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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The (Boston) Pride Before the Fall

The Boston Pride fell just a bit short in their Tuesday night goalie showdown against the Toronto Six, falling 2-1. The freshman franchise got their first-ever victory, with a little help from their powerplay unit late in the game. Both netminders Lovisa Selander (BOS) and Elaine Chuli (TOR) were honestly playing on their heads for most of the regulation time with 24 and 36 saves, respectively. The save percentage wasn’t really an issue. Well, technically it was but Selander wasn’t the one taking turns going in and out of the penalty box. Sorry Kaleigh Fratkin, nothing personal.

Final score: Toronto Six defeat the Boston Pride 2-1 in regulation.
Credit: @TheBostonPride

Mikyla Grant-Mentis netted her first goal of the season for Toronto on a ricochet in the third, crashing the net hard in the attacking zone. In the first period, the Toronto attacking zone was anything but that even though they outshot Boston 13-6.

Christina Putigna continues to roll for the Boston Pride, who opened the game with a sure-fire goal. Her second of the season set the tone for Boston in the first frame. Or so we thought. In the long run, it certainly wasn’t enough to keep the energy up past the first period. The Pride was rather discombobulated on the penalty kill. Showing signs of breakout opportunities, the Toronto Six player-advantages caught up to their gameplan in the later periods.

Rook to Line Two

The Boston Pride has a young offensive core and Tuesday’s tilt proved no different. Head coach Paul Mara was really watching Sunday’s 5-1 victory against Buffalo where the third line established themselves. 2 goals for that line, not bad. Rookie winger Taylor Wenczkowski got the nod to move up to the second offensive line against Toronto. In the broadcast on Twitch, Erica Ayla noted that “Paul Mara is not playing his rookies like rookies.” Which is absolutely true. They’re playing hard and earning their spots.

Wenczkowski goes backhandski 😎

Originally tweeted by Boston Pride (@TheBostonPride) on January 25, 2021.

Wenczkowski recorded her first-career goal for Boston on Sunday which turned heads a bit on the coaching staff. Though she was quiet against the Six, and an outlier tripping penalty Wednesday, who knows what can happen against the Riveters on Saturday? Especially with these next few days off to recharge…

Too Many Penalties For the Pride

Twenty-three penalties. That’s way too many to split between two games. In a general sense, the powerplays presented a lot of scoring chances. As a result, a few silly mistakes allowed Toronto and Connecticut to capitalize on the PP unit Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Boston Pride Defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin was more concerned with the physical aspect against the Six, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when you have half of the team’s penalties in one night, some would say it’s counterproductive to getting the upper hand on the scoreboard. She finally learned how to keep her stick close and avoided any tripping calls against the Whale. The Pride rotated in and out of the sin bin, sharing the wealth vs CTW on Wednesday.

Kaleigh Fratkin in the box for tripping

Well, if it’s any consolation, the Six had more time in the box w/ seven penalties. However, it really can’t justify the Pride’s eight shots on goal in the third period. Eight. Something to work on during practice. Minutes on the ice vs. minutes in the box will be Boston – and Fratkin’s – biggest challenge for the remainder of the season.

Plagued With Injury, Not Ideal

Third-period penalty antics created a dangerous attacking zone for the Pride. Toronto captain Shiann Darkangelo called for a trip against Pride captain Jillian Dempsey, resulting in Dempsey tumbling to the ice grabbing her shoulder. Naturally, I really tried to contain myself because she is a cornerstone for the team in every way. Thankfully, she wasn’t ruled out of Wednesday’s game with her shoulder injury, but things were a bit iffy for the first line with all things considered.

Jillian Dempsey assisted off the ice by a trainer

In the post-game PrideDiehards podcast, host Oliver Antone brought up an interesting point.

“If Dempsey is officially out (Wednesday), then [Paul] Mara needs to throw the lineup card in a blender and reassemble the pieces at random.”

Oliver Antone, PrideDiehards

At this point in the season, it really wouldn’t hurt to get experimental in moving the lines around. The Pride currently sits in 4th place at 1-3-0 with 2 points, after a 4-1 loss to Connecticut on Wednesday night. If you’re keeping track, there are only four spots available in the round-robin tournament for the Isobel Cup. And Boston technically doesn’t figure into those plans – yet.

The playoffs also include a primetime slot on the NBCSports Network. That is a national broadcast. Personally, I find that to be a bigger reward than the hardware itself.

Riveting News, To Say the Least

The Metropolitan Riveters created some buzz today, opting out of the remainder of the 2021 season. Most of the speculation points to members of the team/coaching staff leaving Tuesday’s game vs. Minnesota for COVID-19 related issues. Head coach Ivo Mocek left the game halfway through the 2nd period and failed to return to the Metropolitan bench. The Riveters were replaced in Wednesday’s game by the Toronto Six, who came away with the 4-2 victory vs. Connecticut Whale. The NWHL released a statement with the scheduling changes:

“The change has been made in line with the NWHL’s medical protocols prioritizing the health & safety of all participants during this season in Lake Placid.”

NWHL Official Twitter

Saturday’s game will speak volumes for the Boston Pride’s playoff chances next week. It has yet to be announced who the Pride will face this weekend if they even play at all. A win will most likely include them in a conversation for playoff survival, but another loss would close the door on that opportunity.

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