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In NWHL Classic, Richards Nets Hat Trick, Rivs Edge Whale In Shootout

By Amanda Ghysel, 11/25/18, 5:45PM EST

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PHOTO BY TROY PARLA

In an intense back-and-forth battle, the Metropolitan Riveters escaped with a 4-3 shootout win over the Connecticut Whale on Sunday afternoon, led by Audra Richards hat trick in regulation.

The Riveters led, 2-1, after the first period, but a pair of Whale goals in the second gave Connecticut a 3-2 lead heading into the third. Richards then completed her hat trick to force overtime in the third period. A fast-paced overtime period saw both teams get power-play opportunities but come up empty-handed. Amanda Kessel then scored the shootout’s only goal as Riveters goaltender Kimberly Sass made all three saves in her first start of the season.

"I felt the energy on the bench," said Riveters first-year head coach Randy Velischek. "Getting our first win in this building was a huge positive. Lots of positives of all around. Audra Richards was very impressive. Having Amanda Kessel back was big. We won a game we deserved to win." 

The Riveters came out strong, firing a number of chances, including a pair from Kessel early on, but Meeri Räisänen was up to her usual ways, making impressive saves. Richards then capitalized on the Riveters’ hot start, batting in a shot from in front for a 1-0 lead 8:46 into the first period for her first of the day.

It took just 1:04 for the Whale to answer, however, with Katerina Mrázová scoring on the power play, burying a pass from Emily Fluke.

Kessel nearly scored for the Rivs with about six minutes left in the period, ringing a shot off the crossbar, before Richards’ second of the game with just under a minute left gave the Riveters a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. Miye D'Oench earned her second assist of the day in her first game back in the lineup, feeding Richards in the slot.

Despite three power plays and a number of chances for the Riveters, including another Kessel shot off the crossbar, the tides changed in the second. Kayla Meneghin knocked in a loose puck in the crease for her first professional goal to tie the game at two 12:42 into the period. Mrázová and Michelle Löwenhielm created space on a shorthanded opportunity, with Löwenhielm sliding a pass to Mrázová, who one-timed her shot into the top corner for her second of the day to give the Whale a 3-2 lead at the second intermission.

After more back-and-forth action in the early goings of the third, Richards completed the hat trick at 11:36, stuffing the puck just inside the post after Jenny Ryan’s shot from the point to knot the score at three.

The Riveters took a penalty 1:55 into overtime, but the Whale couldn’t capitalize, taking their own penalty before the power play had ended. The Rivs peppered Räisänen with shots in the final moments of overtime, looking to poke the puck in during a big scrum, but Räisänen kept it out to force the shootout.

Sass made the first save of the shootout on Mrazova, who had two goals in regulation for the Whale. Kessel shot first for the Riveters, tipping her shot off Räisänen's glove. The next two shooters from each team came up empty, giving the Rivs the win.

After a pair of barn-burner games over the past two weeks, the Riveters and Whale will meet again next weekend in Pittsburgh at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets and are currently 33% off in the NWHL’s Cyber Monday sale.