The Metropolitan Riveters split their last series of the regular season, as they hosted the Buffalo Beauts one last time. The Riveters took game one 5-2 while falling on Sunday 3-1. The Beauts were debuting two newly signed players in their starting goalie Lea-Kristine Demers and Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who were the second and first stars of Sunday’s game respectively.
Demers had a 72-save weekend in her first two games and can take a win from Sunday with her into Friday night’s play-in game the Beauts, who will play against the Whale to earn the last spot into the playoff bracket.
The Riveters also played strong on Saturday with a lot to prove with a full, uninjured roster for the first time all season. Kate Leary and Sam Walther had phenomenal performances, despite a loss, and all Riveters’ defenders were in the lineup, which is something we haven’t seen in a while. Newcomers Haley Frade and Jayne Lewis earned their keep, as Lewis was the first star of Saturday’s game with three points on the day.
While these games didn’t matter for the standings, there is always bragging rights to be earned between these two teams that have been dubbed the league’s first rivalry. The teams, who are usually eager to get chippy, played very smart and clean, given that the main goal was likely to get the newly-signed players substantial playing time and to avoid injury for the playoffs.
There wasn’t even a penalty given the entire first period of play, and only fourteen minutes served across both teams the entire first game. All goals scored in game one were even strength, and despite the Riveters scoring five goals, all goals were by a different player. Baker and Kilduff each claimed one, which proves they are remaining hot from their late blooms in the league.
Madison Packer was able to nab one, after apparently promising her now pregnant wife a goal that evening. Kendall Cornine, who was the fastest NWHL skater to 10 goals this season and hadn’t scored since January 11, was able to get an empty-netter at the end of the game. The star of the show, however, was Jayne Lewis, who was playing in her first NWHL game ever and was able to get an early goal and two assists.
Sunday went a little different for both teams. With no scoring in the first period, tensions were heightened. Ultimately, it was the Beauts who were able to get two quick ones, with goals from Gehen and Buie. Kate Leary was able to get one back for the Rivs, but after going down 5-on-3, the Beauts sealed the deal with a power play goal by Grant-Mentis.
The Riveters fell into an old trap late in the game and took a lot of penalties. That is surely not the way they wanted to end their season. On the day they served sixteen penalty minutes, including one double minor. Twelve of those minutes were served in the third period. It’s a tale as old as time, but if the Riveters want to win, they need to be a lot more disciplined and stay out of the box.
The most important news of the weekend, however, is that Sam Walther reportedly felt no pain during her 52-shot weekend and was ready to go for the playoffs.
The Riveters will travel to Minnesota to play the Whitecaps in a semi-final match on March 8, at 1:30 pm EST, followed by the Boston Pride hosting whichever team wins the play-in game at 2:30 that day.
The winner of both of those games will be headed to the Isobel Cup Final.
All of these games can be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel.