By: Jake Solomons | Follow me on Twitter @jake_solomons
The PHF has been on hiatus for a week or so due to the Thanksgiving break last weekend. However, the Boston Pride have been on the road for the past month, finally returning Saturday evening to host the Toronto Six. After an overly-intense regulation, overtime, and shootout period, Boston handed the Six their first loss of the season with a 2-1 victory. The last meeting between these two teams took place in an exhibition on October 30, 2021, with the same result, 2-1 Boston. Although Toronto is a relatively new organization, there is certainly some bad blood that’s been fueling a rivalry, especially with the control of first place at stake.
Both teams came out firing on all cylinders; pressure on defense and offense helped set the tone for the game, essentially. The penalty calls began rathe quickly as Toronto christened the penalty box with Shiann Darkangelo called for hooking at 3:47. The Pride powerplay was unsuccessful, not a good precedent to set against a juggernaut like Toronto. You have to capitalize on the player advantage. It wouldn’t be fair to let Toronto have the only penalty in the period, and Katelyn Russ made sure of that, as she was sent to the box for boarding at 9:14. The penalty kill for Boston all season has been unreal, so they killed off the penalty successfully, as expected. With that PK cleared, the scoreboard remained blank 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.
Following the goal, the Pride needed to regroup and find something that would generate momentum; playing physical was the answer. The Toronto Six got caught up in the physical mentality as well; with forward, Leah Marino was called for tripping at 10:20. A much-needed player advantage to get something going for Boston. The ongoing pattern of Boston’s unsuccessful powerplays added yet another one for the record books.
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 the goal was disallowed, the momentum shifted into Boston’s favor with the opportunity to tie the game in the third period.
End of Second: Toronto – 1, Boston – 0.
Boston’s offensive zone presence was on full display for the puck drop, generating scoring chances left and right. The Pride gained 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 on the outside wing on the wraparound. Brand saucered to the middle to Jillian Dempsey. Dempsey circling to the outer circle to find room and ripped an off-balance wrister, beating goaltender Amanda Ridgewell over-the-shoulder to tie it up 1-1.
Dempsey’s goal provided relief, but the Pride needed to keep applying the pressure. Boston’s newest signee, Olympic Gold medalist Kali Flanagan, was assessed a tripping call at 12:51, her first penalty of the season. The PK unit for Boston was successful in killing most of the penalty. Jenna Rheault joined Flanagan in the box shortly after that for six seconds after a hooking call 14:43. Both penalties were successfully killed off by the Pride. A few minutes later, Toronto’s Michela Cava was caught for roughing at 17:24. The powerplay was unsuccessful, as the third period came to an end, tied 1-1.
End of Third: Boston – 1, Toronto – 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 minutes of scoring silence in Overtime would send the game to a shootout as the clock hit zero, still tied at one.
Boston -1, Toronto – 1.
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 began the round, deking and lifting the puck past Ridgewell to tally the first goal for Boston. Emma Woods wound up on a wrister sent wide, unable to tie it. Amanda Boulier was blocked in a slapshot attempt. Mikyla Grant-Mentis was denied by Lovisa Selander to hold the 1-0 lead. McKenna Brand showed up and took control with a fierce backhand connecting with the back of the net, the game-winning goal for the Pride.
Final Score: Boston -2, Toronto – 1.
The shootout win improves Boston’s record to 5-2 on the season, while the Toronto Six record their first loss, falling to 3-0-1 overall. The deck is now stacked in Boston’s favor heading into Sunday’s matchup, hoping to complete the sweep. They will host the Toronto Six at 1:00 PM on Sunday, December 5. Streaming is available on ESPN+ and TSN International.