“The Beauts are so quick to the puck today - they have the speed and the power - they have everything, and that’s why any team in this league should be worried about facing them in the playoffs.”
Matt Falkenbury, play-by-play broadcaster for the Metropolitan Riveters took a moment early in the matchup to offer his thoughts on the league’s hottest team. The esteemed analyst hit the nail right on the head. The Beauts are a juggernaut, plowing through the standings right now, and it showed again in Saturday’s matchup with the Riveters.
The team was suffocating in the first frame, and while the Riveters did a good job limiting chances, the Beauts were unyielding throughout. Even when Metro had an opportunity to enter the Buffalo zone, the Beauts quickly recovered and were able to maintain possession and counter.
The Riveters failed to click, but for rare occasions, and late in the first, a poorly played puck ended up on the stick of Corinne Buie. Buie broke into the Rivs end and fired one over top the net. Buffalo collected the puck and shunted it to the front, where it laid on the line and between the legs of Katie Fitzgerald. Taylor Accursi banged it home at 17:30.
The team ended the period on the penalty kill, but the Riveters were largely ineffective and they managed only one shot on goal with the advantage; a total of four in the period.
It seemed as though the second would be more of the same, but a pass from Alexa Aramburu through the neutral zone hit Rebecca Morse on the tape and she broke in on Nicole Hensley. It seemed as though defender Emily Pfalzer had her edged to the outside, but Morse was able to get a tip into Hensley’s skates. Hensley moved off of the post just slightly, but enough to allow Morse to push it through to tie the game with 18:10 to go in the middle period.
While the goal should have sparked the Riveter, it awoke the sleeping blue giant. Buffalo maintained possession once again - for nearly three solid minutes - and after several great saves by Fitzgerald, the Beauts retook the lead. A low shot from Jordyn Burns was tipped top corner by rookie sensation Julianna Iafallo.
Iafallo picked up her second point in three minutes when she collected a loose puck on a broken 2-on-1 in her defensive zone. She got wide and hit a streaking Savannah Harmon for the team’s third of the afternoon; the only power play tally of the match.
Metro did not stay down long. Kristin Lewicki demonstrated her incredible speed to break outside of Emily Pfalzer and cut back in to wrist a shot in the smallest gap between Hensley’s leg and the post.
This finally ignited the Riveters. A whole new, intense, fluid Rivs squad. Passes were crisp, which helped with possession. The boost gave the team 11 shots in the second, and the pace of the game stayed high through the end of the second. It was a period reminiscent of last year’s matchups - Fitzgerald was great, the team traded chances, and team speed led to a bunch of goals.
The third period was a bit tighter of an affair. Both teams held the zone well through the first eight minutes before a series of great shifts by Buffalo’s depth lines led to a Riveters penalty.
Things got worse for Metro when the Beauts capably spent the entire two minutes in the Rivs’ zone. The team was unable to make a change as Buffalo deftly cycled the puck, sending several chances on Fitzgerald. They were unable to score, but it was a tough four minute span for the Riveters defenders.
The tide was slowly turning in the Riveters’ favor. The ice was tilted toward Buffalo’s end, and two icing calls had Buffalo worn down. A penalty was called on Emily Pfalzer for hooking when she took down Kelsey Koelzer, who was on her way to a good chance on goal. The Beauts cleared the zone as soon as the puck dropped, and Hayley Scamurra streaked in on Fitzgerald with Courtney Burke defending. Burke got her arm around the waist of Scamurra, who went down, eliminating the Riveters power play. Buffalo survived the Rivs’ final onslaught with Fitzgerald on the bench to hold on for the 3-2 victory.
It was the most goals Buffalo has given up in over a month and the fewest they’ve scored in that same time. The Riveters were also missing their captain and key forward, Madison Packer, who was serving her one-game suspension for the scrum with Sarah Casorso in Buffalo.
It was a win, but there were some uncharacteristic mistakes made by some veteran defenders who are shouldering a lot of minutes as of late. It is difficult to say there is reason to worry, but hopefully the two weeks off will help rest some legs as the team heads toward the playoffs.