BEFORE PACKED CROWD, BRAND SCORES TWICE IN 13 SECONDS IN BOSTON VICTORY
By Jane Norton
Before an overflow crowd of loud and proud fans and playing in camo jerseys on Military Appreciation Night, the Boston Pride continued their undefeated season with an exceptional performance in a 6-1 victory over the Buffalo Beauts on Saturday.
“The atmosphere was awesome,” said Pride forward McKenna Brand, who scored two goals in a 13-second span in the second period and is the NWHL’s leading scorer. “Every time we scored, I looked at the crowd and everyone was going crazy and I couldn’t even see any empty yellow seats. That means so much to us because we really feed off the energy of the Boston Pride fans.”
They also seemed to be prepared to play from the drop of the puck. Repeat after us: The Pride have scored first in every game this season, and the Pride have won every game they’ve played this season.
This was again the formula on Saturday as first period goals by Mary Parker and Lexie Laing gave their usual quick start.
Parker, left untouched in front of the Buffalo goal, banged home a goal to open the scoring exactly ten minutes into the game. With 56 seconds left in the first, Laing scored on a wicked short-side, top-shelf snipe over the shoulder of Beauts goalie Mariah Fujimagari.
“Being sharp out of the gate and setting the tone is definitely a focus for our coaching staff and our team,” said Parker, who also scored a goal in the third and now has four on the season. “That’s been the case all season. We also have to credit the Pride fans tonight. Warrior was louder than ever, and our fans were inspiring us from beginning to end. It’s always a blast playing in front of a full house.”
After the first period, the NWHL Player of the Month for October began establishing her candidacy for the next award in her first game in November. Brand scored goals 13 seconds apart late in the second period to give Boston a 4-0 lead, essentially putting the game away.
Brand, who was named First Star of the game, said everyone on her team prioritized staying focused during the long break between games.
“We did a LOT of line rushes at our practices – 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s, making crisp passes, getting shots on net,” said Brand. “As a team, we emphasized not letting up during the time between games, and all that work paid off tonight.”
“McKenna doesn’t let up,” said Pride head coach Paul Mara. “Every time she’s at the rink, she is committed to making herself a better player. I believe people around hockey are beginning to take notice of McKenna Brand, and if they haven’t yet, they should. She’s an exceptional player in every area of the game.”
Buffalo’s Sara Bustad scored her first career NWHL goal to close the gap to 4-1 after two periods.
“It’s always special to get your first goal, especially in the pros and in a great league like the NWHL,” said Bustad. “The support of our team has been amazing. I’m just so, so thankful for the support I have from many people.”
Parker scored her second goal early in the third, and Tori Sullivan added another at 7:38 to close out the win. The Pride are now 8-0.
Fujimagari was strong in net for Buffalo, making 45 saves on 51 shots.
“Give our players a lot of credit – they were ready to go from the drop of the puck,” said Mara, whose team out-shot Buffalo, 51-19. “They worked hard during the break and kept their focus. I’m really proud of the effort from everyone on the roster.”
The Beauts get to shake this one off quickly, as they face the Whale in Connecticut on Sunday at 12:30 pm.
The Pride are back at Warrior on Saturday, Nov. 23 for a 6:30 pm matchup against the Whale. Based on how the barn in Boston was packed tonight, fans will want to order their tickets now at NWHL.zone/tickets.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay