PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY
After a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle, the Boston Pride scored three goals in the final 1:54 of the game to take a 5-2 win over the Metropolitan Riveters. The Pride broke a 2-2 tie and scored two power-play goals 27 seconds apart (one of the 5-on-3 variety) in the game’s final two minutes to escape New Jersey with a 5-2 win, with Kaleigh Fratkin's blast from the point with 1:54 to play serving as the game-winner.
“I think we had a slower start than we wanted in today’s game, so we’re proud that we were able to grind it out,” said Boston captain Jillian Dempsey after the win. “With six minutes left in a tie game, having a power play helped us. But we expect more from ourselves, but it’s good to end with a win like that. We don’t play again until December 30, so we have a nice holiday season and then come back to action.”
In goal, Kimberly Sass and Katie Burt were excellent for the Riveters and Pride respectively, but it was Burt who was able to pick up her sixth win. The rookie goaltender’s six wins are now tied for first in the league with Minnesota’s Amanda Leveille and Boston has now tied the Whitecaps atop the NWHL standings with identical 6-2-0 records.
In the first period, Boston took a 1-0 lead at the tail end of a Riveters power play when defender Mallory Souliotis blocked a shot and then hit Amanda Pelkey with a stretch pass that sent the US Olympian in on a breakaway from center ice. Pelkey skated towards the goal with speed and ripped a shot past Sass that found it’s way through her five-hole.
The Riveters were able to respond just 4:01 later when Amanda Kessel and Madison Packer worked a give-and-go to perfection, culminating with Packer’s fourth goal of the season. The goal was also the Rivs’ first in two weeks after being shutout by the Connecticut Whale last weekend in Pittsburgh.
The second period was all about trading chances as the Pride and Riveters went back and forth while Burt and Sass made save after save after save. Boston was finally able to wrestle the lead back when Fratkin made a nifty pass off the side of the net to Dana Trivigno for an easy goal with Sass looking the opposite way.
The Riveters evened the game again in the third period when the league’s reigning MVP Alexa Gruschow netted her first goal of the season at 6:08, ripping a shorthanded goal through Burt’s five-hole.
“I squeaked one in there somehow,” Gruschow cracked afterward during her postgame presser. “It always feels good to get the first one. It tied the game up. Hopefully, there are more to come, but as a team, we’re just hoping the wins will come.”
The game stayed tied until Gruschow and Packer took penalties 15 seconds apart and Boston made them pay dearly as Fratkin and Souliotis each scored on point shots in a span of 27 seconds that took the air out of the building in Newark.
“A 5-on-3, even a 5-on-4 at the end of the game isn’t what we’re looking to do. You just have to try and battle through it and unfortunately, they had a couple of nice shots from the point,” said Sass.
The Rivs goaltender admitted she was a bit screened on the two game-changing goals. “Yes, they had traffic in front on both of them, but at the same time they were nicely placed shots.”
McKenna Brand scored into an empty net with 31 seconds left for the final goal of the afternoon.
“It’s a big victory for us. It's 2-2 going into the last six minutes and we break it open there with a 5-on-3 goal; that was huge by Fratty,” said Boston head coach Paul Mara. “She played fantastic for us. Big victory for us. We needed that.”
Gruschow said: “We showed improvement as a whole team today and I think that’s going to tell the tale of the rest of our season."
Game Notes: Brand led all players with seven shots on goal, while Kessel, Courtney Burke, and Audra Richards led the Riveters with four apiece. Gruschow’s goal was her first since the Isobel Cup Final when she scored the lone tally. Fratkin, Souliotis, and Haley Skarupa (two assists) led all players in points. Skarupa moved into third in the league in points (10) and is tied for the league lead in assists (7). In addition to Trivigno’s goal, she was also a monster in the face-off circle, winning 16 of 20 draws.
3 Stars of the Game:
1) Kaleigh Fratkin (Boston): PP/GW goal, assist
2) Mallory Souliotis (Boston): PP goal, assist
3) Kimberly Sass (Riveters): 29 saves, 4 GA