NEWARK, N.J., March 18 – It’s no secret around the National Women’s Hockey League that the Connecticut Whale have struggled to score goals this year.
The Whale scored just 26 goals in 16 regular season games – by far the lowest offensive performance in the league’s three-year history. The New York Riveters had 41 goals in the league’s first season in 2015-16.
The Riveters, now called the Metropolitan Riveters, gave up just 30 goals – just one off the mark of 29 set a year ago by the Boston Pride.
There were no surprises in Sunday’s Isobel Cup semifinal playoff game. The Riveters pitched a shutout Sunday night, advancing to their first NWHL championship game with a 5-0 victory over the Whale before a full house at the Barnabas Health Hockey House.
Metropolitan advances to next week’s NWHL championship game against the defending Isobel Cup champion Buffalo Beauts, who eliminated Boston, 3-2 on Saturday. The game will be played in Newark since the Riveters had the best record in the league this year.
Five different Riveter players scored against Connecticut led by Erika Lawler and Madison Packer, who each had one goal and two assists. Metropolitan goalie Katie Fitzgerald stopped 13 Connecticut shots to earn the shutout.
The Whale were only able to muster a season-low 13 shots on goal with Shannon Doyle and Juana Baribeau each having three shots on net and Kelly Babstock and Jordan Brickner with two each.
After beating Boston in overtime on February 2, the Whale scored just five goals in their final five games of the season while allowing 15 goals and losing five in a row.
The Riveters scored just 1:04 into the game on a goal from Rebecca Russo. A Lawler goal midway through the second period extended the lead to 2-0. Three goals in four minutes in the third period, including a short-handed goal from Packer, iced the contest for Metropolitan.
It was the sixth win of the year for the Riveters over Connecticut in six outings.
Metropolitan 5, Connecticut 0
At Newark, N.J.
Connecticut 0 0 0 — 0
Metropolitan 1 1 3 — 5
Metropolitan 1, Rebecca Russo (Erika Lawler, Madison Packer), 1:04; Penalties: Michele Picard (M) delay of game, 6:49; Shannon Doyle (CT) interference, 9:03; Amanda Boulier (CT) high sticking, 19:14
Metropolitan 2, Lawler (Packer, Russo), 13:32; Penalties: Packer (M) roughing, 4:09; Kiira Dosdall (M), interference; Packer (M) body checking, 19:18
Metropolitan 3, Packer (Lawler), 10:18 (shorthanded); Metropolitan 4, Bray Ketchum (Kelsey Koelzer, Miye D’Oench) 13:41; Metropolitan 5, Kelly Nash (Harrison Browne, Ashley Johnson); Penalties – Cydney Roseler (CT) 3:00, Doyle (CT) body checking, 5:33; Dosdall (M) interference, 7:08; Kelsey Koelzer (M), 9:58; Sam Faber (CT), interference, 15:48
Shots on goal: Metropolitan 26 (6-10-10); Connecticut 13 (4-5-4)
Saves: Connecticut – Sydney Rossman (L, 0-1) 24 shots, 20 saves; Keira Gorin 2 shots, 1 save; Metropolitan – Katie Fitzgerald (W, 1-0) 13 shots, 13 saves
2018 NWHL final standings
Isobel Cup Playoffs
Saturday, March 17
Buffalo 3, Boston 2
Sunday, March 18
Metropolitan 5, Connecticut 0
Sunday, March 25
Metropolitan 1, Buffalo 0