Shelly Stays Strong in Net, But Riveters Fall to Whitecaps Late

To wrap up their time in the bubble, the Metropolitan Riveters faced the leagues reigning champs, the Minnesota Whitecaps in a battle of perfect records for first place in the standings. Although the effort from goaltender Sonjia Shelly and the rest of the Rivs allowed them to stay in the game, they fell to the Whitecaps 1-0 late in the third.

Since then, the Rivs have announced that they will withdraw from the 2021 season after multiple members tested positive for COVID-19; but we’ll talk about the game and what came from it before their season ended.

The Game: Both Sides Put Up a Great Effort

This one was pretty even throughout. Shelly was coming off the only shutout of the first weekend in Lake Placid, and Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille already had two wins under her belt. Both teams were off to a great start in the bubble, but someone had to endure their first loss.

The Rivs came out hot with good offensive pressure and after the starters went to the bench, forwards Kendall Cornine and Mallory Rushton got the team’s first solid chance on net. Five minutes into the game, the Rivs had a power play, which looked strong throughout the game. However, the crossbar seemed to be a common theme of the night, and Rebecca Morse got the first taste of it on that power play. The Riveters dominated the first half of the period with consistent pressure and scoring chances.

Cailey Hutchison, Audra Richards
Metropolitan Riveters forward Cailey Hutchison and Minnesota Whitecaps forward Audra Richards battle for the puck in Lake Placid, NY on Jan 26, 2021. (Photo Credit: Michelle Jay)

A waved off goal by the Whitecaps kept them from scoring first, but they started to put on some pressure after that. Rivs forwards Kate Leary and Emily Janiga quickly shut that down with a 2-on-1, and Leary put the team back on the power play shortly after when she drew a penalty. Forward and captain Madison Packer tried to collect her first point in Lake Placid with the man advantage, but there were solid chances for both teams for the rest of the period.

Forward Kelly Babstock ended the period with another puck off the crossbar, and the game was scoreless going into the second frame as the Riveters were outshooting their opponent 12-8.  

Related: Metropolitan Riveters Impress In Lake Placid With Undefeated Weekend

The second looked mostly the same. The Metro continued to build offensive pressure and they were getting chance after chance. Leary might have scored a few into this one, but Packer got called for roughing right before she hit the back of the net.

Babstock continued to show her inexhaustible energy with a blocked shot and intense play, and center Cailey Hutchison hit the post for the third time of the night as both sides tried to get one. Shelly shined again in this period, with some great saves to keep her team with the Whitecaps. A Morse breakaway gave the Riveters another chance at the end of the second, but the score was still 0-0 going into the third.

Someone had to score here or it was going to overtime. Babstock brought out her game in this one and gave it her all to try to get the Riveters on the board. Their power-play units did all they could, but no one could get one past Leveville and the Whitecaps could not get past Shelly on a shorthanded breakaway.

You guessed it — another puck off the post, from Minnesota this time, and Shelly made some glove saves to keep Metro in it. The shots were roughly even until another Riveters power play, but even pressure from Cornine and a one-timer from defenseman Kiira Dosdall-Arena could not get through.

There were more Shelly saves, another one off the post from Minnesota and a Riveters power play before the game winded down and looked like it was going into overtime. But, with ten seconds left, forward Minnesota’s Haley Mack sealed the win. They now lead in the standings and the Riveters wrapped up in Lake Placid ranked second.

Takeaways and Heading Into More Games

The goalies on both sides were fantastic and Shelly proved her spot on the Riveters once again. She made 36 saves while her opponent had 38. The game was a true goaltending battle.

The Riveters power play looked good. Although they did not capitalize on their four opportunities, their units looked strong and created a ton of chances.   

Sonjia Shelly, Haley Mack
Metropolitan Riveters goaltender Sonjia Shelly makes a save as Minnesota Whitecaps forward Haley Mack looks for a rebound in Lake Placid, NY on Jan 26, 2021. (Photo Credit: Michelle Jay)

Babstock is an animal on the ice. She continues to show more energy every game and was bound to collect some points before their season got cut short by COVID-19.

Paige Voight is really starting to be noticeable. She a consistent player that looked good throughout.

As it was not the end the Riveters wanted, they showed some strong play in Lake Placid and in this game. Their focus now is staying healthy, hockey after.

Sign up for our 'DAILY BEST Newsletter' for the latest & greatest hockey news & analysis.