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Despite two goals from Stack, Buffalo beats Connecticut in final home game

Connecticut’s Kelli Stack had a pair of third period goals but it wasn’t enough as Buffalo beat the Whale, 4-3 in the regular season finale Sunday in North Branford.

NORTH BRANFORD, March 12—Connecticut’s Kelli Stack had two goals in the third period but former Whale forward Shiann Darkangelo scored with 4:37 left in the game to lift the Buffalo Beauts to a 4-3 victory over the Connecticut Whale in National Women’s Hockey League play on Sunday.

It was the final regular season game of the season for both teams. With the win, Buffalo (6-10-1) clinches third place and will face the New York Riveters in a one-game playoff semifinal Friday night in Newark, N.J.

The Whale (5-12-1) lost for the ninth time in the last 10 games and will face the defending NWHL champion Boston Pride (16-1) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Warrior Arena in Boston in the other semifinal contest. The NWHL final will be Sunday, March 19 at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass.

Not only did New York hand Boston their first loss of the season in a 3-2 victory in Newark but the Riveters snapped Boston’s league record 26-game winning streak. Madison Packer scored from an impossible angle with 17:03 left in the third period. Riveter goalie Katie Fitzgerald made 44 saves to secure the upset win.

Connecticut was looking to build momentum and win a second straight game for the first time since December. The Whale was 4-4 at one point this season.

Connecticut’s Kelly Babstock gave the Whale a quick 1-0 lead, scoring just 20 seconds into the game. But Buffalo took a 3-1 lead after two periods.

Stack cut the Buffalo lead to one with 4:02 gone in the third period. She carried the puck down the right side of the ice, beat a Buffalo defender and carried the puck across the crease. She slipped and off her knees and she fired the puck past Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin and into the net.

About four minutes later, Stack tied the game at 4-4. Meagan Mangene’s shot bounced off the pad of McLaughlin and found its way to Stack who backhanded the puck into the net with 11:19 left in the third period.

For Stack, it was her team-leading 12th goal of the season.

But Darkangelo ripped her seventh goal of the season past Connecticut goalie Shenae Lundberg with 4:37 to give the Beauts the lead for good. It was Darkangelo’s second goal of the game.

NOTES: Stack and rookie forward Haley Skarupa (11 goals, 10 assists) were recently named to the U.S. team that will compete at the World Championships in Plymouth, Michigan on March 31 through April 7.

National Women’s Hockey League
2016-17 final standings

Boston 16-1 32 73 29
New York 8-7-3 19 55 58
Buffalo 6-10-1 13 44 68
Connecticut 5-12-1 11 60 77

Sunday’s results
Buffalo 4, Connecticut 3
New York 3, Boston 2
Regular season complete

Isobel Cup playoffs
Thursday’s semifinal
Connecticut at Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Friday’s semifinal
Buffalo at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday’s championship
Two semifinal winners at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, MA, 6

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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