NWHL Stock Report: Riveters get even

Metro took the weekend’s only game in a shootout. Let’s discuss!

It took a shootout, but the Metropolitan Riveters managed to get revenge on the Connecticut Whale Sunday afternoon. The second point earned ensures the Rivs’ safety from the basement for now, as they hold a one point lead over the Whale. That said, the Whale hold three games in hand on their Founding Four rival.

Could things be on the up and up in Jersey? Let’s take a look at who’s hot, who’s not and who to keep your eye on this weekend.

Trending up: Audra Richards, MET | 3 goals, 8 SOG vs CTW
The Riveters have an early Rookie of the Year candidate on their hands. She’ll face some stiff competition come year’s end, but Richards had a game to remember on Sunday.

Richards was twice the leading scorer at the University of Maine, netting 45 goals in her four collegiate seasons. She’s been flaunting that scoring touch in the early goings, exploding for the league’s first hat trick Sunday afternoon.

She now has six goals in eight games, pulling her into a tie with Maddie Elia for the league lead.

Richards was particularly more active with Miye D’Oench on her line (more on her in a moment). Richards set a personal best with four shots on goal last week. This week with D’Oench joining her and Alexa Gruschow on the second line, Richards rifled off eight shots on goal. Only teammate Rebecca Russo has registered more individual shots on goal in a single contest this season.

Said Richards of D’Oench in the postgame: “I like playing with her. She’s crafty, she’s creative with the puck. Awesome teammate.”

Richards was named the NWHL VEDA Player of the Week.

The Riveters second line breaks through

Trending down: Metro’s power play | 0-for-4 vs CTW, 2-for-30 on the season
Good gravy, have the Riveters been frustrating on special teams. For as spotty as they have been in terms of defensive coverage, their penalty kill has only surrendered two goals on 18 attempts.

Their power play has been markedly less successful. Even with D’Oench, Amanda Kessel and Courtney Burke back in the lineup on Sunday, the team failed to strike on the advantage. They are 0-for-9 against the Whale this season.

At least they managed 10 shots on goal in their four attempts this past Sunday, as opposed to the week prior where they mustered only six on five opportunities.

Not only was the quantity better, but the quality was better as well.

Metro went from barely generating any shots from between the hashmarks to having the majority of their power play chances come from the slot.

So is their power play a lost cause? No. The personnel boost helps. But sooner or later, the flood gates need to open. They also cannot afford to allow any shorthanded goals like they did on Sunday, either.

Trending up: Miye D’Oench, MET | 2 assists vs CTW
Welcome back, Miye D’Oench. Your friends in Newark missed you dearly.

D’Oench, rejoining the team after her work on a political campaign, had a pair of assists skating on the Rivs’ second line. Richards sang her praises in her postgame interview, but also feeling the love was embattled scorer Alexa Gruschow. Gruschow earned her first two points of the season with two assists and collected three shots on goal.

When D’Oench missed time with an injury last season, the team suffered. Granted, Metro was in a drastically different place as a team at that point compared to now. But when it comes to pure impact, D’Oench may be the most influential player on this Riveters team.

Trending up: Michelle Löwenhielm, CTW | Shorthanded assist vs MET
A good deal of virtual ink is being devoted to Katerina Mrázová and her rise to league stardom this season. Why not? She’s been a stellar addition to Connecticut’s roster.

But there’s another foreign import making her mark on the Whale that is flying somewhat under the radar. That would be Michelle Löwenhielm, who has an assist in three straight games. Even more impressive is that those three assists have come at all strengths- power play, even and shorthanded, respectively.

When Kelly Babstock split for the Buffalo Beauts, many wondered how the Whale would replenish her offensive production. Bringing in a former Olympian in Löwenhielm is paying big dividends in all three zones.

Löwenhielm and the Whale will get a third consecutive crack at the Riveters this Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Trending down: Minnesota vs Katie Burt | 2 games vs BOS this weekend
Katie Burt set the NCAA wins record while at Boston College. She knows a thing or two about beating Minnesotans, besting the record previously held by Golden Gopher Noora Raty. She outdueled Jessica Convery and the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs her senior season.

The Boston Pride are playing in their first road game of the season this weekend in front of a sold-out crowd in Minnesota. If anyone can stick it to the Whitecaps and their myriad of former collegiate adversaries, it’s Burt.

Don’t be surprised if Katie Burt steals a game for the Pride this weekend and hands the Caps’ their first loss. Boston will have two chances to do so.