Buffalo Beauts/CT Whale NWHL
By Dave Ricci
Buffalo – Only the Buffalo Beauts know exactly what head coach Ric Seiling said during the first intermission, but it’s a safe bet that after falling behind 5-1, Seiling told his girls to forget the first period. Just go out and win the next two frames.
But the hole was simply to deep to climb out of.
Kelli Stack had four points (three assists) as the Connecticut Whale won a 7-5 shoot out over the Beauts in their NWHL game that was played on the KeyBank Rink at the HarborCenter on Sunday.
Stack more than did her part to silence the roughly 200 fans that were on hand as she registered all three of her helpers in a stunning 31 second time span that saw the Whale race to a 3-0 lead.
“I really don’t know,” coach Seiling said when asked what went wrong. “I just told the girls that was a good example of not prepared, not ready to start the game then that’s what happens. If you look at the rest of the game, take away that first five minutes, and we win the game 5 to 3. But that first five minutes, breakdowns, not doing our jobs. It’s a costly mistake, but hopefully a learning mistake.”
Haley Skarupa extended the lead to 4-0 after she scored the first of her two goals on the night. East Aurora’s Emily Janiga gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about when she collected her second goal of the season when she danced into the Whale end, pulled a nifty move and slid the puck between the pads of Whale goalie Shenae Lundberg with 4:08 left in the period.
But the positive buzz didn’t last long as Stack came right back with a goal just 32 seconds later.
Connecticut out shot Buffalo 14-10 in the first period, chasing Beauts starting goalie Amanda Leveille from the net in favor of veteran Brianne McLaughlin to start the second period.
“They have the talent,” Janiga said. “Their goals were good. They took advantage of the opportunities that they had, the rushes they had. So we’ve just got to figure it out, learn from this and keep moving forward.”
The second and third periods definitely belonged to the Beauts as they out shot the visitors 18-9 and 28-24 total for the game.
Jordan Brickner scored the game winner with 7:12 left to play, giving the Whale a 6-4 lead. But Beauts forward Corinne Buie had everyone thinking overtime when she scored her first of the season a minute later. Kelly Babstock would put the final nail in the coffin with her empty net goal with 12.1 seconds to play.
“I thought our players showed what Buffalo is all about. They didn’t quit,” said Seiling. “They kept coming, they kept coming. When you’re down 4-0 there’s a lot of teams that would pack it in real fast. These girls didn’t pack it in at all.”
Part of the Beauts early woes in the defensive end could also be attributed to the fact that assistant coach Craig Muni, who works with the defensemen, was not behind the bench. The former Stanley Cup winning blue liner with the Oilers was in Winnipeg taking part in the Oilers/Jets outdoor alumni game on Saturday, which was part of the weekend long celebration that was connected to Edmonton and Winnipeg’s Heritage Classic outdoor game that was played Sunday. Captain Emily Pfalzer said the team can’t use Muni’s absence as an excuse. It’s simply on them to play better.
“I feel like we kind of break down for a couple minutes at a time,” Pfalzer said. “It’s just being clean the whole, entire game.”
Kelley Steadman had two goals and Lisa Chissen had two assists for Buffalo.
With the victory the Whale now has four points and leaps over the Beauts to take possession of second place. The Beauts (three points) drop to third, with the winless New York Riveters in last place. Defending Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride (4-0) remains in first place.
The NWHL will take a two week break as members of the league will be competing in the Four Nations Cup.
The Beauts will return to action on Saturday, Nov.12. When they host former Beaut Tatiana Rafter and the New York Riveters span class=”aBn” tabindex=”0″ data-term=”goog_1117447803″>3:30pm at HarborCenter.