Alex Carpenter inspires Pride to semi-final rout over Whale – Isobel Cup semi final 1 recap

Two goals and three assists from Alex Carpenter helped the Boston Pride comfortably see off the Connecticut Whale, winning 8-2 in the first Isobel Cup semi-final.Brittany Ott made 24 saves against a persistent but often uninspiring Whale offence, while Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight picked up four points each in a truly frightening display of offensive prowess from the Pride.

Missing Shannon Doyle, and as such only rolling 5 defenders, the Whale often left Nicole Stock out to dry, as she performed better than her .771 save percentage suggests. The Pride were just deadly tonight.

One

The game started fairly evenly, with both sides getting good scoring chances, particularly Kelli Stack of the Whale, who drew  Ott away from her net but couldn’t convert just 57 seconds in.

A Pride power-play seemed to change the course of the game, though. Even though the Whale killed Kelly Babstock’s tripping penalty, getting a couple of chances in to boot, the game changed almost instantly. The Whale couldn’t get any sort of useful possession in the Pride’s end, while Stock was being peppered at the other end.

The pressure soon paid dividends, as Carpenter gave the Pride the lead at 10:26 , banking a shot off the back of Stock from behind the Whale goal, with Knight claiming an assist.

Unrelenting, Carpenter doubled the Pride’s lead, poking a rebound from Blake Bolden’s wing shot past Stock at 15:06 shortly after a wide effort by Knight was recovered, Decker getting the secondary assist.

The Whale finally managed to get a couple of decent efforts in the last minute of the period, but they couldn’t beat Ott, and the Pride took a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Shots were 13-9 to the Pride, but they had so much more of the puck than that suggests.

Two

The second period started much the way the first did, Ott making a good save up high from Zoe Hickel in the best of the early attempts.

It didn’t take long for the Pride to extend their lead though. Lexi Bender was left completely alone in the slot to make it 3-0 from a feed by Carpenter, her third point of the evening.

The third goal going in seemed to spark the Whale into new life, though. Ott made some great saves from Kaliya Johnson, Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno in quick succession.

The Whale would finally make the pressure count half-way through the second. After some good sustained pressure saw Rachel Llanes take a holding penalty, and an awkward collision at the blue line left Decker hurt, Trivigno put away a rebound from a Skarupa shot to make it 3-1 at 29:26, Stack getting the secondary assist on the goal.

Decker would return to the game shortly afterwards – there was no malice to the incident at all, but it did seem to shake her up a little.

The three goal lead would be restored soon afterwards though. A lovely pass across the slot from Carpenter found Decker in acres of space, and she made no mistake to make it 4-1, with Knight getting her second point of the night with an assist at 33:07.

Soon after, it was five. Meghan Duggan and Jillian Dempsey found themselves on a 2-on-1, and Duggan’s pass was diverted beyond Stock by Dempsey at 35:06, and it was beginning to look like a rout.

The Whale turned up the pressure again, but were met by a stone-wall netminder in Ott, who made some stunning saves from Stack and Skarupa late in the period. Shots ended 13-10 to the Pride.

Three

The Whale started the third the right way, striking back with a goal from Stack. Her shot, after a charge down the right wing, looked like it was stopped by Ott, but it snuck past at 41:06 to bring them back to within three.

That wouldn’t last long though, as the four-goal lead was quickly restored. Gigi Marvin’s shot on the powerplay, with Skarupa off for body checking, hit Stock on the shoulder and ended up behind her at 42:48. 6-2 Pride, and an assist to Blake Bolden.

Soon, it was seven. Knight put away a rebound from a Decker shot, with Stock out of position, after some good zone pressure by the Pride at 45:21.

Not to say the Whale weren’t giving it back. Ott was still being forced to make saves, and was thankful of the crossbar on one effort straight from a faceoff, and later on a Whale powerplay. It was, however, mostly one-way traffic, as the Pride showed no signs of relenting.

That pressure would pay off with the Pride’s eighth. Decker’s backhand effort hit Stock’s stick and fell nicely for Knight to put it away for her second of the night, Carpenter registering her third assist at 53:41.

The night ended badly for the Whale, with Trivigno taking a game misconduct for a big behind-the-net hit that just seemed unnecessary.

Shots ended 9-7 to the Pride on the period, 35-26 overall.

Player of the game

Alex Carpenter looked like she was going to score a hatful tonight, but she turned provider in the final two periods. If she plays anywhere close to that on Sunday, the Pride will walk over their opposition.

Gamebreaker

Brianna Decker’s first of the night, not long after the Whale finally got themselves on the board, really killed the game off. Had Connecticut got one more back, it could have been a bit more interesting, but as they have a habit of doing, the Pride flipped the switch and made it look easy.

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