The Minnesota Whitecaps finished their second series against the Buffalo Beauts Sunday afternoon at the Harbor Center. Unlike the day before Buffalo decided to switch it up and put Nicole Hensley in goal, while Minnesota continued with Amanda Leveille. This may have been just what the home team needed to change their luck on their special even Superhero Night—which as a fun aside, they gave out caps to the first 500 kids and Shannon Szabaods wore one on the bench for much of the game.
Play may have started in Minnesota’s end, but Allie Thunstrom got the first shot on goal before her teammates started piling up shots all period. There was a lot of puck chasing from end to end of the rink and the refs seemed more willing to let them play today. For example Thunstrom got pulled down by two Beaut defenders during a streak to the net without a call and the Whitecaps got away with a few plays of their own. Amanda Boulier had a nice shot through traffic after the Whitecaps boxed the Beauts in for a couple minutes and the play only ended when Hensley covered the puck during a mess at her crease.
Kelly Babstock hooked Amy Menke and went to the box at 7:59. A lot of the power play had Minnesota puck cycling, with their best shot coming from Kendall Coyne Schofield, but they finished their advantage playing defense as the Beauts had rallied for an attack. Lee Stecklein went for tripping at 10:18, but after talking with the refs Boulier served it in her place—the announcers suggested that Stecklein may have gotten cut and needed to briefly leave the ice to deal with that. In any case Buffalo swarmed Leveille for almost the full two minutes, with the only real respite coming when Kate Schipper made a shorthanded breakaway attempt.
Jonna Curtis put a sweet backhand shot on Hensley, which she denied. Then Leveille was suddenly fending off some tricky shots. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, she couldn’t handle everything, as Emily Pfalzer made a right point pass to Maddie Elia and she deflected the puck into goal from the doorstep at 16:58. Minnesota kicked up their offense, eventually outshooting Buffalo 15-5 in the first period, but couldn’t get on the board.
Second period started with Schofield nearly scoring up close and personal. Schipper also had a great shot after Thunstrom set her up, but got denied as well. Then Taylor Accursi was left alone in Minnesota’s zone with the puck, which resulted in her putting the puck into Leveille. Not long after Hayley Scamurra started a blitz that left Leveille in the eye of a frenzy. She stopped several shots, but she was down when Pfalzer fired her own rebound into goal at 3:15. Elia and Dani Cameranesi assisted. Janiga went for tripping at 4:41 and while there was a scare for Buffalo when Hensley went down during a mess at her crease they killed the penalty. Thunstrom flyby shot that should have gone in, she had even started to celebrate, but somehow Hensley soared across the crease and caught the puck in her armpit.
The Beauts got a quick couple shots on Leveille, but the goalie was too good to let them past. After Leveille had stopped and covered one of the shots Elia tried to fish the puck out from under her and Winny Brodt Brown took offense to this; this resulted in both Brown and Elia going to the box for roughing at 9:07. With 4-on-4 play Pfalzer made wrap around attempt and then a shot from the right circle. Lisa Chessen nearly tipped in a shot, but Leveille somehow kept it out. That played turned physical and Chelsey Brodt Rosental went to the box for cross-checking at 10:59. The 4-on-3 didn’t last long and once Buffalo was on a standard power play Scamurra scored at 11:47 after a quick back and forth with Elia as the Beauts whirled around Minnesota’s zone.
Babstock earned a roughing minor at 13:43, but it harmlessly expired two minutes later. Pfalzer flew down right side for a shot, but got denied and there was no one in place to catch the rebound. Then at the very end of the period Babstock put the puck into Leveille’s glove and as soon as they finished the faceoff Schofield did the same at the opposite end to finish the period.
Scamurra had a dangerous shot early in the third. Curtis had a solid chance of her own, but Buffalo quickly got some offense going and they spent a lot of the period catching up on shots. Some of the Beaut defenders tried to shove Whitecaps out of the crease after Hensley made a save. A little later Schofield had a solid attempt after flying up the left side. Pfalzer drew a delayed penalty, which eventually kicked in at 5:11, and sent Boulier to the box for hooking. On the resulting power play Cameranesi repeatedly nearly scored, but the Whitecaps killed the penalty. This allowed them to keep pushing, but without any success and Boulier foiled Accursi’s 1-on-1 attempt.
At 11:15 Stecklein was called for slashing. During the power play there was a pile up along the far side of the net and while the Whitecaps were still recovering, Cameranesi took the puck around the back of the net, passed down to Elia and she knocked it home just past Leveille’s glove at 12:35. Chesson had the second assist. The Beauts were buzzing and continued to put up shots, while Minnesota couldn’t manage anything cohesive. All Minnesota’s last power play, which kicked in at 16:31 after Sarah Edney slashed Schofield, did was improve Hensley’s record. A frustrated and defeated team, Minnesota finished the game on the PK after Amy Schlagel went for elbowing elbowing Cameranesi at 19:57.
It took until their final meet up of the regular season, but the Beauts had finally beaten the Whitecaps with a 4-0 shutout to boot. Hopefully it won’t take Minnesota long to get over this loss because they’ll be back out east on January 12th to play Boston. That’s a game they will definitely want to win, since they have yet to beat the Pride this season.