Whitecaps Hold Off the Late Surging Riveters
The Riveters head to Minnesota for this match-up to take on a Whitecaps team trying to find its first win of the season. Minnesota currently has a record of (0-2-2 2pts), while the Riveters come in at (2-3-0 6 pts). The Riveters are also trying to get back-to-back wins for the 1st time this season. It's been an up-and-down season so far for the 1st time coach Venla Hovi, she comes into the position replacing her now assistant coach Ivo Mocek. Both European coaches had solid playing careers but are now trying to translate that success into the coaching side of their careers. For Venla this is her first pro coaching position before joining the Rivs she was coaching for True North as a development coach for the NHL Winnipeg Jets hockey development program. She was the first woman ever to be hired as a coach by the organization and one of a small number of women working as on-ice instructors in any capacity for an NHL organization. The Rivs have decided to go with Eveliina Makinen (1-0-0-0) after her stellar performance in Montreal, where she saved 25 of 27 shots with a .926 save%. The Whitecaps go with Amanda Leveille (0-2-0-2) who enters today 109 of 122 with a .893 save%.
The first period saw the Riveters start strong drawing a power play just 2:21 into the opening period. However, the Rivs were unable to convert on the power play as they struggled to maintain any real possession inside the Minnesota zone. The Whitecaps under no real threat cleared the puck each time with ease on the penalty kill. In the dying seconds of the power play, multiple Rivs were along the board poking for the same puck and couldn't come out clean with it. The two teams would feel each other out till 8:36 into the period when Brittyn Fleming pushed Fanni off the puck and feed a dime pass to her teammate Denisa Krizova who took the puck in down the right side of the slot going backhand cross net over the blocker of Eveliina for the goal. Minnesota goes up 1-0, that was the 1st goal of the young season for Krizova who's a lethal goal scorer and is known in her home country of the Czech Republic as a hockey prodigy. Krizova before joining the PHF in 2018-2019 with the Boston Pride was a standout player for Northeastern in Boston, MA. As a freshman in 2014-15 she was named • USCHO All-Rookie Team • WHEA Pro-Ambitions All-Rookie Team • WHEA Pro-Ambitions Rookie of the Month (January) • WHEA Pro-Ambitions Rookie of the Week (March 2)
• WHEA Pro-Ambitions Co-Rookie of the Week (Nov. 24) as a sophomore she accomplished • WHEA Second-Team All-Star • Warrior Player of the Week in Hockey East (Oct. 26)
• Highest-scoring sophomore in the nation • Her 39 assists rank as the third-most in a season in program history • Competed with the Czech Republic National Team at the Five Nations Tournament, she would go on in her junior year to be named • WHEA Second-Team All-Star
• 2x Warrior Player of the Month in WHEA (October, January) and her senior year • Finished her career as the 6th-highest scorer in program history (169 points). Her career stats are 143 games 62 goals 107 assists for 169 points. she had 3 career hat tricks, a 14-game point streak, and 52 multi-point games in conference play (87 games). After joining the Boston Pride (16 games. 6 goals,8 assists 14 points) after college, she spent 3 seasons (2019-2022) back in her home country playing for Brynas IFSDHL where she amassed 106 games, 56 goals, 72 assists, and 128 points in the regular season. In the post-season, she added 23 games, 13 goals, 7 assists, and 20 points. The Rivs Madison Packer tried to tie it up with 10:30 remaining in the period but Amanda Levelle squared up on the shot attempt making the save just outside her crease. The Riv's next best chance came with just 7:51 remaining in the period, they had a 3-on-2 chance but Amanda went right to left quickly and stoned Sarah Bujold. The Whitecap would find the back of the net again with 3:29 remaining in the period, Sidney Morin from the blue line sent a knuckle puck at Makinen's blocker side cross goal and it beat her over her right pad dipping into the bottom of the net. The goal was assisted by Ronja Mogren who prevented the puck clearance just before the Riv's bench. The goal was Sidney's 2nd of the season. Minnesota is now up 2-0 in the final minutes of the period. At the end of the 1st period, Makinen had saved 9 of 11 shots and her counterpart Levelle saved 15 of 15.
While the Riveters played a good period of hockey it was once again simple unforced errors that did them in. The first was a lack of communication between the defender and Fanni and the 2nd was a bad clearance attempt up the right sideboard. The Riveters took no penalties in the first but also couldn't capitalize on either power play attempt they had. The first power play was unorganized and sloppy passing made it easy for Minnesota to clear the zone. While the second power play was better seeing crisp passing and movement. They got two great chances off it but neither shot troubled the netminder as she was able to see both shots cleanly. The Riv's had a momentary screen on the first shot, but as the shot was closing in on goal the screen broke down too early and became ineffective. The second shot taken by Bujold required a great lateral save by Levelle. It was an improvement for the team but still not a complete period. The tiny errors are still making a big impact on their game this season.
The second period started well for both teams, then at 3:34 into the second period the referee calls Eveliina for delay of game which is a head-scratching penalty call. Goalies for years on end if their net comes off have just knocked it off the rest of the way when there is no immediate shot on goal coming in. It's something that normally goes unpunished, but this crew decided to make it an actual thing. This season has seen some odd calls but so far, this one takes the top slot. Anyways Minnesota took advantage of the call and got the puck into the corner off the faceoff, The Rivs couldn't get the puck cleanly to clear it, and Sydney Brodt pulled it out hitting her teammate Sidney Morin with a crisp pass, she skated it off the wall and found a wide-open Patti Marshall at the right dot, she took two strides and sent a wrister high over Makinen's glove short side to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead. That was the first penalty call against the Riv's tonight and the Whitecaps made the usually potent and dangerous penalty kill pay right away. Madison Packer appeared to be shaken up on the play as well down in the corner, she did skate to the bench under her own power though after the goal. With 14:55 remaining in the period Makinen comes up with a huge save going from the right of her crease to the left in the butterfly and kicks the puck out with her pad to deny the 2-on-1 chance. A few seconds later the officials would call another penalty of the Riv's and after 20 replays of the broadcast, I still can't find it anywhere. However, they send Rust to the box for bodychecking. 2 players on both teams all crashed the goal in a scoring attempt, there was some contact, but it was every second of the game type contact definitely not a body check anywhere in sight. The Riv's with a solid penalty kill this time around, they cleared the lanes and allowed Makinen to see the puck. 10:12 remaining in the period Riv's with a solid chance on goal. They just couldn't bury home the rebound opportunity in front of the goal, good saves by Leveille to keep her team in control. A few minutes later Levelle would have to step up again this time stopping Packer who tried to jam a rebound home. With 7:13 remaining Kelly Babstock took an undisciplined penalty right in front of the referee in her offensive zone. She took liberties with the cross-check one too many times. On the penalty kill with 6:02 remaining the Rivs get a 2 on 1 but Packer misread the ice for a split second and missed the chance to hit her teammate Pelky open at the far post. The defense recovered and cleared the puck without giving up a shot on goal. The Rivs would kill off the remainder of the penalty and they find Kelly Babstock on the fly returning to the ice as the penalty ends. Babstock is in on goal but doesn't pull the trigger and the defender catches up and clears the puck with no shot on the goal. Minnesota is using its speed to its advantage and just smothering the Rivs. Frustration seems to have gotten the better of Kelly as she just runs over the Minnesota forward seconds later drawing the body-checking call from the referee who was right in front of the hit. With 3:43 remaining in the period the referee would drop the puck for the faceoff after the penalty call, and the Whitecaps win the draw to the point where Patti Marshall unleashes a wrister high glove side for the goal and a 4-0 lead. The goal was assisted by Natalie Snodgrass. The Rivs with a great shot on goal with 3:03 remaining but an even better save by Levelle. With just 1:55 remaining in the 2nd period the Rivs would draw a delay of game penalty on Brooke Madsen. The Rivs would capitalize as team captain Madison Packer took the puck into the offensive zone, she made a nice backhand pass along the board to Kendall Corrine, she hits teammate Anna Kilponen with a crisp pass at the point, Anna slides the puck over to her defensive partner Minttu Tuominen who skates the puck down to the dot and fires a beautiful wrister cross the goal beating Leveille blocker side high. The score is now 4-1 with just over a minute left to play in the period. The Riveters finished the period strong and forced Minnesota into a bad penalty just as the horn sounds. Minnesota's Amanda Boulier is called for delay of game, the Rivs will start the 3rd period on the power play.
Minnesota capitalized on a bad penalty call by the officials to open the game up to 3-0 then took advantage of a bad penalty taken by Babstock to go up 4 goals. The Rivs will need to capitalize on the power play quickly to start the 3rd period and bunker down avoiding bad penalties that are unforced by Minnesota. While the Whitecaps have been smothering the Rivs deep in the corners for the most part the release valve was found to take the pressure away. The biggest difference so far is the Riveters are just not taking advantage of the opportunities given to them this game by the home team. There is nothing you can do about bad calls against you other than to try and kill them off, which has been a strength so far this season for the Metropolitans. What's been their Achilles heel this young season is the bad unforced penalties. Overall, the forechecks improved in the first two periods of play and the team was well-disciplined in the first period. They have to maintain their composure on the ice and not be drawn into silly penalties purely out of frustration with how the game is going. Along with better communication, calling out the oncoming attackers, and giving their teammates a heads up to either play the puck or let it through, let them know if boards are clogged when trying to clear the zone. If they can clean up the unforced mistakes and gel as a cohesive unit this team can be extremely dangerous to play against.
The third period is underway and the Rivs start it on the powerplay. It doesn't take them long to find the back of the net, just 37 seconds into the period Minttu with her second goal of the game and season. She unleashes a deadly wrister from the pointing going again cross goal over the blocker of Levelle. The assists go to Anna Kilponen and Madison Packer on the goal making it now 4-2 with plenty of time left to play. That is back-to-back powerplay goals by Minttu. With 16:50 remaining Sidney Morin goes for tripping and the Riveters return to the power play. Good puck movement and a few good chances so far on the power play but players are a bit flat-footed in their movement not drawing the whitecaps out of position to make lanes. The Whitecaps kill off the remainder of the power play with no issues. Now with 13:34 remaining Madison Packer is called for tripping, a bad penalty to take given her teammate had the player marked well already and she committed the trip from behind. Marino created a great chance on the penalty kill, however, her backhand shot lets her down at the end. She had a great burst of speed to get at the goal but not enough behind the backhanded attempt to trouble Levelle. Was a great penalty kill by the Riveters and keeps them alive in the game. Another unforced tripping penalty was committed by the Rivs, this time it is Taylor Marchin going to the box after taking down a whitecap who was trapped behind the goal with nowhere to go with the puck. With just 9:59 remaining in the period it will be a big kill for the Riveters to stay in this game with time dwindling down. The Rivs while pinned in their zone had great pressure on the Whitecaps and didn't allow any threatening chances. The Riveters kill off the power play and Pelky nearly scored off the rush into the offensive zone. With 5:35 remaining the Rivs get another solid shot on goal, but Levelle again stands tall and denies the opportunity by Packer. Kelly Babstock 20 seconds later wins a big battle in the corner and finds Amanda Pelkey flying toward the goal with a great backhanded pass, she slaps a one-timer with authority over the blocker popping the bottle to make it 4-3 and that's Pelkey's 1st goal of the season. The Rivs pull their goalie to try and find the equalizer, the puck movement is good but spacing again became an issue on their first solid crash on the net. Timeout Rivs with 48.9 seconds remaining in the game. Minttu with a solid shot on the net, Leveille looks behind her, but the puck is under her pads for the save. Sarah Bujold is down holding her shoulder after taking a Minttu Slapshot straight on, that will definitely leave a mark. I Hope Sarah is ok that was a heavy-rising shot she took.
Overall conclusion the team had a great forecheck tonight, unfortunately, unforced errors and miscues struck them again. The Metropolitans fall to a record of 2-4-0 6pts and Minnesota picks up their first win and improves their record to 1-2-2 5pts. After the game Head Coach, Venla Hovi was happy with her team's forechecking improvement and the grit they showed fighting back into the game. She acknowledged they still have some cleaning up to do but she was happy with the response she saw from the team.