Photo By Troy Parla
After rolling to a 7-0-0 start to the season, and ten of their players heading to Florida to face-off against the US National Team in a few days, it could have been easy for the Metropolitan Riveters to look past their home game with the Connecticut Whale.
That wasn’t the case as the Rivs rolled to a 6-1 victory over the visitors, powered by four third period goals and 23 saves from Katie Fitzgerald.
The Riveters didn’t look rusty at all in their first game in almost a month, coming at the Whale in waves of offense early and often during the first period. If not for the strong early efforts of Sydney Rossman in net for Connecticut the deficit could have been greater.
Rossman held strong at key moments who was under siege during three Riveters power plays in the opening twenty minutes. One of Rossman’s biggest stops came after a PK had expired as she denied Harrison Browne on the edge of the crease following a pass from Kelly Nash at the tail end of a 2-on-1.
Just over a minute later Rivs’ captain Ashley Johnston opened the scoring when her point shot weaved through bodies and just eluded the reach of Rossman.
Of the Whale’s five first period shots on goal, three of them came in the final minutes in addition to a shot by Shannon Doyle that rang off the post after Fitzgerald denied Kelly Babstock in close during 4-on-4 play.
Connecticut carried the momentum from the end of the opening period and two minutes after Rossman made a save on Alexa Gruschow’s shot from the slot, the Whale found the equalizing goal. Amanda Boulier scored a power play marker at 4:08 after a scramble in front of Fitzgerald’s crease.
Once the game was tied, the Riveters put the pressure on Connecticut again. Each time Rossman stood tall, highlighted at the end of that stretch by consecutive saves on Madison Packer at the 15:30 and 16:40 marks.
Connecticut’s goalie wasn’t so lucky the following time, as Packer soared over the blue line as she centered a pass that was deflected up and over Rossman’s shoulder by Tatiana Rafter.
Early in the third the Whale continued to make trips to the penalty box and the Riveters made them pay when Courtney Burke scored on a blue line blast to increase the lead to 3-1. Rossman was totally screened by Rebecca Russo on the scoring play.
Four minutes later the Rivs scored their fourth goal of the game when Bray Ketchum found the rebound of Kelsey Koelzer’s long shot. The Riveters have scored at least four goals in all eight games this season.
Russo would add to the scoring with the Rivs’ fifth goal 12:09 into the final frame, taking a pass from Erika Lawler and wiring a shot past Rossman, who ended up getting the rest of the game off. Rafter added her second of the game at 17:55, from Packer again, to extend the lead to 6-1 and the game’s final margin.
The Riveters return to play on January 20 with the first part of a home and home against Boston. The Whale will host the Buffalo Beauts in Pittsburgh on January 14.