Emily Field is tied for the team points lead with two goals and two assists. (PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY)
When the Boston Pride return to action this week, it will be the final two games of a five-game homestand to open the season as the Pride host the Buffalo Beauts at Warrior Ice Arena. The teams will square off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the rematch set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
The Boston Red Sox World Series trophy will be at Saturday night’s game, with Raquel Ferreira, the Senior Vice President of Major and Minor League Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff. Single-game and prorated Pride season tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.
“It’s an interesting mental challenge to have a break this early in the season,” said Pride forward Emily Field of going three weeks without a league game.
Both Boston (2-1) and Buffalo (2-2) have had a few weeks to shake off some close losses. In the Pride’s last time out, Boston fell to the Riveters, 3-2, on a goal with three seconds left in regulation. Meanwhile, the Beauts dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to the league-leading Minnesota Whitecaps.
“We have been an extremely strong team, but they have too,” said Pride rookie defender Lauren Kelly of the Beauts. “We’ll push each other to play our best hockey this weekend.”
Kelly and Field have been key pieces behind Boston’s success thus far. Kelly has gotten off to a strong start in her first professional campaign with a goal and two assists from the blue line, while Field has two goals and two helpers to tie Haley Skarupa for the team points lead.
Lauren Kelly has a goal and two assists for the Pride in her rookie season.
“It’s definitely been a quick start,” said Field of her performance. “I like that the team is energized. It’s a new group with new players and a new coach. It brings a different light to things, and it’s great to be excited and still like going to hockey.”
For Kelly, the guidance of experienced teammates such as Field and Kelly’s defensive partner Lexi Bender has helped ease the transition to the professional game. “I have to give a lot of credit to the D corps,” said Kelly. “They’ve made it super comfortable and easy to transition from college to professional. It’s a lot faster, so it’s great to have someone to rely on.”
Defensively, the Pride have been strong, allowing just five goals in their first three games.
“It really came naturally right from the first practice,” said Kelly of the chemistry among the defenders and with starting goaltender Katie Burt. “Everyone got along right away, and we all have the same goal to aim for the Isobel Cup.”
Boston will look to continue its defensive dominance against an offensively potent Beauts team in a series that presents a number of challenges for both teams. Neither side has played a league game in three weeks. And it will be the Pride’s first weekend with back-to-back games this season.
“We’ve worked hard to maintain momentum in practice during the break,” said Field. “Our practices have been high-intensity with a lot of skating.”
And both Field and Kelly mentioned the importance of taking care of the mind and body off the ice during the break, as well as during a weekend series. But Kelly herself isn’t too far removed from the days of playing two games in a weekend in college.
“I kind of miss it to be honest,” she laughed.
The Pride have also been in a unique situation, starting the season with five straight games at home.
“Having the home games have definitely helped calm the nerves,” said Kelly. “Speaking for myself as a rookie, having the home ice and having the fans cheer for you has really eased me into it.”