What’s it gonna take to beat the Whitecaps?
Lee Stecklein scored the game-winner with 1:18 left in regulation as the Minnesota Whitecaps topped the Buffalo Beauts 2-1 in NWHL action that was played at KeyBank Center, Saturday afternoon.
It marks the third win of the season the expansion Whitecaps (7-2) have posted against the Beauts as they remain in first place.”I don’t know if it’s frustration,” Beauts forward Maddie Elia said. “I feel losing three to them just kinda motivates us. We don’t wanna lose four in a row. So coming back (Sunday) strong, kinda building off of today and the last two times we played them. Tomorrow we come out hard so we don’t let a fourth loss happen.”
The Beauts (4-4) drew first blood when Blake Bolden scored a short-handed goal in the first period. Corinne Buie and Julianna Iafallo picked up the assists.Kendall Coyne-Schofield tied the game when she went five-hole on Beauts goalie Shannon Szabados. Stecklein danced around a Beaut defender and beat Szabados top corner on her game-winner.
As a whole the Beauts created plenty of scoring chances as they outshot Minnesota 34-27. But they weren’t able to jump on enough rebounds to bang the puck home.”I think we just gotta keep getting more shots to the net. Shoot more in tight and get those rebounds they were out there and we were close a few times,” Hayley Scamurra said.”We just need to hammer it home and be mindful defensively.”
The game marked the first time behind the bench for new head coach Cody McCormick. McCormick was officially hired on Dec.7, but was unable to coach the Beauts game the following day due to a prior commitment. McCormick said given how players have had a lot thrown at them in the last few practices in terms of learning new systems and getting to know him better he thought the girls put forth a quality effort.”I thought the effort was tremendous. I think they realized that we had our chances,” McCormick said. “We had some goalmouth scrambles that didn’t go our way.”
With all three games against the Whitecaps being decided by one goal the Beauts know they don’t have to make any drastic changes to beat Minnesota. It’s more about fine tuning certain aspects. Like staying out of the penalty box so they can play to their strength of 5-on-5 hockey. Saturday the Beauts took six penalties which caused them to lose some momentum.
While the final score obviously wasn’t the outcome the Beauts were looking for, they were excited for the chance to play on the ice at KeyBank Center. It was viewed as yet another opportunity to connect with the hockey fan base and spread the word of the team.”It was awesome!” Shannon Szabados said with a smile. “It was a lot of fun. It’s nice to see the Beauts blue out there.”
The NWHL does not release official attendance numbers there was a sizable crowd in the lower bowl behind the two benches.”I thought it was great,” Scamurra said. “It really filled out and it was really fun to play on the big rink. We had a good time.”Former Beaut Amanda Leveille made 33 saves to pick up the win.
The two teams lock up again Sunday at HarborCenter with a 1:30pm puck drop.