Sam Walther Leads Riveters to Win in Goalie Duel Against Whale
By Dan Rice
In a game where goals were hard to come by, the Metropolitan Riveters (2-5-0) picked up their second win of the season in a hard-fought 2-1 win in Danbury against the winless Connecticut Whale (0-8-1). Madison Packer and Brooke Baker provided all of the offense the Rivs would need as Sam Walther returned to Connecticut and beat her former club with 33 saves. Her only blemish was Emma Vlasic’s late third-period goal during a power play with the goalie pulled.
Packer got the scoring started early in the game with her fourth goal of the season, converting a nice pass from linemate Kate Leary just 3:49 into the opening period. Leary’s assist gives her at least a point (4 goals, 4 assists) in every game she has played in this season.
Following Packer’s goal, it became a special teams game as both penalty kill units went to work early and often. The Riveters finished the game 8-for-9 on the PK while the Whale were a perfect 5-for-5. Walther and Sonjia Shelly traded saves as the game wore on and the Rivs’ PK unit was dominant at times with Packer and Cailey Hutchison often controlling the puck more than their opponents.
Baker extended the Riveters’ lead to 2-0 when she netted her first pro goal at 4:15 of the third period. With three Whale defenders focused on Kendall Cornine, Baker found herself wide open in front of Shelly’s crease and she was able to slip a shot past her after receiving a brilliant pass from Cornine.
The Rivs penalty kill was perfect until Vlasic netted her third goal of the season with 2:26 left in regulation. Connecticut played most of the final three minutes with their goalie on the bench for an extra attacker but Walther was able to stop the shots that got through her defense and hold on to the one-goal lead.
Game Notes: Shelly finished with 23 saves. Hutchison had an assist on Packer’s goal and now has a two-game assist/point streak. Vlasic led all players with seven shots on goal and Packer led the Riveters with five. Kayla Meneghin had an assist on the lone Whale goal and now has a five-game point streak. Vlasic was on fire in the face-off circle, winning 21 of the 29 she took. Cornine’s assist was the first of her NWHL career. Connecticut's last win was Dec. 2, 2018.
My 3-Stars of the Game
1) Sam Walther (Rivs): 33 saves, Win (2)
2) Madison Packer (Rivs): goal (4), 5 SOG
3) Brooke Baker (Rivs): GWG while SH
The Riveters will be back home on Saturday to host the Boston Pride. Tickets for that game are available at riveters.nwhl.zone/tickets. All Riveters and Whale games this season can be watched on twitch.tv/nwhl and twitch.tv/nwhl2.
Photo Credit: Schuyler Meyer