Leveille secures first win
While it was the Riveters who came from behind on Saturday, the hosts bested their in-state rivals on Sunday in overtime. The hot-handed Katie Fitzgerald started in net for the Riveters, while rookie goalie Amanda Leveille got the start for Buffalo. The Canadian keeper has had a difficult start to her professional career, allowing 12 goals in four appearances. The Riveters got to Leveille early, scoring a shorthanded goal in the first period and a power play goal early in the second period. However, Buffalo was able persevere and get the victory.
“It’s tough when you get pulled in a game,” said Leveille, reflecting on her first two starts. However, she stuck it out and gives her comrades the credit. “The team played fantastic in front of me, and when they play like that, it gives me confidence as a goalie.” The overtime win marks the first career win for Leveille and put Buffalo in second place heading into next week’s matchup against the Boston Pride.
On Sunday, five of the seven goals between the two teams were scored during a power play. However, Buffalo went 3-for-5 on opportunities, while New York went 1 for 5. For the Riveters, Janine Weber scored a shorthanded goal in the first period and Milica McMillen beat former Gopher teammate Leveille on an early power play in the second period.
After that, the Riveters saw the 2-0 lead disappear as Corinne Buie and Megan Bozek converted on the power play. Buie’s goal was assisted by an excellent pass by Kourtney Kunichika, who recognized Riveters defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin closing in on her, exposing the far post for Buie. Speaking of Buie, she almost killed off the Riveters power play in the second period singlehandedly. She seemingly surprised New York with her aggression, and her teammates followed suit.
However, an aggressive Buffalo team and a disallowed goal shifted the momentum in favor of the Beauts. Despite a 5-on-3 power play opportunity awarded after Kelley Steadman absolutely leveled Kiira Dosdall, the Riveters were unable to benefit from the advantage.
A need for video review?
As it tends to be the case for the Riveters, when it rains, it pours. Before leaving the game, Dosdall collected three primary assists on the weekend. The already depleted New York bench was now down a key component to the defense and offense. The Riveters fought through and seemingly took the lead in the second period, but the goal was waved off.
GOAL... no goal.... WHAT— New York Riveters (@NYRiveters) November 13, 2016
REF PLEASE EXPLAIN#NYRvsBUF
"kicked it into the net" UH NO WE DIDNT. RUUUUUUDE— New York Riveters (@NYRiveters) November 13, 2016
From the broadcast to Twitter, spectators questioned the call, but play resumed. However, tempers would flare again during overtime. Emily Pfalzer squeaked the game-winning goal past the newly coined #BrickWallFitz with less than two minutes left in extra time ... or did she?
The Ice Garden spoke with Fitzgerald and Madison Packer post-game to get their take. “I’m still not 100% sure that it crossed,” said Fitzgerald during a phone interview, “But [the referee] called it a goal, so that’s the way it is. If it would have been reversed, we would have been happy with the goal. It just didn’t go our way this time, but it stung. It definitely stung.”
Packer agreed, “I didn’t see the puck go in the net, but it is what it is.” Packer also commented about the disallowed goal earlier in the game, “We don’t have video replay. If we had video replay, maybe it goes the other way, maybe it doesn’t, but we don’t have the liberty of knowing because we don’t have access to that kind of technology.”
Preparing for next week
With Sunday’s win, Buffalo sits in second, five points behind Boston, but only two points ahead of the fourth-place Riveters. Both teams will look to build on positives from this weekend. The Pride travel to the HarborCenter on Sunday and Buffalo will look to avenge their overtime loss to Boston on Oct. 15.
As for the Riveters, getting the first three points of the season this weekend was a step in the right direction. Four players, including Weber and Packer, got their first goals of the season. For a team that struggles to tally shot attempts, seeing key players score is a good thing. “It’s nice to get the monkey off your back,” said Packer after the game. Weber agreed. “It feels good to get a goal to [gain] confidence. It’s nice to get the first one.” However, the returning forward also added, “It’s better when you win after.”
Weber gets her chance to score in a win on Sunday, as New York hosts Connecticut at the Barnabas Hockey House. Special teams will be the main focus for New York ahead of the rematch. With players like Amanda Kessel, Courtney Burke and perhaps now Kiira Dosdall out with injury, New York will also need to find productivity from everyone.