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Whitecaps Whale on Whale, Winning 4-1

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Minnesota meets Connecticut for the first time and wins 4-1 on the road.

Cat Lenander

After last night’s defeat the Minnesota Whitecaps headed down to the Terry Conners Ice Rink in Stamford, CT, to face the Connecticut Whale. While the Whitecaps were looking a little slower to start the game, especially since Kendall Coyne Schofield wasn’t playing, they were still ready to rumble. Amanda Boulier fired the puck into Meeri Räisänen’s logo and this was soon followed up with a Jonna Curtis midrange shot from the right side. The Whale were also getting the puck into Minnesota’s zone, but not often onto Amanda Leveille in goal. This was a little surprising, as there was a lot of visible glare with which Leveille had to contend.

Emily Fluke flew up the left side and put a solid shot on goal. Then Michelle Löwenhielm and Katerina Mrázová came in with the latter carrying the puck along the right side, but that play ended with a Leveille cover up as well. However the same couldn’t be said about the next time Curtis flew down the right side, as she buried the puck in the back of the net at 6:58. Boulier had the lone assist. Emma Stauber had her stick held by Kayla Meneghin at 12:01, though the official box scored listedn the penalty as Rachael Ade for holding. Whitecaps started with some puck cycling before they started firing and eventually a Hannah Brandt shot hit Räisänen’s pads, which made the puck veer, but not enough to miss the back of the net at 12:50. Boulier and Amy Menke assisted on this power play goal.

Nina Rodgers carried the puck up the left side before throwing it on goal at the crease, which kicked off a Whale blitz. Eventually Fluke passed from the bottom of the left circle to Löwenhielm in the slot and she scored with a high shot at 15:09. Shannon Doyle had the second assist. Minnesota captain Winny Brodt Brown argued that the goal should be disallowed because Leveille had lost a glove and play should have been whistled down, but the goal stood. Seconds later the Whitecaps nullified the Whale’s goal when Boulier’s right point shot sailed over a butterflied Räisänen into goal at 15:34. Menke assisted. Lauren Barnes took a hooking penalty at 17:55, but Minnesota killed it after Curtis nearly scored shorthanded.

There was a lot of back and forth in the first third of second period with Curtis’s right side shot being the best chance for Minnesota and Doyle’s long shot through traffic for the Whale. Both teams were continuing to make attempts, but it was definitely a slower period than the first. When the Whitecaps got buzzing they put a couple of quick right point shots on goal, which Räisänen and her defense blocked. The Whale eventually went on the offense with some solid play making, but all they accomplished was a mess at Minnesota’s crease before they had to go back on the defense. Menke scored while Räisänen was down after Brandt may have bumped her during a Whitecaps rapid-fire play. Brandt also assisted on this goal, which came at 9:32.

Lee Stecklein’s left circle shot was denied. Then Meneghin had a nice shot that ultimately turned into a mess at Leveille’s crease as Connecticut whirled around her. Allie Thunstrom’s right side shot got denied. Then Katie McGovern carried the puck into Connecticut’s zone before passing to Curtis for a falling tip in shot, but Räisänen denied this as well. The Whale spent a little while plucking the puck off Whitecaps’ sticks, but eventually Minnesota was able to outplay them and cause a lot of confusion in the zone. This may have contributed to Rodgers moving the puck through Connecticut’s slot, which allowed Schipper to zoom in and smack the puck off her stick onto goal, which Räisänen caught and covered. At the very end of the period Meneghin caught a turnover in MN zone and went one-on-one with Leveille, who had to stop multiple saves before finally clearing the puck.

Minnesota Whitecaps Amy Menke (#21) and Meghan Pezon (#15).
Amy Menke (#21) had one of her best games all season, recording one goal and two assists against the Whale.
Cat Lenander

Early in the third Mrázová nearly scored with a left side shot that went just wide of goal. This was immediately followed up with another fantastic chance by Meneghin and might have turned in a Mrázová goal a moment later, but play was whistled down because the Minnesota net was knocked off its moorings. Hanna Beattie made a sudden midrange shot into a Whitecaps skater. Then Boulier went for body checking Rodgers at 2:48. However, Connecticut only controlled the puck at the very beginning and end of their power play. Instead Schipper made a shorthanded attempt before Menke fed the puck to Curtis for another shorthanded that took out Räisänen’s net.

Rodgers came up the left side and passed to Fluke for a shot. Play devolved into a lot of rapid rink racking until Colleen Murphy and Fluke made a pair of shots as well. Räisänen pulled off two fast saves then had to be wary in her crease as the Whitecaps still owned her zone. Thunstrom drove down the center for a shot into Räisänen, which was immediately followed by Meghan Pezon and two Whales crashing the net and knocking it off its moornings.

Boulier hammered Fluke into Minnesota’s sideboards as she entered the zone, which earned her a trip to the box for boarding at 12:10. Fluke dropped like a rock, but was able to participate in the resulting power play. The Whitecaps hunkered down defensively as the Whale created chaos. Mrázová’s shot from the slot looked like it would go in, but the puck got poked wide. As soon as Minnesota killed the penalty they went on a power play of their own, as Taylor Marchin got a holding penalty at 14:11. Minnesota spent their two minutes puck cycling and shooting, but couldn’t convert again.

Just after the Whale went back to full strength Räisänen lunged out of her crease to cover and Curtis landed on her. This quickly turned into a scuffled over the goalie and Curtis started swinging. Refs threw Curtis in the box at 16:06 for roughing and made it a double minor to boot. This put Connecticut on a power play for the rest of the game, though Doyle argued it ought to become 5-on-3 play after the puck flew out of play in Minnesota’s zone. She didn’t get her wish. Menke had another shorthanded attempt, Rodger’s shot was deflected by Thunstrom, and the Whale pressed for the rest of the period, but couldn’t score again. Minnesota beat Connecticut 4-1 after outshooting them 34-27.