The NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) opened last weekend for its fifth season with two games on the east coast. The Boston Pride traveled to Pro Skate Arena in Monmouth Junction, NJ to face off against the Metropolitan Riveters, while the Buffalo Beauts played against the Connecticut Whale at the Danbury Ice Arena in Danbury, CT.
At the Danbury Ice Arena, the Beauts / Whale had a starting time of 2:30pm on Saturday. The rink itself, built in 1999, can seat about 2000 fans (plus plenty of standing room), though there was not quite that many at the Whale’s 2019-20 home opener, but a good amount of excited fans nonetheless.
After warm-ups, the Western 12U Lady Colonials (another team calling the Danbury Ice Arena home) as well as a couple of the Jr NWHLers got to take the ice alongside the Whale for introductions. After the introductions were finished, the Mayor of Danbury, Mark Boughton, dropped the ceremonial puck.
The first period saw six penalties, with three alone given to Buffalo’s Taylor Accursi, but despite all the extra man advantages, only one goal was scored in the first (on a power play too) by Buffalo’s Lenka Curmova (her first career NWHL goal) and assisted by Marie-Jo Pelletier (her first career NWHL point) and Corinne Buie, giving the Beauts a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. Shots on goal was a meager 4-3 in favor of Connecticut.
The second period saw an increased shots on goal total with a decreased amount of penalties (14-8 Connecticut and only one penalty). Even with the increase in shots, the Whale scored the only goal (Grace Klienbach – her first career NWHL goal – with assists from Sarah Hughson – her first career NWHL point – and Elena Orlando – originally thought the assist came from Emma Vlasic, but the official scoring was changed after the game) to even the score at 1 a piece after 40 minutes of regulation.
The third period brought three more penalties, two to the Beauts at nearly the same time, giving the Whale a 5v3 advantage for almost two minutes. But much like for the rest of period, Buffalo’s goalie, Mariah Fujimagari, would not allow the puck to get past her. With about three minutes left in regulation, the Beauts’ Brooke Stacey broke away from the defense and claimed her first career NWHL goal (which also served as the game winner – assisted by Ashley Birdsall and Iveta Klimasova – both obtaining their first career points from the play) to put the Beauts up 2-1.
In a last minute effort, the Whale pulled their goalie to try and tie it up, but Buffalo’s Corinne Buie, with help from Taylor Accursi, had different ideas and put the puck in the back of the empty net to finalize the score of the game 3-1 Beauts. Shots on goal for the third period were twelve for the Whale and five for the Beauts, for a game total of 30-16 in favor of the Whale.
A few notes about the game from an inexperienced onlooker – both teams were fast, zipping across the ice, but the Beauts seemed to have more of a presence – almost always in the right place at the right time. They just couldn’t always execute when they needed to though. And despite the Whale’s overwhelming shots on goal totals, the Beauts were able to place their shots more effectively, giving them the edge and the win.
Another note – both teams had many new faces. Only three players from the Beauts and eight players from the Whale had played in the NWHL before this season. One of which was the Whale’s goalie, Sonjia Shelly, who I got to watch a few times at St. Lawrence University (the cross-town rival of Clarkson University) over the past couple of years.
I would also like to point out how awesome the Whale’s new uniforms look, especially with wave stripe down the pants as well as the waves on the bottom of the jersey and socks. I do agree with some critics though about the main logo being a similar color to the rest of the jersey. While I’m not sure at this point what color should replace the green of the inner ‘C’, it would be nice to see more contrast to make the logo stand out more. But overall, I like the new uniforms, 9 out of 10. I’m also loving the Year 5 NWHL logo on the right front shoulder. (The Beauts’ uniforms are cool too).
Below are some more photos from the game.
See all the photos from the game on my website here.
Note: If there is any information wrong in this article, please let me know at email@example.com or by messaging me on any of the social medias. I was going off of memory and what information I could find from The Ice Garden, NWHL Stats page, and the Cetacean Nation Twitter. All photos were taken by Schuyler Meyer.