PHOTO BY MATTHEW RANEY
The Buffalo Beauts got off to a hot start with three goals in the opening period and that was the difference as they capped off their seventh win in a row by defeating the Connecticut Whale in Stamford by a score of 5-2. The Beauts had five different goal scorers but had four players record multiple points, led by rookie Annika Zalewski’s three-point (1g-2a) night. With the win, Buffalo moved closer to clinching the top seed in the NWHL, a feat that may be in reach by the time they hit the ice in Newark tomorrow afternoon as they close out the season against the Metropolitan Riveters.
Zalewski scored the game’s opening goal just 2:39 into the game when she cut to the slot and fired home her third goal of the season and Buffalo held onto that 1-0 lead until she set up her linemate Taylor Accursi with 1:17 remaining in the first period. What better way to celebrate your 24th birthday than to pop home a goal from the slot? Accursi has been warming up as the season winds down, and this is now her third consecutive game with a goal.
Fifty-eight seconds later (with nine seconds left in the period) Julianna Iafallo netted the eventual game-winning goal when her deflection of a point shot by teammate Savannah Harmon found the back of the net, giving the Beauts an insurmountable three-goal lead.
Connecticut kept things close for the most part in the second period but eventually surrendered the fourth goal to Buffalo when Corinne Buie converted at the tail-end of a 3-on-1 rush into the Whale zone. For Buie, it was only her second goal of the season and her first since the second week of the season on Oct. 13.
Early in the third period Kelly Babstock scored against her former team and the Beauts stretched their lead to 5-0. But during the first of four consecutive Buffalo penalties, the Whale finally got on the board when Shannon Doyle’s point shot made its way through a maze of players and past netminder Nicole Hensley. Doyle’s third goal of the season came just 1:11 after Babstock’s fourth of the season.
With just under ten minutes left in the game, Rachael Ade scored her second goal in three games as she converted a nifty drop pass from Katerina Mrázová who had sped into the Beauts zone. That would be all of the offense that Connecticut was able to muster in the game, but to their credit, they were able to keep the league’s top two scorers - Hayley Scamurra and Maddie Elia - off the scoresheet completely.
Game Notes: Iafallo led all players with seven shots on goal and Doyle led the Whale with five. Shenae Lundberg finished with 25 saves and took the loss in her second start of the season for Connecticut while Hensley finished with 18 saves and improved to 5-1-0 for the Beauts. Zalewski (1g-2a), Accursi (1g-1a), Iafallo (1g-1a), and Emily Pfalzer (2a) all had multiple points for Buffalo, and Mrázová had the primary assist on each of the Whale’s goals.
3 Stars of the Game:
1) Annika Zalewski (Buffalo): goal (3), 2 assists (8)
2) Julianna Iafallo (Buffalo): gw/pp goal (6), assist (7)
3) Shannon Doyle (CT): pp goal (3)