Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Connecticut Whale win three in a row with third different goaltender

For the third consecutive game, the Connecticut Whale have opted to utilize a different goaltender between the pipes. Starting with Jaimie Leonoff in their inaugural game, followed by Chelsea Laden in the second match, Nicole Stock earned the start for the club. Once again, the result was victory as the Whale remain one of two undefeated teams in NWHL play.

The chance to stand between the pipes for the Whale brings Stock’s career full circle. During her juinior hockey career, she led the Connecticut Polar Bears to a national title. Competing for the NCAA’s Brown Bears under the tutelage of head coach Digit Murphy from 2005-09, Stock appeared in 91 games, registering over 3000 career saves and a .921 save percentage.

Among her highlights at Brown, she set a program record with 66 saves in one game against Mercyhurst in late January 2008. As a freshman, she earned a shutout win against Dartmouth, eliminating them from the postseason. Prior to signing with the Whale, Stock was a coach at Choate Rosemary Hall, where she was also a four-year letter winner during her academic years.
Competing on the road against the New York Riveters at Brooklyn’s Aviator Sport and Recreation Center, Stock did not allow one goal after one period of play as she was looking for the chance to become the first goalie in league history to log a shutout.

The Whale would help her cause as Alyssa Wohlfeiler capitalized on a power play opportunity. With Lyudmila Belyakova, the first European player to log a point in CWHL play, serving a hooking penalty, the Whale jumped out to a 1-0 advantage.

Power plays remained a theme in the second period as the Riveters tied the game on a 5-3 opportunity with Kelli Stack (called for tripping) and Sam Faber (serving a hooking call) in the penalty box. Meghan Fardelmann set up blueliner Ashley Johnston’s first career goal with the Riveters, breaking Stock’s shutout bid.
Throughout the second period, the Whale struggled to assemble an offensive attack as the Riveters outshot them by an 8-3 margin. With the Brooklyn fans showing strong support, the opportunity for an upset seemed possible, as the Riveters were hoping to establish a grip on third place in the Founders Division.

In the third period, the Whale regrouped and quickly regained the lead. Gabie Figueroa was called for high sticking at 17:58, allowing the Whale their first power play of the period. Kaleigh Fratkin, the first Canadian signed to an NWHL contract, took advantage, scoring 23 seconds into the power play.

Less than a minute later, Fratkin would be called for cross checking, resulting in the Riveters gaining a power play opportunity. Despite their best efforts, the Riveters could not solve Stock as the Whale preserved their 2-1 lead. 

For the remainder of the third, Riveters goaltender Nana Fujimoto played valiantly as she worked tirelessly to keep her team in the game. Unfortunately, the Riveters struggled on offense, as the Brooklyn fans were eager to see their team score.

With just 51 seconds remaining in the game, a goal was scored, but it would belong to the visiting team. Kelly Babstock, the first Canadian to score an NWHL goal, added to the Whale’s lead, placing the game out of reach for the Riveters. Prevailing by a 3-1 tally, Stock made 23 saves on 24 shots in her NWHL debut, while Fujimoto 17 saves on 20 shots, registering her third straight loss

Outshooting the home team by a 10-7 margin in the third, the Whale maintained their first place tie with the Boston Pride, while the Riveters shall have to wait for their first win in franchise history. Kaleigh Fratkin would emerge with the First Star of the Game nod, while teammate Nicole Stock garnered the game’s Second Star. Riveters blueliner Ashley Johnston gained the Third Star of the Game for her offensive performance.

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