Saturday afternoon the Minnesota Whitecaps were back in action, this time at the Key Bank Center as they took on the Buffalo Beauts for their final series of the regular season. Buffalo fans had to be happy about the goaltending choices, as they not only got to see Shannon Szabados between the pipes, but their former goalie, Amanda Leveille on the ice for Minnesota as well.
Hannah Brandt won the initial faceoff and fed the puck to Kendall Coyne Schofield for the first shot on goal of the game. After that the Beauts began to make their presence known on the ice and eventually Corinne Buie made a right point shot that hit Leveille right in the logo. Buie had another solid shot a minute later before the Whitecaps had a small flurry of their own. At 9:50 Kelly Babstock took a hooking penalty. Minnesota put on the pressure, which Schofield and Lee Stecklein both making shots through traffic that left Szabados scrambling, but Buffalo killed the penalty.
As soon as they were back to full strength Emily Janiga made a flyby attempt that Leveille denied. Then Buie tripped on Amy Schlagel’s stick and she went to the box at 13:02. The Beauts caused a mess at Minnesota’s net and Janiga made a wrap around attempt, but she couldn’t get the puck past Leveille, who was sprawled across the crease. Sarah Casorso earned an interference minor at 15:47. Despite the fact this was the Whitecaps’ power play Julianna Iafallo got the puck to Buie, who flew up the right side before making a back pass to Blake Bolden and she scored shorthanded from the slot at 17:43. Minnesota did not convert and went into first intermission trailing by one.
Still, they were ready to score as soon as second period began, what with Schofield continuing to test Szabados. The Beauts blitzed Leveille and absolutely shelled their former goalie to the point that Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal had to take a delayed holding penalty to stop the attack, which kicked in at 4:06. Both teams were moving better on this power play than they had in the first and the penalty expired harmlessly two minutes later.
. @LeeSteck2 politely cleaning up the Minnesota crease. No thank you, ma'am. #BUFvMIN pic.twitter.com/vsOufU1bn5— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) December 29, 2018
Babstock went back to the box on roughing charges at 6:32. The Whitecaps were trying to make something happen with a few quick scrambles at Szabados’s crease. Then Maddie Elia slashed Allie Thunstrom as she entered Buffalo’s zone, which left the Beauts trying to kill a 5-on-3 at 7:23. Minnesota kept putting the puck on goal, but none of them were great shots until Schofield tricked Szabados and 5-holed the puck from the right side at 8:39. Amanda Boulier had the lone assist. Leveille stopped Savannah Harmon’s mid range shot from the right side. Then Casorso checked Schofield along the Buffalo sideboards, sending her back to the box at 9:59 and the Beauts had to kill another penalty.
Leveille stopped Iafallo’s shot and covered up just before the forward and Babstock crashed into her crease. Then Thunstrom flew up the left side before passing toward Katie McGovern, but couldn’t quite connect for a backdoor attempt. There was a lot of rink racing as the teams traded shot attempts. Bolden tried for another last minute goal, but this time Leveille stopped her attempt with a kick save.
Third period began with the teams still tied 1-1 and this time Buffalo led the charge. Dani Cameranesi and Hayley Scamurra had a paired attempt to fool Leveille, but it didn’t work. Emma Stauber checked Elia 49 seconds in, putting the Beauts back on the power play. Harmon got denied on another solid shot. Then a Scamurra shot caused another mess in Minnesota’s crease and Cameranesi nearly puck the puck in the back of the open net, but Boulier batted it away just in time. Even after the penalty was killed the Beauts continued piling up dangerous shots on Minnesota.
. @Amanda_Boulier whisks the puck away from Dani Cameranesi in front of the yawning net and keeps the game 1-1! pic.twitter.com/jJgCEHukOC— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) December 29, 2018
Thunstrom caught up to a sliding puck in Buffalo’s zone and put a shot on goal and then got another one three minutes later after a little rink racing. Babstock received a slashing minor at 8:20 and while the power play was spent most in Buffalo’s zone, the Whitecaps were unable to convert. Schofield’s shot caused a mess at Szabados’s crease and the goaltender had to make a glove save on Brandt’s last second shot after her teammate set up the play. Things cooled off for a bit and the teams traded shots as play went from end to end. The Beauts got another flurry, which Leveille held off thanks in part to the team in front of her hampering their plays.
Stecklein made a left point shot. Then play was back on Minnesota’s doorstep and Buie got denied despite the mess. Stauber had to stop a 3-on-1 rush and a few seconds later Minnesota use their timeout at 16:33 for the Whitecaps to catch their breath. When play resumed Buffalo continued hounding Buffalo until Minnesota cleared their zone. Suddenly Stecklein was skating up the left side, ducked around Cameranesi, and banged the puck home in the top right pocket at 18:42. Schofield assisted. Beauts immediately used their timeout and when play resumed Szabados was off the ice for the extra attacker. Buffalo hammered away Minnesota as they swarmed the zone, but it was no good and they couldn’t beat Leveille again.
Roseville’s own @LeeSteck2 with her first of the year 2-1 MN pic.twitter.com/KTm9ZlbJzn— Minnesota Whitecaps (@WhitecapsHockey) December 29, 2018
Minnesota won 2-1 after being outshot 27-34 by Buffalo. The two points from this victory will certainly help the team in the standings, as it puts the Whitecaps back on top—at least for the moment. Minnesota plays their final game against Buffalo tomorrow starting at 12:30pm CT. The game should be streamed online, like today and all the other NWHL games are, and came be found through the league’s site.