By David F. Pendrys
STAMFORD, CT – The Connecticut Whale picked up their second win of the season defeating The Boston Pride in the dramatic circus that is a shootout Sunday afternoon at Terry Conners rink.
“It was a tough fight. They’re a very good hockey team over there, and they’re better than what their record shows, so we knew they were hungry and they weren’t going to give up…” Whale Coach Ryan Equale said. “…and once again we put ourselves in some tough spots by taking so many penalties so for us it was just a matter of trying to find a way to play five on five hockey and we felt if we do that we have a chance to get back in it.”
Alyssa Gagliardi started the scoring for Boston taking advantage of one the Pride’s many power plays to slap a shot from far out behind the Whale’s Sydney Rossman at 9:08. She was assisted by Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno. The shot seemed to catch Rossman by surprise in where it ended up and that is a hard feat to accomplish.
More than 20 minutes of hockey would pass before the Whale got on the scoreboard. Amanda Boulier teed up a shot from near the blue line and Emily Fluke deflected it by Brittany Ott to tie things up. Kelly Babstock also added an assist.
The even game entered the third period where Boston had a breakthrough. Skarupa got herself space to shoot at close range past Rossman at 6:15 with assists from Jordan Smelker and Corey Stearns. Stearns had flung a shot on net first, and the rebound was sent by Smelker to Skarupa’s waiting stick.
3 minutes later the Pride struck again bringing on memories of their past glory. Emily Field scored on the doorstep pushing it past the keeper. Assists were given to Trivigno and Kaliya Johnson. It had been Johnson who disrupted a Whale zone entry and started the puck back the other way that set everything in motion.
With things looking bleak late (and with the author out of position to photograph it), Kelly Babstock found herself with a shot lined up in front of Ott and she smashed it over the keeper’s shoulder to put the Whale within one and get her first of the year. She was assisted by Sam Faber and Amanda Boulier.
“It was great, it was a very important goal. It was a team effort. It’s more of a great combined effort,” Babstock said.
Not long after Connecticut continued to swarm and Faber also got a great look and she sent it in to tie the game. Fluke and Babstock picked up the helper’s on the game tying goal.
“We were just working every shift, shift in and out, that’s what you gotta do, and that’s what our team did, and that’s why we became very successful and tied the game up,” Babstock said of how the team approached the third.
The two teams went at it in overtime but settled nothing thus creating the need for the shootout. Ott and Rossman readied themselves and the shooters were prepared. Faber was first, but Ott stopped her. Trivigno skated up for the Pride but Rossman made the save. Babstock was next and she beat Ott to take the advantage.
Skarupa was next, and Rossman stopped her as well. Ott was able to make the save on Jamie Goldsmith to put the game in the hands of the next shot. Janine Weber went up against Rossman, but the save was made handing the Whale the win.
““It was fun. Obviously at this point we had already made a huge comeback and we wanted to win, but I think anything at that point was good…It’s fun being in the net on those and having shooters come down on you. It’s scary…but my teammates did a good job at putting one in, and it kinda took the pressure off,” Rossman said.
Rossman had made 30 saves on the day and Ott had made 23.
“Sydney stopping the goals. She really sees the ice well, she sees the shots well,” Equale said when speaking of some of the standouts on the team.
The goaltenders had to deal with a lot of high quality scoring chances generated by both teams. Skarupa had 9 shots to lead the Pride, Trivigno had 6, Heather Schwarz and Emily Field had 4 each, and the rest were spread around Gagliardi, Lexi Bender, Mary Parker, Weber, Paige Harrington, and Meagan Mangene given Boston’s diverse attack.
“Now that we’ve seen all the teams, it’s kinda the same old every day. We just go in wanting to win. We keep an eye out obviously for key players here and there, but at the end of the day, my job is just to stop the puck and give my team the chance to win so I’m going to go in with the same attitude,” Rossman explained.
Ott is Ott. She fended off a lot of credible Whale attacks ably throughout the day including so many on her doorstep from the likes of Babstock, Faber, and Baribeau among others. Giving up the shootout winner is obviously a black mark on the day, but she was the goalie we’re used to seeing.
Fluke led Whale shots with 5, Babstock had 4, Sam Faber and Juana Baribeau each had 3 apiece, Roesler had 2, and Paige Savage is listed as having 2 (but I don’t recall seeing her on the ice so I need to double check this one.) 7 other Whale players had at least one shot. It should also be noted the main Whale attackers had several breaks in on net that did not generate a shot.
Defensively the Whale blocked 15 shots, and the Pride blocked 6. Boulier had six blocks herself, as Cydney Roesler had 4, Elena Orlando 3, and Shannon Doyle and Emily Fluke had 1 apiece. The Pride’s blocks came from 2 from Gagliardi and one each from Stearns, Skarupa, Harrington, and Mangene.
“All of our D. I mean they did a really nice job,” Equale said. “I don’t know how many blocked shots we finished with, but it was definitely into the double digits. I mean they are sacrificing every part of their body to make sure Sydney faces as few shots as possible.”
Amanda Boulier sized up the defensive task in the post game presser.
“They’ve got some really skilled forwards,” She said. “They obviously have someone like Dana Trivigno, Haley Skarupa, are all really great players. They’re certainly a handful to handle back on the defensive end. I think just playing smart, taking the body, not getting caught puck watching, being real aware of your surroundings is going to be key and I think our team did a really great job of that today,” Boulier said.
Boulier who was also often carrying the puck into the offensive zone in addition to her Assists and blocks, like other collegiate coaches is only available to the Whale when her coaching duties allow it, so she was able to be in the lineup for this game.
“It feels awesome, that was a real great team effort,” Boulier said of being in tonight. “We were down 3-1 with ten minutes to go. There was not a person on the bench who felt we were out of that game the entire time, and I think it was a really gutsy team effort and I was proud to be a part of it.”
“She’s a tremendous player,” Equale said. “I think we probably get more from Boo with her leadership qualities and that’s saying a lot, because her on ice abilities are off the charts. She’s just a very dynamic player we put her up on the power play, we can put her up in key situations when we’re trying to score goals and then defensively we have the utmost confidence in her. So if we could play all Sunday games and have Boo with us, we’d redo the schedule.”
“A big part of my DNA is making sure we’re having a good time and supporting each other, and we have a really great group this year that’s able to embrace that,” Boulier said.
Despite the win the Whale faced struggles when it came to special teams, namely taking penalties putting them on the penalty kill often, and an anemic power play. “You just can’t be successful being in the box for half the game. It just doesn’t work,” Equale said and also offered his thoughts on the power play issue. “It’s surprising to us, because we did spend a lot of time on it this week and we had a good week of practice with it. So it’s just a matter of continuing to work on, continuing to get the team comfortable with their options that are out there, but the frustration on the power play, I think resonated from coaches to players to fans in the stands.”
Overall Equale said there was work to do.
“We’re making the games harder on ourselves than they really need to be, whether it be not finishing great scoring chances, or giving their team unlimited power plays throughout the game. We just have to find a way to make the game a little bit easier for ourselves.”
Larger versions somewhat available at the Facebook Page gallery.
(This is a not exhaustive very imperfect list of noticed plays that might not make the score sheet. It is very possible a player has far more of any sort of play than are noticed in the heat of action. It is what it is. Read these more as a player had “at least” what is noted here. Note the language is a bit stilted, I’m trying to figure out how to make the information flow better.)
Had a steal in the neutral zone, and a steal in the offensive zone to lead to a scoring chance. Also got it in the offensive zone and sent it to Orlando for a scoring chance. During a PK she moved the puck into the Pride zone to waste time multiple times. She also had multiple clears during the PK. She also had several zone exits at even strength including getting it up to Babstock for a scoring try. She also kept the puck within the Boston end for another scoring chance. She and Boulier teamed up to disrupt a Pride attack.
In addition to corralling the puck in the Whale end and moving it out she also skated it in for a team scoring chance. At another point she kept the puck from escaping so the offense could continue attacking and had at least two clears on the penalty kill.
One of her blocks came on the penalty kill. She also kept the puck from exiting the Pride zone prolonging the offense and had a scoring opportunity at another point. She also had a clear on the penalty kill. She also acquired the puck in the offensive zone at another instance. After grabbing the puck in the Whale zone moved it all the way down.
Skated in for a scoring chance. Also grabbed the puck in the defensive end moved it away leading to a Baribeau scoring chance.
Considering not ever defensive play is noticed, she was still noticed getting to the puck in the Connecticut D-zone and moving it out at least five times either thought steals or collection. She also brought it out on the penalty kill and had a clear as well. She also had scoring chances on the power play and also helped set up another offensive try with the skater advantage. She also blocked a shot from Stearns. At another point she disrupted a Boston zone entry.
Continued to be a major threat for the Whale with a large number of zone entries. She also stole the puck from a Pride member leading to as scoring chance. Defensively she intercepted a pass during the penalty kill to stop the Boston setup and she had a clear on the PK as well.
Was more active on defense than these notes indicate.
As usual was involved in zone entries and scoring chances in addition to her goals and assists.
Had numerous zone entries whether it be on the power play or even strength. She also kept the puck within the Pride zone several times including once where Goldsmith then got a scoring try. She also fed it to Goldsmith for another break in on net. She had at least two clears on the penalty kill. She and Emily Fluke disrupted a Pride scoring try. She also stole the puck from Boston in their zone to produce a chance.
On her birthday she kept the puck within the Pride zone. She had several zone entries including after stealing the puck in the neutral zone, and at another point she fought it across the blue line and then got it to Savage for a scoring attempt. She also battled to move the puck out of the Connecticut end at another point.
Had a clear on the penalty kill, and at numerous instances moved the puck out at even strength including winning a joust at the blue line. Also started offensive attempts with acquisitions in the Pride end or zone entries. She also kept the puck from getting out of the Boston zone during the offense.
She disrupted multiple Pride attempts to move in. At least twice she swiped the puck out of the Whale goal mouth preventing a dangerous result. She also alternatively had several scoring chances. Along with Goldsmith she had a clear on the penalty kill. She also had multiple zone exits.
Fought it out of the zone at one point, had a scoring chance, and have several other zone exits. Also flummoxed a Pride zone entry. Had a scoring chance on the power play too.
She had A LOT of zone entries, and often had brought it all the way from her zone. She also disrupted a Pride pass and that gave her a break opportunity. She also messed with a Pride pass in the neutral zone and at another point snagged a Boston pass in the CT end and started it out. Very noticeably got in right on Ott despite Mangene, Harrington, and Trivigno rushing to try to stop her. It was her zone entry that eventually set up Faber to score.
She blocked a Harrington shot. Also carried the puck from the Whale zone to the Pride zone during a PK. She had a zone entry for a scoring chance as well.
The Boston Pride
Stole it from Babstock, got the puck out of the goal mouth, disrupted a Baribeau scoring try and cleared the puck from the zone. She also kept the puck in the Whale zone during the attack, disrupted another Whale zone entry and following a blocked shot gained possession and exited her zone. Had another puck acquisition in the Boston zone and skated it out.
Was noticed fighting the disc out of the Boston end, having a scoring chance on the power play, and grabbing the puck and moving it out of the Pride zone at another point.
Was responsible for keeping the puck from crossing the blue line and prolonging the Pride attack several times. She also skated it into the offensive end to start the attack. Additionally she had a scoring chance on the power play, and at another instance used some stickhandling skill to set up a scoring chance. She also whacked the puck out of the goal mouth later in the game.
In addition to numerous even strength scoring attempts where she was responsible for the zone entry, she also had a chance on the power play. She grabbed the puck in the Whale end and fed it to Mangene for an opportunity as well. She also fed it to Dempsey for a try on net as well. She came up with the puck in the Boston end and moved it out too.
Kept the puck within the Whale zone many times to extend the Boston offensive attempts. She also had a scoring chance on the power play in addition to her goal. During the penalty kill she was very active, skating the puck out several times, clearing it at least once and also bringing it into the Whale zone and wasting time. At even strength she came upon the puck numerous times in the Pride zone and moved it out of danger. She also ended a long Connecticut attack possession by blocking a pass.
She had at least five scoring chances just on the power play on the day. She also had a ton of even strength zone entries, a few of which began in the Pride end. She also kept the puck within the blue line during the power play, and she had at least one clear on the penalty kill. Later in the game she fought the disc out of the defensive end.
Had several zone entries during power plays causing scoring chances for herself or teammates. She also stole the puck from a Whale member during a penalty kill. Multiple times at even strength she collected the puck in the Connecticut zone leading to opportunities.
She was also prolific in the zone entry department in the afternoon, often skating the puck all the way from the Boston end. This included when she stopped a Whale zone entry and took it back the other way.
Had several scoring chances and zone entries. She was also clearly involved in the defensive efforts, I just didn’t get specific notes.
Had several clears on the penalty kill, also at even strength kept the puck within the offensive zone for more attack possibilities. She had numerous zone exits from the Pride defensive zone. Several of these efforts generated scoring opportunities.
Was often coming up with the puck on the defensive side and moving it out, whether easily or having to fight the Whale across the blue line. Also corralled the puck to keep it from escaping the Connecticut zone leading to more scoring chances. At one point she raced to catch up with a breaking Kelly Babstock and disrupted her attempt to set up on Ott. She also got to a puck during a penalty kill and cleared it from the neutral zone.
Had numerous zone entries at even strength for scoring chances including after intercepting a Whale pass. She also stole the puck in the Pride end and cleared it on the penalty kill.
She also picked up a wide variety of zone entries, several leading to scoring opportunities. This included a few on the power play, and even time in the zone on a penalty kill. She also had at least one clear on the PK.
Stearns had multiple steals in the defensive zone, she also was responsible zone exits. Also had a few scoring chances on the power play.