Hilary Knight is back, Brittany Ott had a clean sheet, the Pride defeated the Whale, and all was right with the world...For a few hours, at least.
After a two week break due to the Four Nations Cup, the NWHL returned to action on Saturday as the Pride hosted the Connecticut Whale at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston.
It seemed as if, once again, the Pride were going to run away with the game. Barely five minutes into the game, the Whale's Dana Trivigno was called for hooking, giving the Pride a power play opportunity. Up until Saturday night, the Pride were the worst power play team in the league, scoring only one PP goal through the first four games. That came to an end very quickly, as Blake Bolden fired a shot from the high slot and Meghan Duggan tipped it in just 24 seconds into the power play.
The Whale were dangerous throughout the first period, forcing the Pride to turn the puck over several time and racking up extended minutes in front of Ott's net. Haley Skarupa and Kelli Stack repeatedly tested Ott, combing for 11 shots on goal. The Pride had an uncharacteristically quiet second period, while the Whale looked poised to score. For the first time this season, Boston's offense was held scoreless in the middle frame. Through the first four games of the season, the Pride amassed a total of 12 goals in the second period. Connecticut showed their speed, engaging Boston in 20 minutes of breakneck, end-to-end hockey. They outshot the Pride 12-7, but could not get on the score sheet.
Boston finally got some breathing room early in the third period. Just like the first goal, the Pride had a man advantage, a defender shot from outside and a forward tipped it in. This time, it was Kacey Bellamy with a slapshot from the blue line and Jordan Smelker tipping it past Connecticut goalie Nicole Stock to make it 2-0. Not long after, Knight scored her first goal of the season for the Pride on a cross-ice pass from Smelker to make it 3-0, effectively putting the game out of reach for the Whale.
It certainly wasn't for lack of effort, though - Connecticut made the Pride look incredibly disorganized at times, forcing not only the aforementioned turnovers but several offsides as well. The Pride seem to have figured out their power play issues, but they must continue to capitalize on those opportunities going forward. Although they're now 5-0, the Pride are not without flaws. With Knight back from injury, she reunites with her linemates Brianna Decker and Smelker, which will likely give Boston some extra firepower.
Next weekend, The Pack will travel to Buffalo to face the Beauts at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, their second meeting of the season. Following the Thanksgiving break, the Pride will once again host the Whale at Warrior Ice Arena on Saturday, December 3rd. Grab your tickets here, they're sure to go fast.
As if being undefeated wasn't enough of a gift, the Pride also blessed us with their own version of the Mannequin Challenge: