Team White prevailed in the first-ever EWSHL game on Thursday night in Hudson. Jessica Strack picked up the victory in her first EWSHL outing, while Emily Field redirected the overtime winner just 21 seconds into the extra frame.
It had been over three months since the last time organized hockey took place in North America. On this night, all felt right at Cyclones Arena as Team White and Team Red faced off. Katie Burt got the start for Team Red, playing the full game, while Jetta Rackleff got the nod for Team White.
Team White jumped out to an early lead. UNH defender Maddie Truax, who will play her senior season in the fall, fired a shot from the right point through traffic that fooled Burt. The first goal in EWSHL history came just 2:23 into the game. Danielle Doherty, a former Boston College star, picked up the league’s first assist on the goal.
Team White controlled the pace for most of the first half, but could not add an insurance marker against the veteran Burt. Team Red got the first powerplay in league history with just under ten minutes remaining in the half, but could not solve Rackleff. Rackleff, who played in the PWHPA in 2019-20, was locked in during her 25 minutes of action on Thursday. She pitched a shutout as Team White led it 1-0 after 25 minutes.
In the second half, the floodgates opened. Team Red finally broke through at 1:45, as Erin Kickham knocked home a rebound to even the game at one. Megan Myers, another PWHPA veteran, collected the lone assist on the goal. Rebounds were the story in the second half for Team Red. Just 34 second later, at 2:19, Kelly Browne collected a rebound and buried it behind Strack to give Team Red a 2-1 advantage, completely turning the tide.
Team Red poured on the pressure, and eventually made it 3-1 at 5:55 when Kickham fired home her second goal of the hockey game. With the goals going in and the pressure mounting, Team Red appeared to be in complete control in the second half.
It did not last.
Team White buckled down and got back to basics, firing pucks on Burt and maintaining possession in the offensive zone. First overall pick in the NWHL Draft Sammy Davis had two glorious looks from the slot, but was denied by the glove of Burt. Finally, at 11:45, Team White struck. Kate Annese walked into the slot and wired a wrist-shot over the glove of Burt to get Team White within one.
With blood in the water, the pressure continued. This time it was Paige Voight, who found Meghan Turner at the side of the goal. Turner fired a shot onto Burt that was denied, but trickled in after it hit a body in front at 19:05 to even the game at three.
The seesaw continued just 1:54 later. Olivia Finocchiaro collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and appeared to have a one-on-one moving into the Team White zone. Two defenders came back and forced a one-on-three, giving Finocchiaro no other option but to fire a shot from a bad angle onto goal. Strack was fooled by the decision, however, and the puck slipped through to give Team Red a 4-3 lead.
Team White, after all the work, was trailing yet again late in the game. It didn’t matter. They continued to push in the offensive zone, and evened the hockey game for a second time in the half at 22:23. Emily Field received a pass from Madison Cardaci and ripped a shot over the glove of Burt that popped the water bottle off the net.
In the final minute, Sammy Davis collected a puck in the offensive zone and was hauled down by St. Lawrence defender Skylar Podvey. That drew the first powerplay of the game for Team White, which ended up being the death blow. Team White could not set up in the zone in the final minute of regulation, but started overtime on a four-on-three.
Davis collected the puck in the high slot and fired a wrist-shot that was deflected by Field in front just 21 seconds in on the powerplay. Field’s second of the night gave Team White the 5-4 overtime victory in a highly competitive game at Cyclones Arena.
Game two goes next Thursday, June 25th, at 6:30 pm. Game two, and all future games, will air LIVE!