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Whitecaps Finish Buffalo Sweep with 2-1 Victory, Remain Undefeated

Buffalo put up tremendous effort, but Minnesota eventually prevailed, winning 2-1 and finished the sweep.
Cat Lenander

Sunday the Minnesota Whitecaps finished their home series against the Buffalo Beauts in front of yet another sold out crowd at the TRIA Rink. As the last undefeated team in the NWHL the Whitecaps now had a target on their back and the Beauts wanted revenge for yesterday’s fall.

Just 19 seconds into the game Kate Schipper banged home Kendall Coyne Schofield’s back pass from the right corner of the crease. Amanda Boulier had the second assist. Clearly goaltender Shannon Szabados hadn’t been quite ready for that level of attack, though she blocked the next shot by Schofield, and then Amanda Leveille fended off several shots from the Beauts as they buzzed around her crease. Schofield drove the puck into Szabados’s logo and then her teammates got some solid chances before the Beauts got another flurry. It looked like Haylea Schmid was about to get a solid chance on goal, but her attempt was aborted before she could get a shot off and it turned into a much better one for Emily Janiga and Taylor Accursi at the opposite end of the rink.

Corinne Buie had a prime shot from the right circle that Leveille shut down. Accursi’s shot hit Leveille’s glove, landed in the crease, and slowly slide toward the goal line. Two Whitecaps immediately charged into the crease and were quickly followed by more skaters as Leveille lay in the crease as a great mess ensued. Eventually play was whistled down and a ref declared that the puck had not crossed the line, but that Schmid had covered the puck causing a delay of game at 14:40. A penalty shot was awarded to Buffalo, which Dani Cameranesi took for the team. Cameranesi succeeded, scoring high on the left side. Maddie Elia earned a hooking minor at 16:18 and while the Whitecaps nearly scored on the backdoor, the Beauts killed the penalty with prejudice.

Three seconds before the end of the period Emma Stauber and Elia took matching penalties for holding and roughing respectively, which carried into second period. Schofield made a shot into Szabados’s glove from the right circle and Lee Stecklein had the same results from the left as well. Then Blake Bolden checked Jonna Curtis as they crossed Buffalo’s blue line and went to the box at 1:36. However, the Whitecaps were unable to make anything out of the 4-on-3 or 5-on-4. Then Elia grabbed onto Stauber again, tried to haul her down and Stauber tossed her off onto the ice, which sent them both off for holding at 5:49. The Beauts were really buzzing with the open ice, but neither team converted.

Schmid sped up the right side and fed Allie Thunstrom the puck for a great slot shot, but Szabados denied them. Minnesota finally beat an icing and had a short offensive flurry that ended with a Boulier shot into Szabados. Kelly Babstock flew down the left side and made a lateral pass into the slot to a teammate, but Leveille blocked the shot. A concerted effect by Thunstrom and Curtis nearly broke the tie and then Amy Schlagel had a fantastic slapper that just went wide of goal. Amy Menke was denied on the doorstep and then Szabados gloved Boulier’s right point shot through traffic. Schofield made a wraparound attempt and Hannah Brandt got blocked twice before play went back to Minnesota’s end. There Hayley Scamurra took a roughing penalty at 16:38, which was eventually killed.

The teams were still tied when third period started. Soon after Stauber elbowed Babstock 2:20 and the Whitecaps put on a tight, highly defensive penalty kill. About a minute after the Whitecaps were back to full strength Katie Mcgovern gave the puck to Schofield and she flew up the left side, made a lateral pass, which Menke tipped in on the backdoor at 5:28. This relieved some of the pressure on Minnesota, though they continued pushing for another goal, and Schofield fed the puck to Schlagel for a shot that went wide. Babstock nearly tied the game when her shot landed on the outside of the post instead of sliding through the crack next to Leveille’s head. Then Elia had a shot deflect off Leveille’s mask as the Beauts hammered away on their former goaltender.

The last five minutes of the game were essentially Minnesota killing off the biggest penalty of the game and eventually the Beauts even had the extra skater when Szabados got pulled. Minnesota didn’t even bother with an empty netter attempt, instead focused on running out the clock, and used their timeout with 5.5 seconds left on the clock to rest the ladies out of the ice. There was no urgency when play resumed and seconds later the final buzzer sounded while the puck was glued to the backboards.

The Minnesota Whitecaps had won 2-1, sweeping the Buffalo Beauts after being outshot 35-30. They remain undefeated with a streak of 6-0. Their next NWHL game will occur on December 1st at the TRIA rink against the Boston Pride, but you can catch the Whitecaps in action next weekend at the AMSOIL Arena in Duluth when they take on the Bulldogs at 4pm on Saturday, November 3rd in an exhibition match.