Pride Keep Rolling, Down Rivs in MLK Matinee

Photo Credit: Michelle Jay

By: Spencer Fascetta | Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

I could bore you all with yet another tale of Boston Pride dominance. That wouldn’t be out of place, following their league-leading 19th victory of the season, a 5-3 barn-burner with the Metropolitan Riveters. But that’s not what’s important. What IS important, is that this day, the Pride Took the Lead, championing the fight against racism and hate speech in sports, and did so with their heads held high.

Victoria Hanson gave Super Swede Lovisa Selander the afternoon off, getting the call against a physically dominant Rivs’ squad. She was solid, making 14 saves on the 17 shots that managed to squeak through the vice that was the Pride’s defense. Up front, their depth took control, as 5 different players buried one behind Samantha “Brick Wall” Walther, who made 36 saves on 41 shots for the Rivs in a losing effort. Nine different players recorded a point.

Veteran and All-Star Lexi Bender got it going off a ridiculous feed from Tori Sullivan (more on her later), going forehand/backhand to beat Walther for her 3rd of the season. Bender’s activation from the point has become a recurring theme for the Pride’s offense, as Coach Paul Mara clearly has his offense built around a 5 player attack.

Remember Sully? She converted the next one, her 12th of her fabulous rookie campaign, off a turnover created by linemate Lexie Laing, and the Pride looked well on their way to another victory.

The Pride allowed a beautiful passing play off a turnover from defender Mallory Souliotis to be finished off by Kate Leary with 29 seconds remaining in the period, closing the lead to 2-1 after 20 minutes of play.

Then, only two and a half minutes into the 2nd frame, Brooke Avery found a huge blind spot in the Pride’s defensive coverage, and ripped a spin-o-rama wrister past Hanson, and all of a sudden, the Pride faced some adversity.

That was how the 2nd stanza came to an end. Shockingly, the league-leading Pride unable to solve Walther any further. Of late, the Pride have had to win more games in the 3rd period than I’m sure they would like, so Coach Mara likely ripped into them in the intermission. The result? A thoroughly dominant 3rd Period, where the big players came up even bigger.
McKenna Brand ripped the monkey off her back, burying her first goal in four games, her team-leading 15th of the season, as she found a small space underneath Walther. Brand has been near-dominant this season, drawing such praise as for some to ponder her inclusion on the US National Team at some point in the near future.

That lead would not last long, however, as young Russian star Tatiana Shatalova buried her 3rd of the year just over two minutes later to knot the game back up with a brilliant individual effort.

That’s when the Pride got to work. Mallory Souliotis fully redeemed herself from her 1st period turnover and found the back of the net off a wacky bounce just two minutes after Shatalova tied it. Her 3rd of the season would put the Pride in front permanently.

Christina Putigna popped her 6th in on the powerplay as a late insurance marker, as the frustrated Riveters began a late-game parade to the penalty box, and the top line showed it’s stuff. That was all that it took to stretch their league-record winning streak to 19 games. That’s two games longer than any winning streak in the National Hockey League, set by the Pittsburgh Penguins between March 9th and April 12th, 1993. It is two games shy of the New England Patriots’ run between October 5th, 2003 and October 31st, 2004, a 21 game win streak which is the NFL’s longest mark. The 2017 Cleveland Indians are only one game longer than that a 22 for the MLB’s longest run. What this team has done on the ice has been special.

What is even more special is what they’ve done OFF the ice. Today’s Twitch.tv stream had more than 10,000 viewers, in addition to the standing-room-only, sold-out Warrior Arena. Noted professional hockey fan Steve Dangle even tuned in, and encouraged his followers to do the same!

The team, as per usual, spent their postgame time signing autographs for the hundreds of young fans in attendance. That’s the impact of this team. They are a part of this community. (It helps to be really, really good at the whole hockey thing though).

Next up, the Pride travel out to Minnesota to take on the Whitecaps, who trail them in the standings by 12 points, with a game in hand. Be sure to tune in at 7/6 PM Central on Saturday, January 25th to see the two best teams in the league go head to head.

Ideally, I’d love for these pieces to end with a little Q&A mailbag with me, so I encourage you to reach out on Twitter, @PuckNerdHockey and help me out! Additionally, I encourage everyone to continue watching the Pride, and supporting the NWHL. They truly are #WomenWorthWatching, and to be honest, they’re the best hockey team in Boston right now – and it’s not particularly close.

PuckNerd

Just a crazy college kid who loves math, loves hockey even more, and feels the need to write about it sometimes. I am currently developing my own hockey statistic. You can follow me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey, and check out my YouTube channel, PuckNerd, where I discuss hockey statistics, news, and Bruins' related content!

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