ALL PHOTOS BY MICHELLE JAY
In a battle for sole possession of first place in the NWHL, the Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps put on a show for the sold-out crowd at Warrior Ice Arena, with the Pride coming away with a 5-4 victory.
In the first game since the Pride announced a partnership with the NHL’s Boston Bruins, Warrior was abuzz, as fans received beanies co-branded with the Pride and Bruins logos and Bruins mascot Blades made an appearance. Joakim Nordstrom of the Bruins and ex-Bruin Jay Miller performed the ceremonial puck drop to celebrate the partnership.
And what a game the capacity crowd in Boston got to see. The Whitecaps drew first blood, but after a wild, goal-filled first period, the home team had staked a 5-2 lead. Minnesota nearly completed the rally, scoring once in the second and third and peppering Pride goaltender Katie Burt in the final moments, but Boston held on to move to 8-3 on the season with its third win over the Whitecaps. Jillian Dempsey and Amanda Pelkey each had a goal and an assist for the Pride, while Haley Skarupa had a pair of assists. Amy Menke recorded a goal and an assist for Minnesota, with Kate Schipper adding a pair of helpers.
Kendall Coyne Schofield opened the scoring early, getting the Whitecaps on the board just 3:25 into the first period, streaking down the left wing and putting her shot into the left side of the net.
The Pride were quick to answer, however, knotting the score at one when Kaleigh Fratkin’s shot from the point dribbled in 35 seconds later. Pelkey quickly gained the lead for Boston 2:24 after Fratkin’s goal, working in a shot from in close.
The Whitecaps tied it once again, with Menke circling the zone before putting away her shot in the top left corner 1:41 after Pelkey had given the Pride the lead.
Boston then scored three times in 4:27 in the latter half of the first period. Dempsey regained the lead for the Pride with a shot from the slot through traffic. McKenna Brand put away a rebound on the power play to push the lead to two goals. Denisa Krizova then shoved a puck under Amanda Leveille for the seventh goal of the first.
Amy Schlagel pulled the Whitecaps back within two in the second period, keeping a puck in at the point before firing into the top corner from the faceoff circle at the 13:15 mark.
In a game that at one point seemed as though Boston would run away with it, the margin once again narrowed to one when Jonna Curtis fought off a defender and put away a high shot as she was falling to the ice with 7:34 gone in the third period. The Whitecaps battled hard for the equalizer, holding possession for much of the latter half of the third period and pulling Leveille in favor of an extra attacker. But Burt and the Boston defense denied them to hold on for the win, much to the delight of the Pride faithful at Warrior.
The Whitecaps’ weekend isn’t finished, as the take on the Connecticut Whale on Sunday at 3 PM at Terry Conners Ice Rink in Stamford. The Pride hit the road next weekend for a matchup with the Metropolitan Riveters at 2 PM on Sunday, January 20 at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.