WHITECAPS FEND OFF BEAUTS' COMEBACK, WIN 5-3
By Nathaniel A. Oliver
In a rematch between the 2019 Isobel Cup finalists, the Minnesota Whitecaps and Buffalo Beauts traded scoring chances, big saves, and penalties tonight in New York. The Whitecaps held on to win the game by a final score of 5-3 after the Beauts rallied and nearly erased an early four-goal lead established by Minnesota.
The Whitecaps took a quick and commanding 4-0 lead over Buffalo just over 10 minutes into the game. Lauren Barnes opened the scoring with her first of the season at 4:43. Nicole Schammel would follow that up with two straight goals — her fifth and sixth tallies on the year. Meghan Lorence would add Minnesota's fourth less than six minutes after Barnes' opener.
By picking up an assist on the Lorence goal, Schammel had points on three of the first four goals for Minnesota. Tonight's performance made her the Whitecaps' new scoring leader.
Buffalo's comeback rally began at the 15:01 mark of the first period. Defender Megan Delay fired the puck home from the slot through traffic to beat Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille. The goal was the first of Delay's professional career.
"I saw that there was nobody in front of the net, so I kind of stepped up," said Delay. "The puck slid right out into the slot, and I saw two Minnesota players coming at me. I thought, 'You know what, let's take a shot.' Then it went in and I was pretty pumped."
Buffalo would further narrow the gap in the second period. Capitalizing on a Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal holding infraction for Minnesota, the Beauts Taylor Accursi scored on the power play. Her low shot past Leveille came just eight seconds into the player advantage and made the score 4-2.
Accursi was not done for the night. Only 59 seconds into the third period, she skated in on Leveille with a full head of steam. Accursi threaded a needle by beating Leveille's glove up high with a snap shot.
Despite Buffalo's best efforts to knot the score, the Whitecaps regained their two-goal lead on the power play. With the Beauts' Kim Brown in the box for goalie interference, Lorence scored on the advantage at the 14:05 mark of the third.
Buffalo goalie Mariah Fujimagari faced 30 shots by game's end, and made numerous stellar saves as the Beauts pushed for the comeback.
"I think it's all about progression with the team," said Fujimagari. "I think that we're not really focusing on the scoreboard - we're focusing on our game, and focusing on playing our game. I think that we didn't get off to the start that we wanted. But when we play our game and stick to our plan then we're really successful."
These teams will face each other again less than 24-hours from now when they square-off at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24. Tickets for the rematch are available at beauts.nwhl.zone/tickets.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay