Saturday night was the start of the Minnesota Whitecaps’ final home series of the regular season against the Connecticut Whale. Not only was it Hockey Day Minnesota, but it was also the Whitecaps’ “You Can Play Night” which featured snazzy tastefully rainbow jerseys on the ice. The Whale came out strong putting shots onto goaltender Amanda Leveille in an attempt to pay Minnesota back for last weekend. Meghan Pezon took a tripping minor at 5:18, and the Whitecaps looked dangerous despite being shorthanded for the entire two-minute period.
Minnesota then went on the attack for the next five minutes or so forcing Whale defense to work their tails off. Meeri Räisänen was amazing in goal all game—ultimately facing 40 shots to Leveille’s 19—and an excellent job tracking the puck on just about every play. Nina Rodgers checked Winny Brodt Brown, earning her a trip to the box at 18:35, which carried over into second period and mostly entailed the Whitecaps boxing the Whale into their own zone.
Even once the penalty expired Minnesota remained on the attack creating a blizzard of activity in Connecticut’s zone. Jonna Curtis attempted a wraparound, which Räisänen foiled, and her teammates soon overpowered the Whale so that they could remain on the offense. Kate Schipper earned an interference penalty for stopping a Whale during a chance on goal at 7:41. On the resulting power play Rodgers hit the post, but Connecticut was unable to convert.
Minnesota continued piling up shots, and then Kayla Meneghin had a great high shot, which Leveille still managed to block. Brooke White hit the post and on the following play White passed from the right circle to Thunstrom in the left whereupon Thunstrom banged the puck home, top shelf, at 16:08. Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal had the second assist. Whitecaps remained on the attack for the rest of the period, though it did end with a final shot from a Whale.
Third period started with some back and forth rink racing. Minnesota briefly boxed Connecticut in a couple times. With the Whitecaps buzzing Kendall Coyne Schofield carried the puck behind Räisänen’s net and passed to Brandt in the slot for an immediate goal at 3:53. Amy Menke had the second assist. Kaycie Anderson shot into Leveille’s glove and Connecticut started trying to kick their game up a couple notches, but it took a while before they couldn’t trap the Whitecaps in their own zone. They did at least start putting more shots on Leveille and they got a little trickier about it too—by using screens and attempting wraparounds.
Hanna Beattie tripped Amanda Boulier without a call. It became apparent as the game wore on that Minnesota had drastically backed off, since they had a safe lead considering how the game was being play and this led to enough Whale chances that they had to go back on the attack again. Curtis made a left circle shot into Räisänen, and she quickly covered the puck after making the initial save. It was a little surprising Connecticut never pulled Räisänen for the extra skater, but both goalies were still between the pipes when the final buzzer sounded and Minnesota won 2-0. The Whitecaps and the Whale finish the series at 2pm CT Sunday.