The Metropolitan Riveters headed into the weekend looking for a sweep to sit at .500 before the All-Star break. Instead, they earned only three points, taking the Whale to an eight-round shootout on Saturday and losing. Then taking the game on Sunday.
A current look at the standings at the All-Star break has the Riveters in third place with 18 points, trailing Minnesota by ten and leading Buffalo by only five. The only thing certain at this point is that Boston has clinched first place, only having lost one game this season to the Whitecaps on Saturday.
For the Riveters remaining five games, their focus should be to pull away from the Beauts and make sure they don’t land in fourth place where they would have to participate in a play-in game against the last-place team (likely the Whale) for the playoffs.
Considering four of their five games will be against Buffalo, this is crucial. For what it’s worth, these two teams also lead the league in penalty minutes, with a combined 486 on the season, which overwhelms the other three teams by a long shot.
On Saturday, the scoring got started by the Whale’s Emma Vlasic just two minutes into the game. Kate Leary got the Riveters on the board just five minutes later. Then there wasn’t a score until the eighth round of a shootout when Sarah Schwenzfeier won it for the Whale.
The Riveters ended the game with 35 shots on goal, while the Whale had 29. It was truly a battle of the goalies and the defense. All the team could do was try to regroup for Sunday and hope for a split.
While the Riveters did win Sunday with big goals from their defense, it did come with a bit of a worry, as starting goalie Sam Walther was taken out of the game after a bad collision and a weird injury. There has been no comment on her status yet, but she was seen on crutches during the game and was sent for an MRI.
The Riveters’ other goalie, Dana DeMartino, came in about halfway through the first period. She let up two goals and had 15 saves in 48 minutes. In the event that DeMartino becomes the starter if Walther is out long term, the Riveters do not have any other rostered goalies or an emergency backup goalie. With a little breathing room because of the All-Star break, the Rivs should be looking to sign someone else to fill that role.
Mallory Rushton had two assists on the weekend, as well as defender Leila Kilduff getting her first goal. The depth of the roster is beginning to show itself, as players have gelled a little better over time. Vlasic and Schwenzfeier were Sunday’s scorers for Connecticut, proving they are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to playing the Riveters.
At the All-Star break, the top line of Packer, Leary, and Cornine are all tied at 12 goals on the season and will take that skill to Boston to play for Team Packer in the All-Star game. Outside of that, there is only one player on the team yet to record at least one point. Once again, the team mostly comprised of rookies is coming together more now into the second half of the season.
They won’t play together again until Feb. 15, when they host the Buffalo Beauts for a two-game series. While they haven’t lost to Buffalo yet, the Riveters’ main concern for the break needs to be finding another goalie to add to their roster.
The All-Star Game will take place at Warrior Ice Arena, home to the Boston Pride, Feb. 8-9, including a Skills Competition and a two-period game. They will both be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel.