LEVEILLE EARNS SHUTOUT IN WHITECAPS 2-0 WIN OVER RIVETERS
By Mike Murphy
The Minnesota Whitecaps had a lot on the line tonight at ProSkate Arena, home of the Metropolitan Riveters. With their 2-0 win, the Whitecaps created some crucial distance between themselves and the third-place Buffalo Beauts in the league standings. Thanks to 36-save shutout from Amanda Leveille, who is in All-Star form for the reigning Isobel Cup Champions, the Whitecaps improved to a record of 8-3-2 on the season.
For the most part, the first period belonged to the goalies. Both Sam Walther of the Riveters and Leveille of the Whitecaps stopped prime scoring chances. The first goal of the game went to Minnesota after a costly defensive breakdown from the Riveters resulted in a greasy goal scored by Meaghan Pezon, set up by former Riveter Audra Richards. Although both teams didn’t know it at the time, that goal by Pezon would prove to be the game-winner. Richards now has six points in five games this season against her former team.
In the early minutes of the second period, Whitecaps newcomer Sydney Baldwin made a fantastic individual effort that resulted in her sixth goal of the season to put Minnesota up 2-0. The Riveters had a few big chances to get on the board in the second, but Leveille was simply sensational. Eventually, the Riveters’ top power play unit pushed a puck past late in the period, but it was disallowed as a result of a quick whistle. The Riveters hit the locker room for the second intermission down 2-0 despite having a 18-15 edge in shots on goal.
"The past couple of games our team has done a great job of keeping them to the outside," Leveille said. "As a whole, we wanted to limit a lot of odd-man rushes because that was something we were struggling with early. Today I think they only got one odd-man rush, which really speaks to how we're working as a team in practice and how we came together today. We were strong in the d-zone and kept them to the outside, and that is what you have to do to win games in the NWHL."
A brief fracas between Baldwin and Brooke Baker 8:11 into the third period created two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey for the second time in the game. However, the open ice wasn’t enough for the Riveters to solve the riddle of Leveille. After the Riveters pulled the goalie with 2:12 left in regulation, she stopped a few more saves to preserve the shutout, her second of the season.
"We’re very lucky to have Lev,” said Jonna Curtis, who returned to the lineup after missing some time with a shoulder injury. “She’s always been our backbone. It’s good that we have a goalie we can count on when we do have some minor breakdowns, but hopefully, we don’t have to ask her to do that moving forward. But she was awesome, as always.”
Leveille’s stellar performance put an end to the epic scoring streaks of both 2020 NWHL All-Star captain Madison Packer and newcomer Kate Leary. Tonight's 2-0 loss to the Whitecaps also marks the first time in the 2019-20 season that the Riveters were shut out. Walther, who made a few highlight-reel stops of her own, finished the game with 28 saves and .933 save percentage.
The Riveters and Whitecaps will faceoff again tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. ET at ProSkate. Tickets are available at riveters.nwhl.zone/tickets and the game will be streaming live and free on the NWHL on Twitch.
Photo Credit: Kate Frese