The Isobel Cup Champions kicked off the 2016-2017 season the same way they ended last season: with back-to-back wins in one weekend.
On Friday night, the Pride and the Buffalo Beauts opened the season with a rematch of the Isobel Cup Finals. Out of the gate, the two teams were evenly matched, the Beauts showing much of the energy they developed during the playoffs. The Beauts' offense made it difficult for the Pride to clear the puck out of their own zone and tested Brittany Ott with seven shots on goal during the first period while holding the Pride to 11.
But, as we all know, Boston's offense is simply too powerful to be held scoreless for too long. Five minutes into the second period, #1 overall draft pick Alex Carpenter scored her first NWHL goal and the first goal of the season.
After that, the Pride piled on three more goals in the second period, scored by Jillian Dempsey, Rachel Llanes, and Amanda Pelkey (click to watch!). They chased Beauts goalie Brianne McLaughlin from the game, forcing Amanda Leveille to make her NWHL debut at the start of the third period. She held the Pride scoreless in the final frame as the Buffalo penalty kill denied Boston in three power play opportunities.
The Beauts got a goal back in the third period, and what a goal it was. Prior to the game on Friday, Beauts player Harrison Browne came out as the first openly transgender player in American professional sports.
Early in the third period, Shiann Darkangelo was called for interference. Browne quickly got a breakaway opportunity, splitting the Pride defense to go one-on-one with Ott. With a spray of ice from his skates, Browne shot between Ott's pads to find the back of the net.
Hockey is pretty great, isn't it?
Despite the 4-1 loss, the Beauts reminded everyone that they are not to be taken lightly. Two days later, they staged a three-goal third period comeback to topple the Connecticut Whale #FinsDown.
On Saturday night, the New York Riveters opened their season against the Pride in impressive fashion. Although they, too, were dealt a loss, 6-3, at the hands of the Pride, they showed flashes of brilliance.
Boston got on the board early in the first period, as Carpenter scored her second goal of the young season, assisted by Dempsey and Gigi Marvin. Sixty seconds later, Miye D'Oench tied the score at one with her first NWHL goal. The Riveters continued to pressure the Pride offensively, racking up eight shots on goal to the Pride's 10 in the opening period. At times, Ott appeared a bit sluggish as she played her second game in 24 hours.
In a repeat of Friday night's second period, the Pride once again piled on four goals in the middle frame on Saturday evening. Brianna Decker scored her first two of the season, with a goal from Blake Bolden in between. During a 4-on-4 opportunity, the Pride offense outmatched the Riveters three to two and Decker was able to capitalize.
Less than a minute later, the offense drew New York goalie Sojung Shin from her net, giving Bolden a wide-open chance as she received a cross-ice pass from Dempsey.
Decker and Llanes scored within minutes of one another, bringing the score to 5-1, but the Riveters were able to get one back towards the end of the period.
And then another early in the third period, from our very own guest blogger Tatiana Rafter!
However, it was too little too late for New York. Emily Field added goal number six with five minutes to play, which sealed the victory for the Pride.
In total, Boston scored ten goals in the first two games...Without Hilary Knight, who was scratched from both games with an unknown injury. Buffalo and New York both showed high energy and significant improvement from last season, but the thought of this Pride offense becoming even more powerful with the return of Knight should terrify the rest of the league. It's going to be a fun season.
The Pride will host their first home game at the brand-new Warrior Ice Arena in Boston this Saturday at 6:30 pm. The arena only seats around 600, so grab your tickets ASAP if you're planning on being there.