PHOTO BY TOM MORRIS
The Minnesota Whitecaps earned a perfect start to their debut season in the NWHL, topping the Metropolitan Riveters, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon. For the second straight day, TRIA Rink in Saint Paul was at capacity with 1,200 fans.
The Whitecaps once again used their speed to power past the Riveters, who scored their first goal of the season after Amanda Leveille posted a shutout on Saturday. Down by two in the third, the Riveters had a slew of late power plays, but couldn’t cut into the Whitecaps’ lead.
“My team was rock solid in front of me,” said Leveille of allowing just one goal over the two games on the weekend. “The defense and I have clicked very well from the start. It makes it really easy to do my job when I have such talented defensemen in front of me.”
Amanda Boulier opened the scoring, getting the Whitecaps on the board 10:25 into the first period with a blast from the point. Jenny Ryan answered on the power play for the Riveters, capitalizing on a tic-tac-toe pass from Rebecca Russo for the Rivs’ first goal of the season.
Kendall Coyne Schofield broke away shorthanded early in the second, but Riveters goaltender Kaite Fitzgerald denied her to keep the score even. Amanda Kessel of the Rivs had a breakaway opportunity of her own moments later on her way out of the penalty box, but missed high.
Jonna Curtis gave the Whitecaps the lead back 8:24 into the second, going top right corner after Allie Thunstrom slid her a pass on a 2-on-1. The Whitecaps struck on the rush again with 6:36 to go in the period, as Hannah Brandt pushed the advantage to 3-1, burying her shot from the slot off a pass from Team USA teammate Coyne Schofield. Brandt’s goal was her second of the season after scoring in Saturday’s opener.
“It was great to start the season with two wins on home ice,” said Brandt. “We play fast and we used that this weekend, and if we keep using our speed, we’ll be tough to beat.”
The Riveters had a chance to trim the lead to one early in the third with the puck floating around in front of Leveille, but a goaltender interference call halted the action. Four Whitecaps penalties followed in the third, but the Riveters were unable to capitalize.
“Every team is tough to beat in the NWHL,” said Leveille of taking two wins from the defending Isobel Cup champions. “Every team has three talented lines. So every win takes a full team effort and every win is special.”
The Riveters head to Boston on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff with the Pride at Warrior Ice Arena.
The Whitecaps have next weekend off before another weekend series with the Riveters, beginning with a game on the NHL ice of the Prudential Center at 2 p.m. on Oct. 20.