PHOTO BY TROY PARLA
In the regular season finale for both teams, the Metropolitan Riveters clinched a home playoff date with a 4-3 shootout win over the Buffalo Beauts in a rematch of last year’s Isobel Cup Final. Miye D'Oench sealed the win with a goal in the shootout and Katie Fitzgerald stopped three of the four shooters she faced in the tiebreaker, in addition to the 40 saves she made in the game.
The Riveters will host the Connecticut Whale at 7 PM ET on Thursday at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House with the winner moving on to face the Minnesota Whitecaps. The Beauts will host the Boston Pride in a rematch of last season’s semifinal at 7:30 PM ET on Saturday, March 9. Tickets for the Beauts semifinal go on sale Monday at 10 AM ET, while tickets for the play-in game will be available Monday at noon ET.
“We won as a team today,” said Riveters forward Rebecca Russo. “We were all together, 100 percent. We’re going to play Thursday against Connecticut. We’re going to win that game and go to Minnesota.”
Just 22 seconds into the game Corinne Buie scored her second goal in as many days, snapping a wrist shot past Fitzgerald. For Buie, it was just her third goal of the season and for the Riveters it was not the start they were looking for. But Fitzgerald shrugged off the early Beauts tally and finished the period with 14 saves, looking like the old Fitzy who backstopped the Rivs to the 2018 Isobel Cup a season ago.
PHOTO BY TROY PARLA
“It was just kind of an odd play and a nice shot. It wasn’t like it went through an armpit or anything like that,” said Fitzgerald of the game’s opening goal. “I just sidestepped it and put it behind me. Unfortunately, that’s not the first time that’s happened to me,” she added of the opening goal with a laugh.
Once again Buffalo scored an early-period goal, this time it was Maddie Elia with her league-leading 12th goal of the season just 1:32 into the second. Elia tipped a point shot from Blake Bolden and then stuffed her own rebound past Fitzgerald to give the Beauts a 2-0 lead.
59 seconds later the Riveters finally solved Shannon Szabados when Amanda Kessel netted her second goal of the season, putting a rebound past the Buffalo netminder from the side of the net. The teams traded penalties, multiple times throughout the remainder of the second period and it appeared as if the Beauts would carry a one-goal lead into the final frame.
But on their fourth power play, the Riveters finally broke through and tied the game. Courtney Burke’s point shot was tipped by D’Oench and Madison Packer was right there to pounce on the rebound for her eighth goal of the season with 2:19 left in the period.
Through two periods Fitzgerald had made 30 saves and Szabados had to only make nine, but the stage was set for a great third period. And the two teams didn’t disappoint. With less than five minutes left in the frame, it was Russo who cashed in on a power play to give the Riveters their first lead of the afternoon. Buffalo answered back with the equalizer just over three minutes later when Hayley Scamurra scored with Szabados pulled for an extra skater.
Buffalo held play in overtime, but couldn't convert, sending the game to the shootout. Fitzgerald turned aside shots from Dani Cameranesi and Scamurra, and Packer evened the shootout after Elia put the heat on the home team. That all set the stage for D’Oench to give her team the final advantage they’d need before Fitzgerald denied Taylor Accursi’s last chance.
“We needed that. It doesn’t matter how we got the points, and now we’re playing at home next week,” said Packer afterward. “It’s the first time in a long time I think everyone had fun from start to finish.”
Game Notes: The special teams for both teams got a workout, each side had seven power-play chances, the Riveters PK went 7-for-7. Bolden and Kelly Babstock led all players with seven shots on goal apiece. Packer and Kessel were the only two players with multiple points in the game with a goal and an assist each.
3 Stars of the Game:
1) Katie Fitzgerald (Rivs): 40 saves, win (2)
2) Madison Packer (Rivs): pp goal (8), assist (5)
3) Rebecca Russo (Rivs): pp goal (5)