By Nathaniel A. Oliver
The Connecticut Whale and Buffalo Beauts squared off for their fifth and final meeting of the 2019-20 regular season tonight. For Connecticut, it was their first of two home games this weekend, while Buffalo played their last contest before going on a three-week break. When the final horn sounded, the Beauts completed their season series sweep with a 6-2 victory.
Much of Buffalo’s victory was fueled by two-goal game from Beauts rookie Erin Gehen.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Gehen. “I’m getting used to my linemates out there. We’ve only played together for a few short weeks. You could just tell the chemistry we’ve put together out there.”
The Beauts jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Gehen notched her third of the season at 4:39 with a hard wrister that beat Whale goalie Sonjia Shelly. Just over four minutes later, Buffalo’s Cassidy MacPherson scored on the power play when she sailed a shot through heavy traffic that beat Shelly.
Despite giving up two early goals, the Whale’s netminder put up a solid performance while facing 33 shots.
The Whale would narrow the margin to 2-1 when Kayla Meneghin jammed home a power play score of her own. Beauts goalie Kelsey Neumann made the initial save, but a determined Meneghin stuffed it home past Neumann’s outstretched glove.
Buffalo would regain their two-goal lead just 1:07 into the second period. Shelly made an initial save on Buffalo’s Taylor Accursi from point-blank range, but the rebound went straight to the stick of Beauts captain Corinne Buie who put it home for her second of the season.
Connecticut wouldn’t go quietly though. The Whale’s Jane Morrisette scored at 3:35 with a highlight reel goal. As the puck popped up into the air front of Neumann, Morrisette batted it home baseball-style for her third of the season.
Gehen would score her second of the game with 3:23 remaining in the second. After hard-fought puck battles around the back of the net by MacPherson and Brooke Stacey, a loose puck found Gehen and she made no mistake.
“I’d say my style is to just work hard, and work for everything that you get out there,” said Gehen. “Make plays and plays will come to you.”
Buffalo’s Neumann made 21 saves while earning her third victory of the season. All three of her wins have come against the Whale.
“It’s a great feeling to know we have closed out the series against Connecticut,” said Neumann “Yes, I get credit for three out of the five wins, but I definitely give credit to the first one to my teammates for coming up big after I got injured. The last two wins have been big for me coming off an injury and getting my first (full game_ NWHL wins under my belt. It definitely helps take a little pressure off when my teammates put up six.”
Kim Brown and Accursi would seal the deal for Buffalo when they each scored in the final seven minutes of regulation. For Accursi, it was her sixth goal in three games.
The Beauts are back in action on December 21 and 22 when they’re in Buffalo to host the Pride. You can get tickets to those games at nwhl.zone/tickets and can watch all Beauts games on twitch.tv/nwhl and twitch.tv.nwhl2.
Photo Credit: Bryan Johnson