PHOTOS BY BRYAN JOHNSON
The Metropolitan Riveters got six goals from five different goal scorers, taking a 6-3 win over the Connecticut Whale on Sunday afternoon at Terry Conners Rink. The contest was the final regular-season meeting between the teams, with the Riveters earning a series split with the victory.
Audra Richards scored twice for the Riveters, as the team improved to 3-8 on the season, while Amanda Kessel had five assists and Madison Packer recorded a goal and three assists. The loss dropped the Whale to 2-5-2.
“We’re professionals, but most of us do this because it’s fun,” said Packer. “I think that was what it was today -- we just played light and had fun. Randy was very positive in the locker room, and our team remembered why we do this.”
The Riveters offense began firing in the first period, putting up three goals in the first 20 minutes. Richards netted her first of the day to open the scoring, putting away Packer’s wraparound attempt 5:34 into the game on the power play. Just 2:32 later, Packer got one of her own, going top shelf on a breakaway for a 2-0 Riveters lead.
Nina Rodgers pulled the Whale back within one at 15:05 of the first, scoring her second of the season on an assist from Katerina Mrázová. But the Rivs pushed the lead back to two just 59 seconds later with Alexa Gruschow finding the back of the net.
Jamie Goldsmith made it a one-goal game once again 4:20 into the second period, shoving home a lose puck in front.
Shortly after the Riveters killed off a penalty, Rebecca Russo gave her team a two-goal advantage once again 10:28 into the second, putting in a Chelsea Ziadie rebound for Russo’s third goal of the season and what proved to be the game-winner.
Richards netted her second of the day on the power play 15:21 into the second period, putting away a pass to the slot from Packer to give the Riveters a 5-2 lead. Richards’ tally was her team-leading eighth of the season and marked her second multi-goal performance of the season after she recorded a hat trick against the Whale on Nov. 25.
Emily Fluke gave the Whale life, scoring exactly 1:00 into the third period to close the gap to 5-3, but once again the Rivs pulled ahead by three with Miye D'Oench netting her first goal of the season on a two-on-one with Kessel 4:55 into the frame. D’Oench’s goal cemented the win for the Rivs.
After being traded from the Whale to the Riveters this week, goaltender Maria Sorokina made 18 saves, earning the win in her first NWHL appearance. Her new team responded well to the shakeup, and Sorokina got stronger as the game went on, facing her former squad.
“It feels really good to start off the new year like this,” said Kessel. “It was one of those things where at times you’re just almost waiting. Sometimes that’s how sports go. As long as you’re working hard and sticking with it, eventually it was going to turn for us.”
The Riveters head to Buffalo next weekend for their first matchup of the season with the Beauts on Saturday at 1:30 PM ET at HarborCenter. The Whale close a three-game homestand, meeting the Minnesota Whitecaps for the first time this season on Sunday at 3 PM ET at Terry Conners Rink. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.