The Buffalo Beauts and Boston Pride squared off in a pivotal matchup amidst a loud buzz from the women’s hockey world.
The announcement of the members of Team USA’s exhibition roster came just hours before women’s hockey stars burned brightly in the NHL All-Star skills competition and one day before nine of those future teammates would take contentious ice Buffalo’s beautiful barn. These momentous occasions set the tone for the importance of the game, in which the winner would own sole possession of second place in the standings.
The game was intensely physical, with teams combining for 12 penalties, including two roughing calls (one by a goaltender), an elbowing call, a body-checking call, and two infractions for contact with the goalie.
The Beauts opened the scoring at 10:16, just as a relatively weak power play expired. Annika Zalewski tucked the puck five-hole on goaltender Katie Burt, after receiving a backhand pass from Taylor Accursi. It was Zalewski’s second of the season, and Accursi’s first assist of the year.
Buffalo’s second goal of the afternoon came when Dani Cameranesi split the Pride defense with a direct path to goaltender Katie Burt. Burt was up to the initial save, but had come out atop her crease to defend the play, allowing Maddie Elia to pick up the rebound and fire it over the right leg of the goaltender. A minute and a half later, Cameranesi scored her fourth goal of the season, charging the zone flanked by Kelly Babstock. “To tell the truth, I was thinking pass,” Cameranesi told the press after the game. Instead, she neatly potted the puck top shelf, out of the reach of Burt.
Just over a minute later, Pride captain Jillian Dempsey caught the Beauts in a change and sent a pass from McKenna Brand into the back of the net.
The Beauts entered the game 7-0 when the team is leading after two. In all, the Pride had managed only four shots in the second period. The situation seemed dire for Boston as the third period began.
The Pride came out blazing, and caught the Beauts flat-footed. A curious mix of in-your-face pressure and desperation stretch passes seemed to get Buffalo chasing, but the team recollected and continued to stifle the Pride’s pressure. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Maddie Elia scored her league-leading eleventh of the year, completing the scoring and the 4-1 win to secure second place in the league standings.
The meat of the season has come to an end. The team has completed their four game series’ with both the Pride and the Minnesota Whitecaps, and while their result against the league’s newest club was less-than-desirable, it appears the team has learned a lot from those losses. Nothing less than winning out will do for the club, who needs all eight remaining points to guarantee a home playoff game. It will be difficult to overtake Minnesota, but not impossible. Buffalo has done it before; naysayers beware.
Final: Beauts 4, Pride 1
Shots on goal Beauts 47 | Pride 21
Beauts Goals: Annika Zalewski (1), Maddie Elia (2), Dani Cameranesi (1)
Pride Goals: Jillian Dempsey (1)
Three stars of the game
- Dani Cameranesi (1G, 2A)
- Maddie Elia (2G)
- Annika Zalewski (1G)