ALL PHOTOS BY MICHAEL HETZEL
The Buffalo Beauts picked up their sixth consecutive victory with a 4-1 win over the Metropolitan Riveters on Saturday evening in front of a boisterous crowd on Fan Appreciation Night at HarborCenter. The game was the Beauts’ regular-season home finale, and the win kept them undefeated on HarborCenter ice this season.
Emily Janiga picked up a pair of goals for Buffalo, while Kelly Babstock finished with a goal and an assist. Despite the loss, Katie Fitzgerald put on an impressive performance in net for the Riveters, turning away 33 of 36 shots.
The opening half of the first period featured fast-paced end-to-end action as both teams generated chances. Babstock then broke the scoring open, shoveling in a rebound from her knees in front of the net for her third goal of the season, giving the Beauts a 1-0 lead at the 15:21 mark of the first.
Taylor Accursi doubled the lead for Buffalo 4:19 into the second, picking up a loose puck in front before celebrating with an emphatic leap into the boards to the thrill of the fans.
The Riveters then put forth a massive penalty killing effort, killing off a lengthy Beauts’ power play, including 1:16 of 5-on-3 play. Miye D'Oench made a handful of key defensive plays on the kill, including a diving clear, while Fitzgerald stood tall in net.
However, the Beauts benefitted from the momentum from the power play, with Janiga giving Buffalo a 3-0 lead at 12:36 of the second, batting in a rebound on the short side.
Rebecca Russo got the Riveters on the board in the third, taking advantage of some open ice during a stint of 4-on-4 play, breaking in down the left side and firing a slapshot into the top right corner to cut the deficit to two goals at 6:24 of the frame.
Audra Richards nearly made it a one-goal game in the latter half of the third period, ripping a rocket toward the top corner on a 3-on-2 break, but Shannon Szabados made a highlight-reel glove save to preserve the two-goal advantage.
Janiga iced the game for the Beauts with an empty-net goal at 18:21.
With the win, Buffalo moved to 10-4 on the season, matching the records of the Minnesota Whitecaps and the Boston Pride, as the three teams jockey for playoff positioning and the right to host a semifinal.
The Beauts have two games remaining – taking on the Connecticut Whale in Stamford on March 2 before closing the season against the Riveters the following day. Meanwhile, the Riveters are battling the Whale for fourth place with only the game against Buffalo remaining. Tickets to all remaining regular-season games are available at NWHL.zone/tickets.