Although they were returning from what felt like the longest hiatus ever, the Boston Pride didn’t miss a beat.
At Northford Ice Pavillion on Sunday afternoon, the Pride (9-0) maintained their perfect record and dealt the Whale (4-7) yet another loss. Boston has now won 24 straight games, a streak that dates back to last season. Even though the team hadn’t been on the ice together since early December, their performance was as high-quality as fans have come to expect.
Connecticut was able to keep pace with Boston throughout the first period and the offense racked up several quality scoring chances. However, their 19 shots on goal didn’t phase Pride goalkeeper Brittany Ott. She turned aside each attempt in the first period, and continued to do so for the full 60 minutes. Jillian Dempsey gave the Pride the lead midway through the first, her second goal of the season. Whale goalie Nicole Stock turned aside Alex Carpenter’s shot, but Dempsey was there to tap in the rebound. Carpenter and Alyssa Gagliardi earned the assists, the first of two they would each provide in the game.
Through the first two periods, the Pride got into penalty trouble and allowed the Whale three power play opportunities. Even with a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted almost a minute, the Whale couldn’t break through the Pride defense. Always staying close to the net, the defense worked hard to protect Ott and kept the Whale’s shots on goal down to single digits in both the second and third periods.
Carpenter doubled the Pride’s lead on a shorthanded opportunity in the second period. Zoe Hickel drew Stock to one side of the net before dishing the puck to Carpenter for the easy goal. Her sixth goal of the season, Carpenter is now tied with teammate Brianna Decker, as well as Kelly Babstock and Corinne Buie, for the league scoring lead.
Late in the third period, Dempsey scored on a rebound once again and Hilary Knight, playing in only her second game of the season, added a power play goal in the final 30 seconds to secure the win. Ott made 37 saves in the shut out, which was her third of the season, as well as the third time the Whale have been held scoreless this season. Ott’s goals against average is .98, which is best in the league by far. The second best? Her teammate Lauren Slebodnick, with an average of 1.50. Abandon all hope ye who hope to score on the Pride, basically.
Next weekend, Boston will travel to New Jersey to face the New York Riveters at the Barnabas Health Hockey House at 6:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on NESN. Coming off a win this weekend as well, the Riveters sit in second place with a record of 4-5. Compared to the Pride’s undefeated streak, this hardly seems impressive, but New York only had four wins during the entire 2015-2016 campaign.
In less than a month, the second annual NWHL All-Star Weekend will take place at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh. The skills showdown will be at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 11, and the game itself is slated to start at 3:00 p.m. the next day. You can grab a weekend pass here if you’re in the area or considering making the trip!