PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY
Saturday’s matchup between the Boston Pride and the Minnesota Whitecaps is a big one. It’s the Pride’s first home game since announcing their partnership with NHL’s Boston Bruins. And beyond that, the winner will take over sole possession of first place in the standings as heading into the back half of the season.
The Pride and Whitecaps come into the contest -- a 7:30 PM ET tilt at Warrior Ice Arena -- with matching 7-3 records, with Boston currently sitting in first based on head-to-head competition. As a celebration of the Pride’s partnership with the Bruins, the first 500 fans will receive knit hats co-branded with the Bruins and Pride logos. The Bruins mascot, Blades, will also be in attendance. Tickets for Saturday’s battle are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.
The Pride were the first team to beat Minnesota since the Whitecaps joined the NWHL. And Boston did so in decisive fashion, taking 5-1 and 7-2 wins in Minnesota on Dec. 1 and 2. Pride defender Mallory Souliotis, in her first full season in the NWHL, had a notable weekend in Minnesota, scoring in each of Boston’s wins, including her first career goal.
“The only difference for me that weekend was that my parents weren’t there,” Souliotis laughed. “We have a joke that they’re not going to come to my games anymore because I only score when they’re not there. But I think it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I remember on one of my goals [Amanda] Pelkey made a great play, and [Haley] Skarupa took both defensemen out of the play.”
The Pride recognize the implications of Saturday’s game, and the fact that the Whitecaps will be coming into Warrior Arena seeking vengeance.
“We’re ready for that,” said Souliotis. “We know it’s going to be a tough game and will come down to who comes out fast. They’re a very strong team. Our forwards did a great job of forechecking against them, so if we can get clicking and moving like that again, it should be a really great game.”
After an impressive career at Yale, Souliotis joined the Pride for a pair of game last season before signing in Boston this offseason. In addition to being part of one of the league’s toughest defensive corps, she has three goals and an assist on the season. She posted all four points in a three-game span, finishing with a goal and an assist against the Metropolitan Riveters on Dec. 9.
“I think I’ve done a pretty good job adjusting to the professional game,” she said. “It’s a much faster game than college, and a lot of the women are much stronger, so it took a little bit. But it helps having a motivated and hard-working team in practice.”
Soulotis and the Pride’s defensive corps, along with starting goaltender Katie Burt, rank second in goals allowed this season. “[The defense] is a pretty tight-knit little group,” said Souliotis. “We’ve switched D partners a couple times, mostly just to make sure we’re all comfortable playing with each other. We have a lot of fun and push each other in the best way.”
The only team that’s allowed fewer goals than the Pride? The Buffalo Beauts, who served Boston a 5-0 defeat last weekend at HarborCenter.
“We can take a lot of lessons learned from that game,” said Souliotis. “It was a good wake-up call for us. The wins aren’t just going to come easily. We have to work for all 60 minutes. We know all the teams in the league will be competitive. There’s a lot of parity in the league this year, so it’s a lot of fun going into every game knowing any team could win.”
PHOTO BY TROY PARLA
Regardless of the outcome on the ice on Saturday, Souliotis knows that this week will go down as a win for the Boston Pride. “I’m wicked excited for our partnership with the Bruins!” she said. “It’s really awesome to see support coming from the NHL. Growing up outside of Boston, the Bruins were my team from Day 1, so I’m proud to be a Bostonian, and I’m even more proud of all the hard work the team and league has put in to make this happen. As a team, we can’t thank the Bruins enough for their support as we continue to grow women’s hockey in Boston!”