On March 2, the Buffalo Beauts travelled to Stamford, Connecticut to face the last place Whale. The game was integral to Buffalo’s hopes of a home championship game, and one in which Buffalo did exactly what they needed to do to make those hopes materialize.
Buffalo got on the board right away, with Annika Zalewski getting the first goal of the game 2:39 into the first period. Zalewski assisted on the second goal of the night, when linemate Taylor Accursi scored her fourth of the season. Just over one minute later, Julianna Iafallo gave the Beauts a 3-0 lead, which was all the team needed to secure a victory.
Corinne Buie added to Buffalo’s tally in the second period, with Zalewski and Accursi getting assists on the goal. Zalewski finished the night with three points - the best production of her rookie season.
Kelly Babstock added Buffalo’s fifth goal at the 4:14 mark of the third period. Connecticut made a desperate attempt at a comeback, scoring two consecutive goals, which is a feat almost unheard of against the Beauts. Shannon Doyle scored the Whale’s first and Rachel Ade added the second and final Connecticut goal of the evening.
It was a strange game in which 13 penalties were called - seven against Buffalo and six against Connecticut. Buffalo relented a power play goal for the first time since December, and also scored on the power play, extending the success of the once-ineffective unit.
The Beauts didn’t have to wait long to learn their postseason fate. Fewer than two hours later, Minnesota defeated Boston to lock down first place and secure home ice throughout the playoffs.
Final: Beauts 5, Whale 2
Shots on goal: Beauts 30 | Whale 20
Beauts Goals: Annika Zalewski (1), Taylor Accursi (1), Julianna Iafallo (1), Corinne Buie (1), Kelly Babstock (1)
Whale Goals: Shannon Doyle (1), Rachel Ade (1)
Three stars of the game
- Annika Zalewski (1G, 2A)
- Julianna Iafallo (1G, 1A, 7SOG)
- Katerina Mràzovà (2A)
The Beauts then travelled to Newark for the final regular season game. It was a tough matchup for the road weary Buffalo squad, who had less than 24 hours to recover from the weekend’s first tilt.
An impassioned Riveters served up a hefty helping of physicality and accomplished something no team had since November 17 - score more than two goals.
The Beauts lost game 16 in a shootout, but despite the result, Buffalo controlled much of the game. There were a few errors that were uncharacteristic - the penalty kill gave up two goals - the second and third in two games, after giving up only two all season. Metro certainly had their chances, with seven power play opportunities.
Special teams was the difference in the matchup; the Beauts failed on their seven power play attempts, and the penalty kill allowed the Riveters to come back into the game. It was Buffalo that scored first when Corinne Buie potted her second goal in as many games. Buie’s tally came only 22 seconds into the matchup, setting the tone for a back-and-forth affair.
Maddie Elia scored her league-leading twelfth goal, securing the scoring crown for the sophomore standout. Buffalo’s 2-0 lead would last only 59 seconds when Amanda Kessel put her second goal of the season past Shannon Szabados. Madison Packer had the Riveters’ first power play goal of the night with 2:11 left in the second period, tying the game at two.
Rebecca Russo scored Metro’s second goal on the advantage, putting Buffalo into the trailing position for the first time since December 29. The Beauts wouldn’t remain there for long; Hayley Scamurra scored her tenth of the year to tie the game, garnering the point for Buffalo.
Overtime saw both teams trade chances, but goaltenders Szabados and Katie Fitzgerald were up to the task. The shootout went five rounds before Miye D’Oench gave the Riveters their first win in eight games.
The Beauts finished the season undefeated in regulation through the final eight games of the season. The team hadn’t lost the last game of the season since 2015-16. They’ll return to HarborCenter on March 9 to face the Boston Pride for the chance to make a fourth consecutive Isobel Cup Final appearance.
Final: Riveters 4, Beauts 3
Shots on goal: Beauts 43 | Riveters 17
Beauts Goals: Corinne Buie (1), Maddie Elia (1), Hayley Scamurra (1)
Riveters Goals: Amanda Kessel (1), Madison Packer (1), Rebecca Russo (1)
Three stars of the game
1. Miye D’Oench (GWG, 1A)
2. Madison Packer (1G, 1A, Shootout goal)
3. Katie Fitzgerald (40 saves on 43 shots)