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Minnesota Topples Boston 2-1 in Nail Biter Finish

In their fourth meeting of the regular season the Whitecaps finally beat the Pride 2-1 thanks to a late third period goal by Jonna Curtis.

Meghan Pezon (#15) hanging onto the puck despite the best efforts of a couple of Boston Pride players. Cat Lenander

Saturday evening Minnesota met with Boston for the final time in the regular season at the Warrior Ice Arena. Just 10 seconds into the game Amanda Boulier went to the box for tripping Haley Skarupa. The Pride created a lot of great chances, including starting it off with a pretty serious blitz on Amanda Leveille, but couldn’t convert. Boston remained a dominating force for much of the period, though Minnesota regularly got bursts of offensive activity, and the fact they ultimately outshot the Whitecaps 13-7 first period reasonably reflected puck possession as well.

Boston got caught with too many skaters on the ice at 13:46 and Mallory Souliotis served the team penalty. The Whitecaps spent most of the power play in the Pride’s zone and they made a fair number of shot toward goal, but Katie Burt didn’t allow any attempt to get near the back of the net. Skarupa cut down the left side and then drew a tripping penalty from Emma Stauber during her drive toward the net at 16:27. This time Minnesota kept Boston out of their zone for most of the penalty before they killed it. The rest of the period had the Whitecaps on defense with Leveille blocking shot after shot. With 26 seconds left in the period the Pride thought Jillian Dempsey had scored during a scramble at the Minnesota crease, but it turned out the referees had already whistled the play dead before the puck had left the blue paint.

There was some back and forth to start second period with Boston getting the better chances, but that didn’t last for long. Jordan Smelker slashed Winny Brodt Brown, resulting in a penalty at 2:43. Gigi Marvin made a great shorthanded attempt that Kaleigh Fratkin tried to finish off, but knocked the net off its moorings instead. Then Lee Stecklein took a holding minor at 3:10, nullifying the rest of Minnesota’s power play. During 4-on-4 play Kendall Coyne Schofield and McKenna Brand had great shots stopped by Burt and Leveille respectively. Allie Thunstrom made a shorthanded shot into Burt just before both teams were back to full strength.

Thunstrom was denied on a breakaway, but her teammates Stauber and Kalli Funk were right on her tail for the rebound. This resulted in a puck battle and some shoving at the crease before Burt covered up the puck. Alyssa Gagliardi was denied on a solid slap shot and a minute later Fratkin went for cross-checking at 7:28. The Whitecaps spent most of the power play trying to set up plays, but couldn’t put together anything particularly dangerous and the penalty expired two minutes later.

Minnesota continued the period with some nice offense, which eventually resulted in Lexi Bender taking an interference penalty at 11:40. Dempsey had a nice shorthanded attempt near the end of an otherwise unremarkable power play. Near the end of the period the Pride had several excellent chances as they shot rebound after rebound on goal, but Leveille leaped back and forth across her crease to keep the puck out. Both teams were still scoreless going into second intermission.

Leveille had to stop a couple of shots early third period. However, before Boston could really get going this period Emily Field earned a tripping minor at 1:45. Minnesota stayed on the attack for most of the power play, but couldn’t beat Burt with the skater advantage. Boulier fed the puck to Thunstrom for a quick shot, which was denied. Then Thunstrom beat a potential icing, which allowed her to pass the puck back to Schofield for a slot shot goal at 5:35. This energized the Whitecaps enough that they were a whirling onslaught until Thunstrom wound up in the box for holding at 8:20. A tic-tac-toe play allowed Skarupa to slip the puck past Leveille at 9:03, tying the game. Bender and Gagliardi assisted on this power play goal.

Both teams had the goalies showcasing their best skills as they struggled to break the tie. Amy Menke made a flyby attempt and she tricked Burt into lunging before she fired, but her shot bounced harmlessly off the goaltender’s leg pad. Leveille had a swell save of her own after the puck deflected off a couple of bodies in front of her. Eventually Kate Schipper passed right to Jonna Curtis who then made a messy shot through Burt’s 5-hole to score at 18:35. Minnesota then used their time out, probably to rest skaters, as Boston was clearly ready to pull Burt for the skater advantage at the first possible moment.

Just after Burt was pulled Curtis streaked up the right side looking for an empty net goal, but Fratkin leaped into her skates to prevent this from happening. With a second and a half left in the game the Whitecaps iced the puck giving Boston one last chance off a faceoff to score. It didn’t happen. The Whitecaps finally beat the Pride this season with a 2-1 victory after outshooting them 33-30. Tomorrow Minnesota plays their final game of the season when they visit the Connecticut Whale.