Coming into Monday, NWHL fans expected to see two games. The first would be a battle between the Connecticut Whale and Minnesota Whitecaps to determine second and third place rankings. The second was the final game in the best of three series between the Boston Pride and Buffalo Beauts with the winner heading to the semi-finals against Toronto. The loser of this game would pack their bags and head home. The day turned out much different than expected.
Just minutes before the puck was set to drop on game one, it was announced Connecticut would not be playing. The cause of this was quite unclear at first but many thought it was a safety precaution as they would be playing each other in the semi-finals regardless of the outcomes. The league said an update would be given on Tuesday regarding the situation but at that time, they said nothing else.
A few hours later, just before the start of the next scheduled game, it was announced that the Connecticut Whale had forfeited the game and withdrawn from the season. They would be leaving Lake Placid due to COVID-19 concerns. This decision was made by the team and accepted by the NWHL. This meant the Minnesota Whitecaps would seed at second and the game between Boston and Buffalo would no longer be an elimination game. It would just rank the teams third and fourth. The winner would go on to play the Minnesota Whitecaps and the loser will take on the first seed, Toronto Six.
Boston 7 – Buffalo 1
The game wasn’t the do-or-die they expected but that certainly didn’t stop Boston from leaving it all out there. The teams stuck with their starters and Carly Jackson of Buffalo and Lovisa Selander of Boston took the net for their respective teams.
Boston got off to a great start scoring three goals in the first period. Sammy Davis started things off with the first goal just over halfway through the period. Pride Captain, Jillian Dempsey extended the lead to two while on the powerplay, just over a minute after the opening goal. It was Davis again when the Pride got on the board with 3:41 remaining in the period. The Beauts would need to come out flying in the second period if they wanted any chance at taking down the Pride.
Halfway through the second period, Buffalo started their attempt at a comeback. Kristin Lewicki got the Beauts on the board, making it 3-1. Just when the Beauts thought they were a little closer to a tie game, Boston’s Meghara McManus added another hump for Buffalo to get over. The teams headed into the third period with a score of 4-1 in favour of the Boston Pride.
Boston didn’t hold back come the third period, stealing any hope the Beauts had. Lexie Laing scored shorthanded, early in the period for the Pride, making it 5-1. Mallory Souliotis added a Pride goal on the power play, followed by one from Meaghan Rickard. Boston truly had an offensive explosion, leading them to a 7-1 win. Boston unsurprisingly outshot Buffalo 38-26.
This win puts Boston in third and the Pride will play the Minnesota Whitecaps in the semi-finals. Instead of being eliminated as previously expected, the Buffalo Beauts will head to the semi-finals and take on the Toronto Six.
There will be a few day break of action in Lake Placid before two games on Thursday. Buffalo and Toronto will hit the ice at 5:30, followed by Boston and Minnesota at 8:30. The teams will look to earn themselves a spot in the Isobel Cup final. The remaining games will be aired on NBC in the U.S but don’t worry, the Twitch stream will be up and running for all other viewers. Be sure to come back to Unbenched everyday for a roundup of the previous night’s action.