PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA
Thirty-seven seconds into overtime Haley Skarupa scored the game-winning goal for the Boston Pride as they escaped Stamford with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale on Sunday afternoon at Terry Conners Rink.
“First game back after the break against a very hard-working, physical team is always a battle,” said Skarupa minutes after the game ended. “We knew we had to come mentally ready and they definitely tested us. We had to work the kinks out and it was a tough game.”
Boston took a 1-0 lead in what was a chippy first period when Toni Ann Miano netted her second of the season. The rookie defender capitalized on a rare turnover by Connecticut’s Shannon Doyle and ripped a shot past Meeri Räisänen at 12:36. Both teams had three power-play chances each and the Whale were unable to break through on a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:13.
The Pride carried their one-goal lead into the second period and early on in the middle period, the Whale had two glorious chances to tie the game. Katie Burt stopped Sarah Hughson on a breakaway nearly a minute after Hanna Beattie’s chance from in close sailed wide of the cage. Both teams continued to make trips to the penalty box and the score stayed 1-0 until Michelle Löwenhielm netted her first NWHL goal with less than five minutes remaining in the period on a pass. On the play, Emily Fluke’s centering attempt was nudged by Doyle over to Löwenhielm who then slipped the puck past Burt.
“I think we set the tone early on and that’s always a goal for us, to be able to play our game and make other teams play to us,” said Connecticut forward Jamie Goldsmith. “Obviously it's not the result we wanted but we still were able to come away with a point, and we have six points in our last five games. We know that we’re not the Whale team anymore that other teams can just come in and beat.”
With the game tied 1-1 both teams traded chances (and penalties) throughout the course of the third period with no goal to be found as Burt and Räisänen were locked in a classic goaltending duel. Once in overtime, it was Skarupa who was able to finally lock up the victory for Boston, assuring them of being tied for first place atop the NWHL standings as we head into 2019.
“It was a beautiful pass by Amanda [Pelkey],” said Skarupa of her winning goal. “She found me in a completely open space and I was just trying to find the open net on their goalie. She had a great game. I knew it had to be a precise shot, but it wouldn’t have happened without Pelkey’s pass.”
The Pride stay on the road next week, heading to Buffalo for a 1:30 PM ET game on Jan. 5 at HarborCenter, while the Whale stay home, hosting the Riveters at 1 PM ET at Terry Conners Rink on Jan. 6. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.