Photo By Matthew Raney Photography
For the first time in their history, the Metropolitan Riveters advanced to the Isobel Cup Final with a 5-0 win over the Connecticut Whale on Sunday night in front of a packed house in New Jersey at the RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House. They move on to face the defending Isobel Cup Champion Buffalo Beauts next weekend in a winner-take-all game to wrap up season 3 of the NWHL.
Last season the Beauts eliminated the Rivs in New Jersey in the semifinals and the Riveters have been on a mission all season long looking for redemption. Now they have their shot as Buffalo will be back in Newark to take on the Rivs at 3:00 pm on March 25.
64 seconds into the game Rebecca Russo gave the Riveters a lead they would never relinquish when she snapped a shot past Connecticut’s Sydney Rossman, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The New Jersey Devils - partners with the Riveters this season - sent over some of their Hype Crew to get the crowd going, but honestly they didn’t need them once Russo’s snipe found the back of the net.
Both teams traded power play chances throughout the remainder of the first and majority of the second before Erika Lawler doubled the lead at 13:32. The Riveters wore down the Whale all game long and it was a lengthy shift in their own zone that eventually led to Lawler’s goal.
In the third period the Whale had chances to capitalize on multiple power-play opportunities, but with each miss more and more time bled off the clock and then it all fell apart.
Madison Packer scored shorthanded to send a ripple through the crowd (10:18), followed by Bray Ketchum’s tally (13:41) which chased Rossman from the cage and then Kelly Nash capped off the scoring by getting one past Keira Goin at 14:13.
The line of Russo (1g-1a), Lawler (1g-1a) and Packer (1g-2a) was dominant in the semifinals and now all eyes will be focused on the two best teams in the NWHL next weekend, as it should be.