Brampton comes into this game at the bottom of the league, despite having lost considerably fewer of their players than Boston or Montreal. Boston’s near the bottom of the league, with 12 points coming into the game. The last game I watched, they were second in the league. How the tables do turn in a league as young as this! I’ll fetch my cane.
Brampton gets a power play early, after pressing Boston in their zone. Boston has a shorthanded opportunity from Dempsey, but Brampton scores by committee soon after the power play expires, at 4:34, with the goal being credited to Boudreau. Overall, Boston’s defense is somewhat lacking early on.
This is one of just a handful of games I’ve seen Brampton in, and they’re interesting to watch. They’re not particularly flashy, and they definitely play a very group-oriented game, but they gain the zone with efficiency, keeping the game out of the neutral zone for the most part.
Brampton gets another power play on a Duggan penalty. Nothing much arises from it, and Boston gets some momentum back in the last half of the first, getting an odd man rush and spending some time in Brampton’s zone. For all that they have a couple scoring opportunities, they’re pretty hesitant with the puck, and no one’s putting pucks on the net with any particular degree of accuracy. Brampton is definitely the more dynamic team so far, even as Boston starts getting a bit of their own back.
The pace picks up as the game goes on, with more board battles and way more SOG in the last five minutes of the first period. With just over 3 minutes left, Boston rushes into Brampton’s zone, but they don’t manage to sustain any pressure. Dempsey nearly manages to pass for a tap-in, but the puck misses its target, and Brampton carries it back into Boston’s zone. Dempsey is fun to watch, dynamic and decisive.
At 17:33 in the first, the Blades get a power play. For all that they’re the worse team coming into this game, their power play involves a lot more shooting than Brampton’s, and they make it difficult for Brampton to clear. At the end, though, they come up empty.
Play in the second is a lot more even, with Boston getting a lot of chances early. But at 11:26 in the second, Bramptson scores again, on the power play, capitalizing on a total defensive breakdown by Boston. Boston’s chasing the puck after that, nearly giving up another goal just a couple minutes later.
The announcers give some time to talking about how many players Boston’s lost, which is kind of an obvious thing to talk about, even if the coaches are refraining from whining about it.
Late in the second, van der Bliek finally has some work, but Boston’s transition game bites them in the ass, and Brampton gets their third goal late from Skirrow. Boston’s getting more daring as the game goes on, but it’s not a coincidence that Brampton’s scored twice in the second period; for all that Boston is getting more creative, they’re also playing a riskier game. Brampton is more together overall; their goaltender is showing up, their defense is keeping Boston from spending a lot of time in their zone, and their neutral zone play is miles above Boston’s.
Boston narrows Brampton’s lead to 2 on a sweet play early in the third, driven by a pass from Dempsey. Suddenly I’m more engaged in the game – especially since it was a power play goal. A lot of women’s hockey announcers talk about not wanting games to be decided by special teams (code for “let the girls play”, usually), but special teams are interesting to me because they really highlight the way women’s hockey is developing and the advancement of actual, coherent systems within the CWHL.
Brampton’s still up by 2, but they hand the Blades two power plays in rapid succession. They’re not the most disciplined team in the world. And Boston makes them pay – Dempsey scores from the side of the goal, tapping in a pass from the blue line. For a hot minute it looks like the Blades might tie it up, but Brampton scores almost immediately after winning a faceoff in Boston’s zone. Ott is working her ass off, but there’s not a lot you can do if you’re being screened by 3 Brampton players.
Boston gets a nice scrum going in front of Brampton’s goal, but the play is whistled dead, even as Boston tries to get another shot on van der Bliek. Boston’s lost the momentum as easily as they gained it; after that play being whistled dead, Buesser takes a penalty, putting Brampton on the power play, and taking herself out of the game for the remainder of the third.
An insane play midway through the third, with a breakaway by Boston’s Cottrell, catching van der Bliek out of the net, diving to the ice, and nearly poking it in. Unfortunately, the puck didn’t go, because Brampton has defense or something. They stay up by 2 with 9 minutes to go.
Brampton hands Boston a power play and then a 5-on-3, the latter call being a check from behind. And then Brampton takes another penalty – in an effort to make things more interesting for themselves? Who knows. But people in the audience are heckling the refs, which is actually kind of refreshing.
In the last minute of the third, Boston crashes the net and scores. van der Bliek does her best, but there just aren’t enough Brampton players on the ice to stop Boston from capitalizing. The pace of this game has swung wildly between teams, and between being low-key and intense, so part of me is glad when there’s a time-out with 43 seconds to go.
In the end, though, Brampton pulls out a win, 4-3. – but not before van der Bliek gets an unsportsmanlike penalty. You go, angry rookie goalie. You go.