Tuesday night, the Minnesota Whitecaps solidified themselves as the last remaining undefeated team in the NWHL bubble season. They beat the Metropolitan Riveters in a nail-biter that didn’t see a goal until the last 10 seconds of play.
The Whitecaps were able to clean up their act on the ice, stay focused on getting the puck, and let Amanda Leveille do what Amanda Leveille does, win.
They face off with the Connecticut Whale Thursday at 8:30pm EST and look to extend that winning streak.
This game was the most anticipated game after the first weekend of play, for sure. Both of these teams met with no losses through their first two games, the only two teams left to claim that title. Leveille shook off some bad goals from Sunday and stood strong in the crease, knocking off 38 shots from a Metropolitan Riveters team that dominated play throughout the game.
The Whitecaps got right back into their temporary routine of taking two penalties in the first period, Stauber being the usual offender, but quickly got it together enough to prevent any upper-hand in the Riveters’ direction.
The suspense between these two teams, who last met in the 2019 semi-finals where not a goal was scored until overtime that sent the Caps to the Isobel Cup Final, brewed as there wasn’t a score in this game through two periods and nineteen and a half minutes as well. Riveters goalie Sonjia Shelly, blocked 36 shots in that time, completing over 120 minutes of shutout hockey for her in this tournament.
It wasn’t until within the last minute of play that Riveters assistant captain Rebecca Morse, and captain Madison Packer took unsportsmanlike conduct and hooking penalties respectively, leaving the Whitecaps with a dozen seconds of a 5-on-3. With just ten seconds to go, rookie Haley Mack, who had a shootout winner in their previous game, was the hero again as she squeaked one by Shelly and the Whitecaps took the win.
WHITECAPS GOAL— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) January 27, 2021
Haley Mack capitalizes on the 5-on-3 to win the game with 10 seconds left!! pic.twitter.com/ODROT6suH5
Something to note from this game was that Riveters head coach Ivo Mocek, and players Rebecca Russo and Mallory Rushton left the game early. It was later released for medical reasons, and that in their following game, they were replaced with the Toronto Six while they await medical results. While that is certainly not an excuse for the team to lose, and for two late, sloppy penalties, Russo has been a strong presence on the ice for the team and obviously without a head coach on the bench, things may get unruly.
The Whitecaps will look to win four straight games as they take on the Connecticut Whale on Thursday night. The Whale are coming off of the strong win against the Boston Pride. They scored four unanswered goals in the third period, to take down the Boston team that they haven’t defeated since February of 2018.
The Whale have only lost one game and are not looking like the Whale team that I’m sure anyone prepared for. I would anticipate Leveille starting again as she’s had a day off, and with her, you really have to work to get a goal so the Whale may be able to be stopped if they don’t get their momentum going until late again.
Around the League
Sunday night wrapped up with Boston taking down the Beauts 5-1 in a pretty typical game for the Boston team. They looked to be in full 2019 form while Buffalo failed to create any momentum. One thing to note for this game is, Pride defender Jenna Rheault exited the game due to a wrist injury which was later announced to be completely fractured. She remains in the bubble, but will not play with the team going forward.
Following the intense Riveters and Whitecaps matchup on Tuesday, Toronto and Boston brought even more heat. The final score was 2-1 Toronto, uncharacteristically leaving the Pride in fifth place in the league.
The Riveters and Beauts were supposed to face off Wednesday night in a big rivalry matchup, however due to the medical concerns for the Riveters, the Toronto Six replaced them in that game instead.
All the action will be back Thursday, followed by an off day on Friday and then huge weekend slates again.