BEAUTS BEST RIVS IN FINAL GAME OF REGULAR SEASON
By Dan Rice
We’ve seen a little bit of everything in the season series between the Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters. Tonight, they treated us to a goaltending duel in the final regular-season game of the 2019-20 NWHL schedule. Newly-signed Léa-Kristine Demers made her second straight start in goal for Buffalo and notched her first win with 36 saves in the Beauts 3-1 triumph in New Jersey.
“I felt great, I was really excited to get the call to play here,” said Demers after the win. “It’s a great opportunity (to be here) and it was awesome. I had some nerves before the first game but once I got the hang of the pace I was good.”
The Beauts penalty killers starred in the opening period, going three-for-three, including killing off a 5-on-3 advantage for over 60 seconds. That seemed to give the visitors some energy and they were able to start the second period still tied 0-0 with the Rivs.
Buffalo grabbed their first lead of the weekend in the second period when Erin Gehen was able to get the puck past Walther’s attempted poke check at 6:12. After the game, Walther admitted she hesitated before attempting her poke check and it cost her a clean chance at the puck.
Before the next goal was scored the Riveters killed off a Beauts' penalty and had some good fortune when a shot from Taylor Accursi loudly rang off the post. With the crowd still buzzing about Accursi’s near-miss, captain Corinne Buie ripped a shot past Walther that hit the post and then found the back of the net.
The Riveters broke up the shutout bid of Demers when Kate Leary found a loose puck after a net mouth scramble, but it wasn't enough. “The D and our penalty kill was so helpful," said Demers. "I felt really confident during the PK because of how well the girls played in front of me."
In the dying stages of the game, Mikyla Grant-Mentis netted her second goal in as many days/pro games to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead, putting the game out of reach for the Riveters.
“Both of the new players helped us out tremendously (this weekend),” Buie added. “I don’t know how many saves Léa made today and last night but she was huge.”
Next weekend, the Beauts will face the Connecticut Whale in a must-win Play-In game that will lead to an Isobel Cup Semifinal showdown against the Boston Pride if they are successful. The Riveters, on the other hand, will be flying to Minnesota to play the Whitecaps in the Semifinal on Sunday. Tickets for both games are available at nwhl.zone/tickets and all 2020 NWHL Isobel Cup Playoff hockey can be seen streaming live and free on the NWHL on Twitch.
Dan's 3 Stars of the Game
1) Léa-Kristine Demers (BUF): 36 saves, win (1)
2) Corinne Buie (BUF): GWG (6)
3) Sam Walther (MET): 22 saves, loss
Photo Credit: Kate Frese