By David F. Pendrys
NORTHFORD, CT- When the Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale clash there is usually a ton of scoring and this was again the case on Saturday night. However almost all of the scoring came from one team as CT won their home opener 6-1. The green and white deployed Nicole Stock in net and opposing her was the stalwart Buffalo netminder Brianne McLaughlin.
Nicole Kosta opened up the scoring during a Buffalo power play when the puck bounced off a Beaut’s stick and right to her at the edge of the blue line. She broke down the ice and scored one on one with the keeper at 8:37.
“I think we did really well pressuring them,” Kosta said. First period pressure. We had great support today. I think that was the difference today with the support and our relentless pressure. I mean the scoring was there, we were finishing today. I think that made a big difference.”
3 minutes later Kelli Stack scored assisted by Ivana Bilic. She had gotten the puck at the edge of the Buffalo zone and skated in shadowed by a defender. This didn’t prevent her from bouncing it past McLaughlin and into the net.
The first period would close with CT letting loose 20 shots to Buffalo’s two.
In the second the Whale kept striking. Sam Faber picked up their third goal assisted by Micaela Long and Bilic. She had the puck in the neutral zone and saw a large gap in the Buffalo defense open up, which she skated through for a one on one showdown with the keeper which she won.
“Micaela made a nice pass in the neutral zone and the seas kinda just parted. I just went in and went five hole,” Faber said.
About 4 minutes later Kosta struck again assisted by fellow QU alums Nicole Connery and Kelly Babstock. She was right in front of the net when the puck came to her and she was able to use that point blank position to knock it in before she could be stopped.
Buffalo got on the board at 19:04 as Corinne Buie scored on the power play assisted by Emily Pfalzer. There had been a massive scrum in front of Stock and the puck popped out right to Buie who hit it into the net. When the period wrapped up Buffalo had actually sent 14 shots on net thanks in part to four Whale penalties. The Whale had seven shots in the period but scored on two of them which is not a bad percentage.
In the third the Whale really shut the door launching 15 more shots and scoring on two of them. Stack had her second goal of the night at 4:13 assisted by Dana Trivigno an Haley Skarupa. She had shot the puck from the side of the net and it deflected in from the strange angle. Faber struck again at 11:21 for the final goal of the game when she found another hole in the defense and yet another one on one vs. McLaughlin which she won again with a slick maneuver.
Faber explained it began with a “turnover in the neutral zone. Didn’t want to do the same move so I tried to be a little bit more patient, and I just got her near post.”
McLaughlin made 36 saves in the loss. Stock made 20 saves on the 21 shots she faced. Despite the six goals McLaughlin had saved her team even further distress with some big saves. Stock, despite facing fewer shots often had to deal with bursts of the trademark Buffalo energetic attack but she thwarted them.
“I like shots. If you can stay engaged, stay in the game,” Stock said. “You kinda gotta go with whatever team’s can give you. That’s why I think goaltending is more mental than physical. McLaughlin is keeping them in it for the first period and mostway through the second there. You’re thinking it’s only two nothing and she’s playing her butt off. So you gotta make sure you keep it together on your end. You won’t want to give an easy one and let them back in. Just mentally being prepared. It’s nice to get a shot. Stay engaged, but you can use power plays, getting out of the net to stop pucks, those kind of things to really just stay in. I thought we really did a good job killing and being in the right place at the right time.”
When asked how this year’s team is coming together compared to last year Faber explained that “it’s hard to compare just because we have a lot of new players. We get along a lot better this year I think as a team. We have fun at practice. We have fun coming to the rink. It’s been a blast. It’s been a good time.”
The Whale rises to 3-4-0 and the Beauts drop to 3-5-1.