BUFFALO, Oct. 9 – The Buffalo Beauts scored two goals in the first 1:22 of the third period and Kelley Steadman scored her third goal of the game with 9:53 remaining in the game to lift the Beauts to a 5-4 win over the Connecticut Whale in a National Women’s Hockey League contest Sunday night at the Harbor Center.
It was the season-opening game of the season for the Whale, who received a hat trick and four points from rookie Haley Skarupa. She became the first NWHL player to register a hat trick in her first NWHL contest.
Connecticut led 4-2 after two periods but Buffalo (1-1) limited the Whale to just six shots in the third period and survived a two-man advantage for 56 seconds with eight minutes left in regulation. Buffalo’s Sarah Casorso and Emily Pfalzer were called for penalties in a 30 second span but Buffalo’s defense kept Connecticut from tying the game.
Steadman scored off a Shiann Darkangelo assist with just 34 seconds gone in the third period to pull Buffalo with one goal. Darkangelo, who played for the Whale a year ago and had a team-leading 10 goals, signed with Buffalo as a free agent in the off season. She had two assists in the game.
Buffalo tied the game on a power play goal from Kourtney Kunichika less than a minute later. Steadman’s third goal from about 10 feet away with 9:53 left in the game gave the Beauts their first lead of the contest. Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin came off the bench and stopped all six Connecticut shots in the third period to earn the victory.
Skarupa, the rookie from Boston College, had a tremendous NWHL debut, registering the first hat trick in Connecticut Whale history. She scored her first goal just 1:44 into the game to give the Whale a 1-0 lead.
Skarupa had an assist on Kelly Babstock’s goal 1:45 into the second period for a 2-1 Connecticut lead and Skarupa scored to give the Whale a 3-1 lead midway through the second period. Skarupa scored on the power play off assists from Babstock and Jordan Brickner with 17 seconds left in the second period to give Connecticut a 4-2 lead after two periods.
Skarupa finished with four points (3 goals, 1 assist) while Babstock had a goal and two assists. Brickner also had two assists. The Whale blocked 10 shots, led by Shannon Doyle with three and Ivana Bilic with two. Connecticut goalie Shenae Lundberg stopped 20 of 25 shots and took the loss in net.
It was the third and final game of the NWHL’s kickoff weekend with three games at the Target Center. Defending league champion Boston beat Buffalo on Friday night, 4-1 and the Pride beat the New York Riveters on Saturday night in Buffalo, 6-3.
NOTES: Buffalo has now won three straight against the Whale, including the last two games in last March’s Isobel Cup semifinals. … This was the first of six straight road games to open the season for Connecticut. The Whale don’t play in their new home at the Northford Ice Arena in the Northford section of North Branford until Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. when they host Buffalo. Ten of the final 15 games of Connecticut’s 21-game schedule will be at home.
Buffalo 5, Connecticut 4
Connecticut (0-1) 1 3 0 — 4
Buffalo (1-1) 1 1 3 — 5
Connecticut 1, Haley Skarupa (Nicole Connery), 1:44; Buffalo 1, Megan Bozek (Shiann Darkangelo, Emily Janiga) 19:43; Penalties: Molly Engstrom (CT), hooking, 4:34; Kelley Steadman (Buff), hooking, 12:11
Connecticut 2, Kelly Babstock (Skarupa), 1:45; Connecticut 3, Skarupa (Babstock, Jordan Brickner), 11:45; Buffalo 2, Janiga (Emily Pfalzer), 18:10; Connecticut 4, Skarupa (Babstock, Brickner), 19:43 (pp); Penalties: Sam Faber (CT), tripping, 5:40; Cydney Roseler (CT), hooking, 17:54; Anne Schleper (Buff), interference, 18:10
Buffalo 3, Kelley Steadman (Darkangelo), 0:34; Buffalo 4, Kourtney Kunichika (Anne Schleper, Megan Bozek), 1:22 (pp); Buffalo 5, Steadman, 11:07; Penalties: Kelly Babstock (CT), hooking, 0:34; Devon Skeats (Buff), holding, 3:58; Sarah Casorso (Buff), 12:00; Emily Pfalzer (Buff), tripping, 12:27
Shots on goal: Connecticut 33 (10-17-6), Buffalo 25 (10-6-9)
Power play: Connecticut 1-5, Buffalo 2-4
Goalies: Connecticut: Shenae Lundberg (L, 0-1) 25 shots, 20 saves; Buffalo: Amanda Leveille 27 shots, 23 saves, Brianne McLaughlin (W, 1-0), 6 shots, 6 saves
W L OL Pts
Boston 2 0 0 4
Buffalo 1 1 0 2
Connecticut 0 1 0 0
New York 0 1 0 0
Boston 4, Buffalo 1
Boston 6, New York 4
Buffalo 5, Connecticut 4
Saturday, October 15
Buffalo at Boston, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 16
Connecticut at New York, 5 p.m.
Saturday, October 22
New York at Boston, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 23
Connecticut at Buffalo, 3:30 p.m.