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Women’s hockey weekend recap: Blades, Pride off to opposite starts

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The Pride remain undefeated, and the Blades remain winless.

2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Women’s Hockey Classic Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Boston Pride

The Boston Pride are undefeated after their second straight win of the season, this time against the Connecticut Whale. These two teams have quite a rivalry, and the games between them have been close over the last season. Saturday night was no exception.

It took only 35 seconds for Emily Field to get the Pride on the board.

The teams traded penalties in the first, but the first period ended 1-0. As the game went on it grew more physical, as games between Boston and Connecticut often do. Part of this is a regional rivalry, but the teams’ similar styles of fast, aggressive play and a large contingency of Connecticut fans at the Pride rink contribute to the atmosphere each time. Saturday night was no exception. The Whale took another penalty in the second period, and the Pride’s Lauren Kelly, a rookie out of Northeastern, capitalized to put the home team up 2-0.

The Pride took two penalties back-to-back later in the second period, and Czech national team forward Katerina Mrazova (a member of the CWHL’s Blades in 2012-2013) scored her first NWHL goal to put the Whale on the board. With less than five minutes left in the second, the Whale’s captain, Emily Fluke, tied the game at 2 apiece.

The Pride took 2 more penalties in the third period, but rookie goaltender Katie Burt and the Pride penalty kill stood strong. McKenna Brand scored on a rebound to put the Pride up 3-2, and Gigi Marvin potted an empty netter to seal the win. The Northeastern-produced rookies led the charge, as Brand and Kelly were named the first and second stars of the game, respectively.

The Pride look to make it three in a row next Saturday at Warrior Ice Arena, facing the 0-4 Riveters.


Worcester Blades

The Blades played their first games in their new home, the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. They were 0-2 going into the weekend after a pair of losses to the defending Clarkson Cup champion Markham Thunder last weekend, during which they scored only one goal. This weekend their opponents were the Toronto Furies, who are the only team last year’s Blades were able to beat.

Saturday

With rookie Mariah Fujimagari in net, the Blades were able to keep the score close through two periods, only letting up one goal to Natalie Spooner. Fujimagari made the initial save, but Spooner, who represented Team Canada in Pyeongchang this February, pounced on the rebound to put the Furies up 1-0.

The Blades started the third period hungry and had several great offensive chances early on. Their determination paid off when Casey Sathopolous tied the game at 1. Last year, Sathopolous played 27 games for the Blades and tallied 3 assists, for a total of 3 points. She has almost matched that output with 2 goals in only 4 games so far this season.

A tough turnover led to a breakaway for Natalie Spooner with about seven minutes left in the third period. Spooner converted to put the Furies up 2-1, which would ultimately be the final score. Despite the loss, it was a strong showing for a Worcester team looking to show that their rebuild is working. Fujimagari was a bright spot, making 42 saves on 44 shots for a .954 SV% to earn recognition as second star of the game.

Sunday

For the second game of the weekend the Blades started Jessica Convery between the pipes. Toronto got on the board early, as Shiann Darkangelo scored less than two minutes into the game. Convery kept the team in it through a tough period marked by the Blades’ struggle to exit their own zone. The team was unable to convert on their first powerplay, after which Darkangelo was able to score again with about six minutes left in the first, bringing the score to 2-0.

Lauren Dahm started the second period, making her franchise-record-setting 52nd appearance for the Blades. The Blades got their second powerplay of the night but were once again unable to score. At the 14 minute mark of the second period, the Blades’ Kristina Brown took a bodychecking penalty and received both a 2-minute minor and a 10-minute game misconduct. Dahm stood strong during the ensuing penalty kill to keep the Furies lead at 2.

The Blades started the third period on their third powerplay of the night, but could not solve Furies netminder Amanda Makela. Despite killing off a penalty of their own and getting several good looks on net in the third, the team took another loss to fall to 0-4 on the season.

Dahm was recognized as the third star of the game, having stopped all 16 shots she faced. The Blades outshot the Furies 33-27, proving that they were spending plenty of time in the offensive zone.

They’ll look to finish more of those chances next week when they face the 3-1 Calgary Inferno for a two-game homestand in Worcester.