DEMARTINO, LEARY AND RIVS PULL CLOSER TO CLINCHING NO. 3 SEED WITH 4-3 VICTORY
By Dan Rice
After a wild back-and-forth game on Saturday night, the Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters renewed their rivalry on Sunday afternoon and didn’t disappoint. The Riveters came away with a 4-3 win to grab an all-important two points as they try to maintain their hold on third place in the NWHL standings.
Making her first career NWHL start, Riveters goalie Dana DeMartino made 21 saves to earn the victory, while Kate Leary had the game’s first two goals, and Madison Packer had two assists to lead the Riveters’ offense.
“It’s important that we grabbed three points this weekend because the playoffs are coming and we want to be in third place,” said Riveters forward Mallory Rushton, who had the game-winning goal. “We got pucks on the net tonight, which is something we didn’t do enough of last night. Last night was a learning curve for us because we didn’t show up in the first period. Tonight we showed up and really grinded it out."
Leary definitely showed up, and she did Kate Leary things scoring two early goals for the home team. Leary also took over the team’s goal-scoring lead with 15. First, she finished off a nice pass from Packer after a nice keep-in at the blue line by Colleen Murphy, and then she showed off her world-class hands with a dangle through traffic before softly tucking the puck past Buffalo netminder Tiffany Hsu.
“I was just trying to get up the ice and get the puck on net,” said Leary. “It just kind of happened, I don’t really think those things through when I’m doing it. It ended up in the net, which was great for my team.”
The Beauts, as usual, didn’t give up. Becki Bowering got her team on the board in the final minute of the period to cut the deficit in half. Then just 2:16 into the middle frame Cassidy MacPherson tied the game for the visitors.
The game stayed tied at two until the final five minutes of the period when the Riveters struck twice in a span of 2:45. Defender Leila Kilduff scored on Packer’s second assist of the game at 15:15, and then with two minutes left in the period, Rushton gave the Riveters their second two-goal lead of the game with her first NWHL goal.
“We came through the neutral zone and I saw we were going to have a 3-on-2,” said Rushton of the scoring play. “Tati Shatalova cut across and I wasn’t sure if she was going to pass to Kendall (Cornine). Somehow the puck came to my stick and I saw the goalie go down, I shot it upstairs. It’s been a long wait! It’s a load off my shoulders.”
Rushton’s goal ended up being the game-winner as the Beauts were only able to add one tally (by Kristin Lewicki in her second game of the season) in the final period during a five-minute major. Buffalo’s penalty killers deserve a heap of praise despite the loss as they killed off six Riveters power plays - including a five-minute major. Although the Beauts scored on their major that didn’t phase DeMartino.
“Dana brings so much energy to our team when she’s in net and I think that really fueled us tonight,” said Rushton. “She stood on her head in goal for us.”
Game notes: Lewicki had three points (1g-2a) for Buffalo while playing on a PTO this weekend. Kilduff now has goals in three straight games after being goal-less for the first 16 games.
Dan's 3 Stars of the Game:
1) Kate Leary (Rivs): 2 goals (15)
2) Mallory Rushton (Rivs): game-winner (1)
3) Beauts Penalty Kill: 6-for-6
Photo Credit: Ashley Intile