WOLEJKO A PERFECT 8-FOR-8 IN SHOOTOUT AS WHALE TOP RIVETERS
By Dan Rice
In the first game of seven straight at home to end the regular season, the Metropolitan Riveters battled the Connecticut Whale to a 1-1 tie after 65 minutes. Both team’s goaltenders continued to shine in the shootout until Sarah Schwenzfeier beat Sam Walther in the eighth round, in one of the longest shootouts in league history. As she did in the Whale’s last trip to New Jersey, Brooke Wolejko was stellar again in goal, denying 34 Riveters shots in regulation and overtime and all eight attempts in the shootout.
“She’s been on fire lately,” Connecticut’s Hanna Beattie said of Wolejko. “We kind of need to clean it up in the d-zone, and she won that game for us.”
Both goals came in the game’s first period , with the Whale getting a much-needed early goal after being shutout in Minnesota last Sunday. Emma Vlasic scored her third goal in four games against the Rivs when her shot found the back of the net just 1:54 into the game. That was all Walther would let behind her for the next 63 minutes. Just over five minutes after Vlasic’s goal, Kate Leary tied the game for the Riveters when her rising backhander found an opening on the Whale netminder.
Each team had big penalty kill moments throughout the night, but the Whale had the biggest, killing two penalties during the final ten minutes of regulation. One of the penalty killers was Allie LaCombe, who signed a PTO with Connecticut earlier in the day and proved to be an outstanding addition for the Whale.
“My first game, I played power play, penalty kill,” said LaCombe said. “It was a fast-paced, fun game to be a part of. I loved getting out there and getting a chance to play.” LaCombe mentioned that she knew Kaycie Anderson (who helped recruit Allie) from growing up, and Janine Weber as well from playing together in Austria.
For Wolejko, it was her second win in two games against the Riveters in New Jersey and she may go for a third in the rematch on Sunday. It is becoming a comfortable rink for her.
“I just try to take things one save at a time and not overthink it,” said Wolejko. “It’s easy to get worked up when it's such a close game. Sam (Walther) played fantastic at the other end. What an unbelievable game she played.”
But the night was Wolejko’s, and the win was the Whale’s.
Dan's Three Stars of the Game
1) Brooke Wolejko (CT): 34 saves, win
2) Sam Walther (Rivs): 28 saves, OTL
3) CT Whale PK units: 5-for-5
Photo Credit: Kate Frese