By Nathaniel A. Oliver
The Boston Pride extended their winning streak tonight in the Queen City. On the road in Buffalo, the Pride took a 5-2 victory over the Beauts and extended their record to 16-0-0. Thanks to a two-goal first period, Boston took an early lead and never looked back thanks to some exceptional goaltending from Victora Hanson who earned her fifth win of the season.
“I feel like we’re confident in our team,” said Pride forward Carlee Toews. “We know what we need to do on the ice. We’re a fast team, so we get lots of pucks on net. We get them in deep, trust our linemates, and we usually get a few goals past the goalie.”
The Pride got on the board early when they capitalized on the power play just 2:07 into the game. Lexie Laing chipped the puck through the pads of Beauts goalie Mariah Fujimagari for her 10th goal of the season. The goal was Laing’s 10th of the season and third on the power play.
As the opening period came to a close, Boston defender Lauren Kelly snapped a shot from along the boards on net. The puck knuckled downward and ended up going through the pads of Fujimagari. Boston captain Jillian Dempsey and McKenna Brand each earned assists on the goal for their 27th and 26th points of the season, respectively. The goal was Kelly’s first of the 2019-20 season.
The Beauts narrowed the gap when Erin Gehen converted on a perfectly executed give-and-go with Brooke Stacey at 10:09 of the second. The tally came after Fujimagari made a huge blocker save at the opposite end of the ice. Stacey and Gehen lugged the puck out of the zone, and passed the puck back and forth until Gehen had a wide-open net to bury her fifth of the season.
Shortly thereafter, Boston’s Tori Sullivan answered back. Sullivan made a beautiful deflection off a Mallory Souliotis pass. The puck caromed straight over the shoulder of Fujimagari and into the top corner of the net to make it 3-1 Pride. The Pride extended their lead to 4-1 thanks to an exceptional individual effort from 2020 NWHL All-Star captain Jillian Dempsey, who beat Fujimagari with a backhander on an unassisted goal.
Standout newcomer Marie-Joe Pelletier delivered on the power play, set up by Taylor Accursi, to make it a 4-2 game. But, again, the momentum quickly turned the other way. Toews buried a power-play goal for the Pride just over a minute later to put the game away.
“Coach always tells us to play fast,” said Toews. “We have a lot of speed on this team, so when we’re moving our legs good things come along with it.”
The Beauts and Pride will play their final regular season meeting tomorrow Jan. 5 at 1:00 p.m. on the NWHL on Twitch. Tickets for that game, which will be played at the NorthTown Center are available at beauts.nwhl.zone/tickets. Boston has their sights set on sweeping the season series against the Beauts and improving to a dominant 17-0-0 record.
“I think the biggest thing is that tomorrow is a new day,” said Pride defender Briana Mastel. “Tonight was a great win for us, but we’ve just got to move on and focus on what we do well. Play with speed, and don’t let up. The Beauts are going to come hungry for a win, but we’re hungry for a win as well.”
Photo Credit: Mike Hetzel