RIVS DEFEAT WHALE AS DEMARTINO SUBS FOR INJURED WALTHER
By Dan Rice
After seeing their All-Star goaltender go down in the opening period, the Metropolitan Riveters rallied together to defeat the Whale 4-2. The Riveters big team win, made possible by four different goal scorers, was the final game of the 2019-20 NWHL regular season schedule before the 2020 NWHL All-Star Weekend in Boston.
Sam Walther left the game, after making eight saves in eight-plus minutes, with a right leg injury following an unintentional collision in her crease with Connecticut’s Kaycie Anderson.
“Obviously it’s a lower-body injury,” said Riveters coach Ivo Mocek after the game. “We won’t know more or the extent of it until after she has an MRI.”
A few shifts after Walther's injury the Rivs netted their first of the game. Defender Leila Kilduff wired a shot past Brooke Wolejko after collecting a pass from Mallory Rushton in the slot. The goal was Kilduff’s first in the NWHL and couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Mal was able to find me and I just closed my eyes and shot it on net," Kilduff said. "If it went in, it went in. If not, it was a rebound for my teammates. It was nice scoring my first career goal, but the momentum we got from that - that was for Sam, and the team.”
Dana Demartino replaced Walther and held the fort down, as did the Riveters' penalty killing units (4-for-4). Once the second period started, goals started to pile up for the home team. Captain Madison Packer scored at 2:05, Rebecca Morse scored on a seeing-eye point shot at 7:13, and 1:24 after Demartino finally surrendered a goal to the Whale, Cailey Hutchison restored the three-goal lead with under five minutes left in the second period. “The puck just bounced up and I swatted it out of the air,” said Hutchison of her third goal of the season. “And then I did a weird celebration, but it was worth it!"
Emma Vlasic netted her fourth goal in five games against the Riveters in the waning moments of the third period, but it wasn’t enough to stop the determined Rivs on this night.
“Sam has really been the heart of our team, playing in every single game,” said Hutchison. “To see her get hurt, we knew we had to play hard for her. And for Dana too; that’s a really tough situation barely playing more than a game and she has to come into this game cold. She helped us get that win.”
The win was the first of DeMartino's NWHL career. With their win today, the Riveters have improved to a record of 8-9-2 at the All-Star break. They return to action on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET at ProSkate against the Buffalo Beauts. Tickets for all Riveters home games and the 2020 NWHL All-Star Weekend are available at nwhl.zone/tickets.
Dan's Three Stars of the Game
1) Rebecca Morse (Rivs): goal (4), assist (6)
2) Leila Kilduff (Rivs): 1st career NWHL goal
3) Dana Demartino (Rivs): 15 saves, 1st NWHL win
Photo Credit: Kate Frese