Buffalo Beauts 4, Minnesota Whitecaps 2
For the first time in over a year, the Buffalo Beauts emerged victorious on the road, topping the Whitecaps in Saturday's weekend opener. The game also marked just the third win of the season for Buffalo, who – despite going on to sweep the weekend – face a steep uphill climb in the Isobel Cup playoff race. Nonetheless, the Beauts are certainly glad to be back on the winning side of things and snapped a three-game losing skid.
The Beauts were quick on the jump Saturday, with Mikyla Grant-Mentis opening the scoring just 46 seconds in. After a bit of back-and-forth action, Courtney Maud slid a pass up to a waiting Grant-Mentis behind the play. She and Summer-Rae Dobson then capitalized on a 2-on-1 as they skated down the ice, passing the puck back & forth before Grant-Mentis executed a shot that beat Jenna Brenneman on the blocker side.
Despite Buffalo taking an early lead, neither team really seemed to control the game in the following minutes. The Whitecaps had their best chance about seven minutes in, after a shot bounced off the boards, then came out in front to #10 at the slot, but Lovisa Berndtsson was able to make the save.
The game started to open up a bit, with Minnesota finally getting a few more chances as the period went on. A collision between two Whitecaps players in the Buffalo zone, however, led to a turnover as the teams neared the midway point of the opening frame. Emma Nuutinen was able to get the puck off the turnover, flying down the ice and picking the top corner to make it 2-0.
The Beauts drew penalties and worked to generate offense early in the second period. The Whitecaps managed to kill off two separate penalties early in the frame. But for Buffalo, the third time was the charm, as Nuutinen scored her second of the game on the power play near the midway point to make it 3-0. Jenna Brenneman made the initial stop, but the puck seemed to pop loose and slide in.
Things got a bit uncomfortable for the Beauts later in the second period, as Sydney Baldwin struck twice in a span of 2:18 to cut the game to a one-goal difference. Just as Buffalo seemed to be really taking over the game, the Whitecaps finally gained possession in the Buffalo end. Baldwin intercepted an attempted pass that deflected off the boards, skated across the ice and let a long-range shot rip from just outside the slot. The shot skirted through a crowd and beat Berndtsson on her glove side.
The Whitecaps seemed to get a big spark from Baldwin's first goal, then went on the power play late in the period. Once they had a two-player advantage, there was little question that they would capitalize. Amid chaos in the crease, Baldwin picked up the loose puck and lifted in high into the net.
Just as Minnesota gained some momentum to close the second period, the Beauts regrouped over the intermission and regained control in the third period. They quickly squashed any hopes of a Whitecaps comeback, outshooting their opponent by a 12-5 margin.
Grant-Mentis added an insurance marker, her second of the game, with just under four minutes left in regulation. She leads the Beauts with 15 points on the season.
Other Weekend Action
- The Beauts followed up Saturday's big win with a 1-0 victory on Sunday to sweep the weekend. Jenna Suokko had the lone goal, while Samantha Ridgewell recorded her first PHF win and first PHF shutout with 31 saves. This marks the first time since March 19-20, 2022 that the Beauts have won consecutive games. It's also the first time in franchise history that the Beauts won two road games in two consecutive days.
- The Boston Pride swept their weekend series against the Montreal Force, holding their opponent to just one goal in each of the two games. Corinne Schroeder had 39 saves Saturday in a 4-1 win, while Loren Gabel, Christina Putigna, Allie Thunstrom, and Sammy Davis scored. Jillian Dempsey and Kaleigh Fratkin scored in Sunday's 2-1 win, while Schroeder made 48 saves.
- The Toronto Six and Connecticut Whale split their weekend. The Six came out with a 5-3 win Saturday, powered by multi-point performances from Emma Woods, Michela Cava, and Dominika Lásková. Connecticut rallied for a 6-4 win on Sunday. Taylor Girard had three points (1G, 2A), while Melissa Samoskevich scored twice. Kennedy Marchment notched three assists. Elaine Chuli played both games for Toronto, while the Whale split their goaltending duties – Abbie Ives started on Saturday, while Meeri Räisänen got the nod on Sunday.
News & Notes
- Prior to the PHF's roster freeze, multiple teams signed players or otherwise made moves. The Beauts added Kristina Schuler, formerly of Boston University & Clarkson. Rachael Ade re-joined the Whale, while the Whitecaps signed goaltender Chantal Burke and forward Taylor Wente. Minnesota also put Amanda Leveille on long-term injured reserve and released Meaghan Pezon from her contract. Finally, the Riveters signed Hayley Lunny.
- In addition, the Pride signed Lexie Laing and Chloe Gonsalves to PTOs for this past weekend weekend. Both Boston and Minnesota were missing players due to participation in the US/Canada Rivalry Series.
- Tuesday evening, the Beauts announced that they have released forward Michaela Boyle from her contract, at player's request. Boyle appeared in 16 games this season but failed to register a point.
Playoff Details Unveiled
The PHF finally released initial details regarding its 2023 Isobel Cup Playoffs. The top four teams will make the playoffs, with three-game semifinal series hosted in Boston (Bentley Arena) and Toronto (Mattamy Athletic Centre). The championship will be a single game hosted at a neutral site on Sunday, March 26.
- Thursday, March 16: Semifinal Game #1 - Boston vs. TBA
- Friday, March 17: Semifinal Game #1 - Toronto vs. TBA
- Saturday, March 18: Semifinal Games #2 - Boston vs. TBA, Toronto vs. TBA
- Sunday, March 19: Semifinal Game #3 - Boston vs. TBA (if needed)
- Monday, March 20: Semifinal Game #3 - Toronto vs. TBA (if needed)
- Sunday, March 26: Championship Final
Game times and broadcast details have yet to be announced, though I believe the Final may be held at 9:00 PM Eastern, since I found a time slot reserved for said game on ESPN2's web schedule.
With all of that said, there is still a little room for teams hoping to make the postseason, but it won't be easy. The Whitecaps currently occupy the third playoff spot, but based on my math, they haven't clinched yet. The final spot is also still up for grabs.
- Boston (16-2-1), 46 points
- Toronto (14-4-2), 42 points
- Minnesota (10-6-2), 32 points
- Connecticut (9-8-2), 29 points
- Montreal (7-12-1), 19 points
- Metropolitan (6-12-0), 16 points
- Buffalo (4-12-2), 14 points