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Boston Blades obliterate Brampton Thunder, starting 2015 with a bang

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Brianna Decker joins the Blades, pitching in five goals over the weekend and helping Boston take down the Thunder by a combined score of 19 to 3.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

RECAP: Blades 11 Thunder 3

After two exhibition games at Providence College and the University of New Hampshire in the beginning of January, the Blades returned to regular season action with a weekend series on the road against the Brampton Thunder at Century Gardens.

Saturday evening's game was the debut of the previously-inactive Brianna Decker, who was finishing up her last semester at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  She made an immediate impact on her new team, who selected her in the third round of the 2014 CWHL draft.

The teams split the first period, with the Blades scoring the first two goals (from Smelker and then Pickett) and the Thunder tying the game before the end of the period on tallies from Candice Styles and Jess Jones.

The Thunder took the lead just two minutes into the second period, but it would be their last lead of the evening, as just over a minute later Brianna Decker scored her first goal of the season on a feed from Hilary Knight.  She would also assist a few minutes later on a power play goal by Tara Watchorn, and then the wheels really came off for the Thunder as they allowed three more goals in the last half of the period, from Buie, Pickett (again assisted by Decker), and Decker herself on the power play.  The score was 7-3 Boston after two.

The third period was a four-goal performance for the Blades, as they slowed down just a little.  Knight added a goal at 9:34, but three more goals in the last two minutes of the period added insult to injury for the Thunder, as Decker recorded a hat trick and Ketchum and Weber scored as well.  The final score would be 11-3 Blades and Decker would finish with 7 points.  Erica Howe, who was pulled after the Blades' fourth goal in favor of Liz Knox, would retain the loss on the record, making 13 saves on 17 shots.

RECAP: Blades 8 Thunder 0

Sunday's rematch didn't start well for the Thunder, but Brianna Decker picked up where she left off by scoring less than a minute into the game after a turnover put her and Hilary Knight on a 2 on 1.  Knight's shot was saved by the Thunder's third string goalie Sonja Van Der Bliek, but Decker picked up the rebound and buried it.

Brampton's league second-best penalty kill was strong when Courtney Birchard went off for taking down Janine Weber.  They had a surge after their kill, with Jamie Lee Rattray shooting hard off of Brittany Ott's shoulder, and Leah Whittaker almost put home the rebound.

However, the first period ended as it began: with a goal from Brianna Decker.  With just five seconds left in the period, she picked up the puck and got a burst of speed down the left wing, rocketing a buzzer-beater past Van Der Bliek to put the score at 2-0.

The Blades started the second period strong and kept the puck in Brampton's zone for long stretches.  Rattray had a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half, but shot it high and wide towards Ott.  A couple shifts later, Denna Laing made it 3-0 on her first career goal as she parked next to the net and waited for the puck to come to her, flipping a rebound past Van Der Bliek.

Tara Watchorn went off for boarding shortly thereafter and the Thunder held the zone for a good portion of their PP, but Watchorn got a breakaway out of the box after the Thunder failed to score on their advantage.  Watchorn took the puck in on Van Der Bliek, who made the initial save, but Jillian Dempsey was trailing and she knocked the rebound past her extended goal stick, making it 4-0.

The Thunder tightened up considerably after the Dempsey goal, killing two more penalties to hang on to the possibility of coming back in the third.

Those hopes were put to rest just two minutes into the final period, however, when Monique Lamoureux shot a slapper from the right point that found its way through a multiple-player screen and past Van Der Bliek (the goal was later credited to Blake Bolden).  Hilary Knight's line started in the defensive zone a couple of shifts later and they stormed to the Brampton end to converge on the net.  Knight scored on the third rebound to make it 6-0, and Van Der Bliek was replaced by Erica Howe.

After Ott made only her 12th save of the game, Bolden entered the zone and held the puck for a quick wrister past Howe, making it 7-0.

Brampton was about to get a penalty when Monique Lamoureux dropped the gloves and instigated a fight with Jamie Lee Rattray following an elbow to Lamoureux's shoulder by Rattray.  Rattray dropped her gloves as well and protected herself in the skirmish.  Each player was given a 5 minute penalty for fighting.  The CWHL doesn't have league rules listed on their website, but the commentators (Asher Roth and Allyson Fox) seemed to think a suspension could be possible for the fight.  Fox, a former defensewoman for the Thunder, stated that it may be up to six games.

With five minutes to go, the Blades got a power play and put their top unit including Decker on the ice, but the Thunder killed it.  Howe made another series of saves, including another attempt by Decker for the hat trick with two minutes to play. Thunder captain Jocelyne Larocque delivered a big hit on Duggan behind the Blades' net, trying to send a message, but the Blades stormed back and got set up in the offensive zone.  Tara Watchorn blasted one from the point which was deflected past Howe, making the final score 8-0 at 18:52 of the third.

The Blades improve to 8-5-1 with 10 games remaining on the season.  They host the Montreal Stars on Saturday, January 24th at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT.