By David F. Pendrys
CAMBRIDGE, MA-The first place Connecticut Whale visited The Boston Pride for the second time and came away with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Gold and Black in a nonetheless exciting game between the NWHL’s two top teams.
Tara Tomimoto, the Yale alum, got Connecticut on the board first launching a shot from deep in the zone past Boston’s Brittany Ott. That would be the end of the Whale scoring the rest of the day though as Boston responded on the power play much later in period one, as the puck came to Jordan Smelker who came in from Whale goalie (and another Yale alum) Jaimie Leonoff’s right and she lofted the puck over the netminder’s shoulder.
The tie score would last quite awhile through period 2 until another Pride power play. Gigi Marvin unleashed a hard shot over Leonoff while the goalkeeper was down low. This had come 5 seconds before a 5 on 3 was set to expire, thus keeping the Whale on the penalty kill, only to have yet another minor called soon afterward. Despite the long duration of the disadvantage, the Whale only gave up one goal, though it would prove to be the game winner.
Later in the period Amanda Pelkey was on Leonoff’s left almost perpendicular to the net. She shot a low percenter of a shot at the goal. It bounced off a Whale defender and in for a 3-1 lead. Early in the third, Hilary Knight used a similar technique as she broke in Leonoff’s left and shot it, only to have it approach a Whale player, who tried to clear it, but instead the puck was knocked under the netminder for a 4-1 Boston advantage.
Connecticut didn’t go away, and intensely fought to get back into the game. Whereas their shot total in the second had been low, and Boston’s high, things evened out. The Whale tried to get it past the determined Ott, who played a fantastic game, to fend off the high powered CT offense. A late pair of Boston penalties did not help the Whale capitalize despite no lack of trying.
Ott finished the game with 20 saves on 21 shots. Leonoff had 30 saves on 34 shots. With the loss the Connecticut Whale fall to 11-2 but remain with 22 points at the top of the league. Boston rises to 9-3-0-1 and 19 points. All of the teams are off this week for the All Star Game in Buffalo. However the two teams will meet again on January 31st at a Whale home game at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford at 6 p.m.
Post game reaction:
Boston’s Jillian Dempsey
On the game:
“I think we had a little bit of a slowish start other than what we wanted. When we really turned it up early on in the second we were consistent all the way through. We just want to have that for the full sixty minutes and continue to forecheck and pressure teams to turnovers. If we do that we’re going to wear them down earlier on and get some goals earlier on.”
On the penalty kill:
“I think we were just trying to really hard to get into the lanes and people were more determined to win those battles. Penalty kill is a good chance for us to get momentum and get some energy. We really kinda thrive in that situation. We get really fired up about it. Having a great kill gets us energized for and pumped up for the next shift and the next kill that comes.”
Boston’s Brianna Decker
On strategy against the Whale:
“We just gotta take away that first line of theirs with Stack and Darkangelo. Those two are pretty skilled players. If you give them time and space they’ll make something happen. I thought our D did a great job at closing the gap on them and taking them out of the play.”
Boston’s Amanda Pelkey
On her goal:
“I saw Zoe [Hickel] back door,” Pelkey explained and then proceeded to set up a pass. “I kinda did a shot pass, because I wanted to get it to her, so I did it harder than a regular pass. In the midst of that it hit one of the defensive sticks and I guess if you just throw it to the net, sometimes it can go in. That’s why I was surprised because when you don’t mean to necessarily do something and then you’re like
‘oh I’ll take it.’”
The Whale’s Danielle Ward
On the game:
“It was really frustrating because I know we can do better and I know we have a lot more give than that.”
On what to change:
“We have a lot to overcome. We need to make a big adjustment. I know we’re going to practice our penalty kill at lot more. We talked about that in the locker room and just giving a full sixty minutes is something we really need to figure out, so that’ll be a big adjustment next game.”
Other Notes: (A non exhaustive list of some of the nonscoring plays in the game. There are likely 20 plays for every one noted here.)
- Jillian Dempsey had a blocked shot. Very late in the game Alyssa Gagliardi stood in front of a puck preventing the Whale from getting a much needed shot on net.
- Jordan Smelker stole it and brought it out, Kacey Bellamy broke up a Whale attempt and got the puck away from the Boston zone, Marissa Gedman poked it away at one pointfrom the blue line, Corinne Buie stole it and cleared the puck. Decker intercepted a CT pass and brought it out. Later in the third period, Smelker took the puck out of the zone.
- Gigi Marvin intercepted a pass to keep the puck inside the blue line in the Whale zone to prolong an attack.
- During Boston’s first penalty of the game, Knight and Decker broke away on a short handed try. On a penalty kill in the third period, Alyssa Gagliardi deflected a shot, Decker later took care of the puck as well. On an additional penalty, Dempsey knocked the puck down and then cleared it. She would later clear it again.
- Danielle Ward got a rebound from the goal mouth and brought the puck out. She would later hit the puck away from the net. In the third period, Shannon Doyle removed the puck from the net area too.
- Kate Buesser and Yekaterina Smolentseva stole one in the Pride zone for a scoring try.
- On the Whale’s first penalty, Jessica Koizumi knocked the puck out of their zone. On a later one, Micaela Long stole the puck and moved it out of their end. Buesser had a blocked shot. Fratkin cleared it on an even later penalty.