, you know you’re going to see some of the best action of the season. Sure enough, the Boston Pride traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota, to face their bitter rivals, the Minnesota Whitecaps, for the second time this season for another two-game series over the weekend. This was the second meeting in two weeks between both teams.
The offense for both teams was evenly-matched, a much better showing this time around for Minnesota as they managed to get their first win on Saturday. Jonna Curtis notched two goals in the first game, leading the Whitecaps into the win column. Sunday’s action was quite exciting, specifically among the special teams with 11 total penalties on the day. The Pride took home the win in Game two, which allowed them to travel home to Boston with at least one victory. With that said, let’s take a look back at this weekend’s highlights as these two powerhouses met for the final time in the regular season.
A scoreless first period is full of anxiety. No goals, a back, and forth offense, and sometimes a few questionable calls. But on the other hand, it just means that the defense and goaltenders for both teams understood their assignment. The first period started out pretty intense, as a rivalry game often does, with the Pride and Whitecaps battling for the upper hand. Boston’s chances began early with a powerplay after Maddie Rowe was sent to the penalty box for hooking at 2:30. The powerplay was unsuccessful, surprise surprise. The offense was slow for both teams; maybe jet lag for Boston and a two-week rest for Minnesota could contribute to their style of play on Saturday. Regardless of the circumstances, the scoring opportunities need to present themselves better in the next period of play.
The offense and defense were undoubtedly busy, but the goaltender battle was quite impressive. Amanda Leveille’s first period in the net for Minnesota was the most productive, with 18 saves and zero goals allowed. Katie Burt for Boston recorded nine saves in the first with zero goals. With both netminders playing on their heads for the first 20 minutes, the second frame would certainly be fun to watch.
End of the first: Boston – 0, Minnesota: – 0.
An early two-on-one breakaway by Allie Thunstrom and Haley Mack for Minnesota created some life, but the crossbar got in the way of a celebration. The Whitecaps’ speed was certainly on display in the second period, but it only goes so far until you need to start putting the puck in the net.
Boston’s first player advantage of the period came as Chelsea Rosenthal was called for hooking 8:41. The attacking zone for the Pride during the powerplay was anything but attacking. A strong effort by Mallory Souliotis deep in the zone created some offense along the boards but nothing connected with the back of the net. This left Boston 0/2 on the powerplay so far. Hopefully, Coach Mara can adjust the powerplay lines this coming week to make sure they actually score goals. With the level of talent Boston has on the ice, they should be capitalizing and scoring on every powerplay opportunity.
A five-minute-major penalty on Alex Woken at 13:48 for elbowing on Taylor Wenczkowski put Boston in charge for the remainder of the period with the player advantage. A relay to the corner caused a collision, and a high elbow to the face of Wenczkowski afforded Boston the advantage.
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Kaleigh Fratkin getting a penalty. Jonna Curtis attempted a lucky poke check which created some space for a breakaway, tripped up in the zone, and recorded the first goal of the game for the Whitecaps all in one motion. The tripping penalty at 16:47 on Kaleigh Fratkin created an even 4-on-4 playing field. Shortly after, Amanda Boulier was sent to the bin for holding at 17:30.
End of the Second: Minnesota – 1, Boston – 0.
It seemed the Pride didn’t learn their lesson as the third period opened with Kayla Friesen getting called for a boarding penalty at 3:17. Minnesota made leveled out the penalty 4-on-4 with too many players at 4:30. Jillian Dempsey joined the penalty parade with a holding call at 4:43, making it 4-on-3 for less than a minute. Three penalties in three minutes are not ideal, but when you pray for some excitement in the final period of the game, you take what you can get.
A tripping penalty on Ashley Brykaliuk at 9:39 put Boston on the player advantage. The Pride have had such poor numbers as their powerplay opportunities now stand at 1-for-21 with the unsuccessful attempt. Minnesota controlled the third period in its entirety, with Boston really unable to break out and create any scoring opportunities in their attacking zone. Holding the puck too long in the defensive zone allowed the Whitecaps’ forecheck to take advantage and overwhelm Boston with pressure.
Coach Paul Mara decided to pull the goalie at 18:49 with the hope that a 6-on-5 would give them some hope for a game-tying goal. A fanned shot by Amanda Boulier at the blue line let Jonna Curtis take possession and fire the puck down the ice and find the net for her second goal of the game. The Pride could not find the room or time on the clock to muster up any last-effort offense as the clock ran down to zero, giving the Whitecaps their first victory of the season.
End of Regulation: Minnesota – 2, Boston – 0.
The final game of the season between the Pride and the Whitecaps would need to be played with playoff-level energy if Boston wants to stay above .500. Victoria Hanson got her first start in net for Boston after Katie Burt had two consecutive outings resulting in a loss. Not to be negative in that regard, but it is important to keep the puck out of the net, and Burt has not done that.
Boston’s first powerplay opportunity in Sunday’s tilt came after Taylor Turnquist was caught red-handed for hooking at 6:26. If you guessed that the Pride couldn’t do anything on the powerplay, you were right. Taylor Wenczkowski went to the box shortly after that for elbowing at 7:45 to make it a 4-on-4 for 44 seconds. Try saying that five times fast. The penalty kill for Boston and Minnesota were both successful, keeping the scoreboard blank for now.
The offensive rushes for both teams are certainly better. They were finding room and creating chances the game plan which Boston had picked up on as Christina Putigna snuck a back-door wrap-around goal assisted by Kayla Friesen at 17:55 for the Pride’s first lead of the weekend. Making plays and beating a goalie where they can’t defend is effective every time. A goal for Boston would not be complete without drawing a subsequent penalty, this time by forward Abby Cook at 18:54 for cross-checking. The Whitecaps begin the second period on the powerplay for a short time.
End of the first: Boston – 1, Minnesota – 0.
The second period is evidently sponsored by 4-on-4 hockey, with six penalties recorded in the second frame. The special team’s penalty kill unit for the Pride have been near perfect this season, adding another successful PK bid off of Abby Cook’s cross-check. To be honest, I’d rather have a more robust penalty kill unit than a powerplay line because defense wins championships – even though scoring goals is an effective strategy to winning games.
Minnesota’s netminder Amanda Leveille has been challenged more in Sunday’s matchup following the Pride’s loss on Saturday. I’m not sure what Coach Mara relayed to his team in the locker room before the game today, but they’re playing with playoff-like intensity, which is dangerous for anyone lining up against Boston in the faceoff circle. Stephanie Anderson took an unlucky penalty for tripping at 7:00. The short-lived powerplay for Boston was ended by Kaleigh Fratkin called for cross-checking at 7:23. Did you think this game would be played without Fratty getting a penalty? Me neither.
The 4-on-4 allowed Minnesota to capitalize, with Haley Mack making a rush on offense and firing a backhander to beat Hanson to tie the game at one. Although they tied the game, Boston got a lucky break 39 seconds later as Mack got called for a high-sticking penalty at 9:00, putting Boston on the powerplay once again. The player-advantage concept has been nonexistent as Kaleigh Fratkin was sent to take another two-minute timeout for body-checking Allie Thunstrom at 10:39. If you bet the over on Kaleigh Fratkin penalties today, you won. The Pride successfully killed the penalty even though most of the action was seen in the Minnesota attacking zone.
A couple of matching penalties for Boston’s Lauren Kelly for high-sticking and Audra Morrison for roughing, both at 16:38, resulted in more 4-on-4 action on the day. No goals for either team on the powerplay; the clock ran down to zero as both teams went to the locker room looking for energy to close out the weekend with a win.
End of the Second: Boston – 1, Minnesota – 1.
The first five minutes of the third were very evenly matched as both teams came out looking to get some sort of advantage, both unsuccessful on their scoring chances. The Whitecaps got a break at 5:15 as Lauren Kelly recorded another penalty, this time for hooking. The penalty was killed off by the Pride, making it four successful attempts on the day. McKenna Brand got away with a pretty late hit on Audra Morrison, leaving Morrison shaken up on the ice for a few moments. To everyone’s surprise, including mine, no penalty was called.
An offensive break for Christina Putigna gave Boston some life but no scoring success. The relay by two Minnesota defenders resulted in Taylor Turnquist taking a nasty fall and crashing into the boards. Turnquist was helped off the ice after being evaluated by the training staff in the corner, a very good sign as she skated off on her own power to the locker room for further evaluations. Fingers crossed, no serious injuries. I don’t care what team you play for; dangerous plays like that are never fun to watch. Turnquist did not return for the rest of the game.
The Pride had another chance at the go-ahead goal with another powerplay chance on a tripping call drawn by Ashley Brykaliuk at 14:30. The powerplay unsuccessful yet again. The third period has been filled with anxiety, a back and forth game for the most part. The goaltenders had been tremendous thus far, especially Victoria Hanson in her first start this season for Boston. If the Pride can secure a win, Coach Paul Mara may have to consider giving Hanson a look for the next game on December 4, 2021, against Toronto at home. As the final buzzer sounded, the score still sits at 1-1. There’s only one way to decide a winner: Overtime!
End of Regulation: Boston – 1, Minnesota – 1.
We love free hockey, but Boston wasted absolutely no time ending the game with a goal 1:15 into overtime. The five-minute period started and finished faster than I realized, so if you blinked, you missed it. The opening faceoff gave Minnesota time to set up and breakout with a quick scoring chance. Thankfully the play was broken up by McKenna Brand, who took the puck end-to-end for Boston to take advantage on offense. Brand carried the puck in the zone flanked by Amanda Boulier, a pass to Boulier gave her room to send a wrist shot glove-side past Amanda Leveille for the overtime winner. Boulier joined the Pride this past offseason after playing the last two seasons with the Minnesota Whitecaps, ironically enough.
End of Overtime: Boston – 2, Minnesota – 1.
Boston’s victory now puts them back in the win column as they head into the Thanksgiving break with a 4-2 record. The Minnesota Whitecaps fall to a 1-3 record with a much-needed break this coming weekend, hopefully where they can re-evaluate their gameplan for the remainder of the season.
Following the Thanksgiving break, the Boston Pride will return home to Warrior Arena, where they will host the Toronto Six on Saturday, December 4, 2021, at 7 pm EST, and Sunday, December 5, 2021, at 1 pm EST. Streaming is available on ESPN+ and TSN International.