One of the most anticipated games on the 2022-23 PHF schedule is in the books, with the first game in league history at Richfield Ice Arena in Richfield, MN featuring the Whitecaps and back-to-back champion Boston Pride drawing to a close. It was Pride netminder Schroeder stealing the show, though, posting her third straight shutout to begin her PHF career in a 2-0 win for Boston.
Whitecaps fans were greeted with familiar faces on both sides of the ice, with franchise goal-scoring leader Allie Thunstrom returning to Minnesota for the first time after joining the Pride this offseason.
The first period was full of mixed signals from the Caps, walking away nearly even in both shots (14-13 BOS). Minnesota may not have had the new-arena jump some expected. Still, they settled for a perfectly acceptable feeling-each-other-out start to the game against the back-to-back defending champions.
It didn’t take too long for the Whitecaps to get some confidence, unsurprisingly off the stick of Jonna Albers. A great play from last season’s leading point-getter to drive along the boards and shovel the puck toward the slot created an excellent chance for Brittyn Fleming, which Pride goalie Corinne Schroeder stopped.
The first period was also a strong showing for Czech import Denisa Křížová, who’s still looking for her first point as a member of the Whitecaps. Her breakaway opportunity just minutes after the Fleming chance forced Thunstrom to take a hooking penalty, but a strong showing from the Pride penalty kill kept the game scoreless.
Both goalies had to be strong in the first period, though, with a Ronja Mogren penalty giving the Pride a power play for the last two minutes of the frame. Amanda Leveille was up to the task, stopping a handful of Pride chances to keep the game tied.
The second period began much as the first, with both teams calmly exchanging possession through the first quarter of the frame. As the Pride were able to garner a bit of pressure, though, a pinching Jenna Rheault got a shot away and beat Leveille to give Boston the first goal in PHF history at Richfield Ice Arena.
Period 2 was also more of the same for Denisa Křížová, who generated a handful of chances and drew a penalty from her Czech compatriot, Aneta Tejlarová. Still, the Whitecaps failed to convert on their second power-play opportunity of the night.
Another player who stood out in a big way for Minnesota in the second frame was Amanda Boulier. The sixth-year pro was stout on defense, and her passing and awareness allowed the Whitecaps to have some periods of dominant offensive zone time at even strength.
That even-strength possession was a theme for the Whitecaps, who outshot the Pride 20-5 in the second. Schroeder’s stellar positioning in the Pride crease was Boston’s key to retaining the lead heading into the third.
It was a much different start to the third period, though, with Minnesota’s leadership group coming out strong shorthanded. Albers and captain Sydney Brodt had a pair of golden chances within the first minute, negating the remainder of the Ashleigh Brykaliuk penalty taken with a minute left in the second period.
Despite Minnesota’s continued pressure, Allie Thunstrom would slip through and create an opportunity for the Pride. Leveille made the initial save, but a sharp-angle follow-up chance from noted playoff performer Cristina Putigna put Boston up 2-0 with 13:52 remaining in the game.
Perhaps the night’s most frustrating moment came just before the TV timeout in the third, with Albers receiving a glorious pass out front. The shot attempt didn’t get on net, with Albers sailing it over the crossbar with no one defending.
A Kali Flanagan penalty put the Whitecaps on the power play with 2:03 remaining in the third, but a flurry of chances after a timeout from head coach Ronda Engelhardt couldn’t find their way past Schroeder. An empty-net lob from the Pride narrowly avoided making it a 3-0 defeat with less than five seconds left on the clock.
Minnesota did a stellar job throughout the game, prohibiting the Pride from getting opportunities from the home plate area when they did have sustained zone time. Unfortunately, Boston returned the favor and forced the Whitecaps to go for quantity over quality, although Minnesota was able to generate a handful of quick-strike chances.
The Whitecaps’ defensive structure remains generally solid, and they easily come away with their first win of the season if not for the stellar play of Schroeder. They’ll need to find another gear of speed to generate more rush chances and higher-quality shots from in the zone to beat the rookie goalie tomorrow.
Jonna Albers’ skill remains evident after notching a goal and an assist in Minnesota’s first two games of the season in Toronto. It was an off-night for her in terms of accuracy, but expect her to get back on the scoresheet tomorrow with a similar effort.
An obvious shoutout to Corinne Schroeder, who’s now made 102 straight saves to start her Pride tenure. Incredible doesn’t describe her play over the past two weeks.
Minnesota retakes the ice tomorrow against the Pride at 6 p.m. CT.https://checkintendies.transistor.fm/