(Photo: Melissa Burgess)
Two weeks into the regular season, the Metropolitan Riveters are the lone undefeated team in the NWHL. Both the Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale are 1-1 on the season, while the Boston Pride have struggled to find a win, going 0-2 in their first pair of games.
All four teams were in action on Saturday, with the Whale visiting the Pride and capturing a narrow 3-2 victory. The Beauts hosted the Riveters for a special game in Rochester, NY, a rough, physical matchup that ended with Metropolitan winning 6-2.
Beauts vs. Riveters
Special teams were critical, as six of the eight goals scored came either on the power play or shorthanded in this game. Sixty-four penalty minutes were handed out between the two teams, including 46 to Buffalo.
The Beauts found themselves on the power play early on, but it would be Metropolitan striking first, shorthanded, on a goal by Alexa Gruschow. On that same penalty, Beauts captain Corinne Buie tied the game, and the teams skated off tied at one after twenty minutes.
The Riveters opened the second period on the power play and capitalized as Miye D'Oench made it 2-1. The physical play continued with several near-brawls and many more penalties -- and more goals.
Gruschow made it 3-1 and just two and a half minutes later, Beauts netminder Amanda Leveille was unable to recover after being interfered with, and Kelsey Koelzer made it a 4-1 game.
Buffalo was credited with just four shots in the second period. The Riveters managed 17 shots on goal in that same frame.
Early in the third, the Beauts found themselves on the 5-on-3 power play and capitalized with a goal by Taylor Accursi, making it 4-2.
Just over halfway through the period, tensions toppled over once again and the game seemed to spiral out of control. In the last eight minutes of play, twelve penalties were handed out -- eight to Buffalo, including two game misconducts and a 10-minute misconduct.
After Lisa Chesson was called for hooking and given a 10-minute misconduct, the Beauts found themselves playing 3-on-5 thanks to a bench minor for unsportmanslike conduct. The Riveters got Leveille on one side of the net, leaving the other side open for their fifth goal.
Later in the period, a pile-up in the corner led to a multitude of penalties. Even more calls came with less than three minutes remaining in the game, including to Buffalo's Jess Jones for a facemask violation after she pulled off Jenny Ryan's helmet.
The Riveters went up 6-2 on Koelzer's second of the night during 3-on-3 action. Metropolitan finished out the game with a 34-14 edge in shots on goal.
Beauts co-head coach Craig Muni was clearly unhappy with the number of penalties called on his team:
"All we ask for is a fair chance to play and compete, and today wasn't one of them... I don't mind the physical play at all. But if it's gonna be physical, call it both ways."
Pride vs. Whale
For the first time in NWHL history, the Boston Pride have started off the season with an 0-2 record. Of course, they've got quite a different team this year, missing players like Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, and Gigi Marvin.
After dropping their first game to the Riveters, Boston started off Saturday's game on a positive footing, taking a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Heather Schwarz under three minutes in.
They'd hold onto that lead for nearly 40 minutes of play, until the Whale tied it with just 28 seconds left in the second period on the power play.
With 2:55 remaining in the middle frame, the Pride found themselves down a defender as Paige Harrington was served a five-minute major and a game misconduct for body checking after a collision with Connecticut's Sam Faber. Faber appeared to be injured on the play as both skaters went down, but she did return and finished the game.
Jamie Goldsmith scored on the resulting power play for the Whale to even the game, potting her first NWHL goal.
Connecticut then took a 2-1 lead less than halfway into the third period thanks to Emily Fluke's first NWHL goal on a wraparound play. Both Goldsmith and Fluke are rookies this season in the NWHL.
As it turns out, Fluke's goal would be the game-winner. The Whale would maintain that lead for the remainder of the third period and grab two points from the Pride with the 2-1 victory. Brittany Ott had 23 saves for the Pride, while Sydney Rossman saved 28 of 29 shots faced.
The win marked Rossman's first professional victory.
News & Notes
- One thing to watch for over the next few days: suspensions or supplemental discipline. Jess Jones, Sarah Casorso, and Paige Harrington all got game misconducts and could face further discipline from the league.
- The NWHL appears to have changed its officiating system this season, going with one referee and two linesmen. Last season, they used two refs and two linesmen.
- The Riveters vs. Beauts game in Rochester was one of two announced off-site games in the NWHL this season. Buffalo and Connecticut will play a game in Pittsburgh later this season.
All four teams return to action on Saturday, November 11.
The Whale host the Riveters at Terry Conners Ice Rink for a 7:00 PM Eastern puck drop, looking to end Metropolitan's perfect season. That game will be the Twitter Game of the Week.
Buffalo will host the Boston Pride in their home opener at HARBORCENTER for an 8:00 PM Eastern puck drop. The Beauts will officially raise their Isobel Cup championship banner prior to the game.