Riveters, Montreal play OT thriller at American Dream

The Metropolitan Riveters kicked off Women's History Month by hosting the Montreal Force at the American Dream mall in East Rutherford on Saturday.

The Metropolitan Riveters took the ice for the first game of a homestand against Montreal which marked the beginning of the end for their regular season. Their opponent was the Montreal Force who sat just above them in sixth place with 22 points while the Riveters had 19 points coming into tonight. It has been an inconsistent year for Riveters head coach Venla Hovi's team, who were looking to give a solid crowd at American Dream something to cheer about on an evening in the Meadowlands.

A Battle from Puck Drop

The opening minutes of the first period had several odd man rushes for both teams. The Riveters came out and earned a two-on-one with their first line centered by their captain Madison Packer that produced a save from Montreal's goaltender. Montreal responded with five shots of their own in the first period which set the tone for a feisty match.

The main characteristic of the game was physicality and competitiveness because the teams played rough and played fast and it would be the home side who ended up striking first. With 2:15 remaining in the first period, Riveters defenseman Ebba Berglund stepped up just inside the blue line and unleashed a one-time slap shot that went in through a screen by teammate Amanda Pelkey. This was Berglund's first goal as a professional and it placed the Riveters ahead early.

The Visitors Strike Back

A solid first period for the Metropolitan Riveters showed momentum was on their side heading into the second period at the American Dream mall. However, Montreal came to play tonight, which became evident early in the second.

After applying intense pressure to Katie Burt's net, Force forward, Kristina Shanahan received a pass in the slot and sent a wrist shot past Burt to tie the game and show that neither team was going to back down for the rest of the way. About halfway through, Montreal was called on a minor penalty with 1:40 to go.

The Riveters had five shots on this minor power play including a chance at the backdoor by Riveters forward Kelly Babstock. Then with under a minute remaining Force defenseman Christine Deaudelin was flagged for boarding, and it was a major penalty. The Riveters had a 5-3 to start the third period.

The third period was no different in terms of just this fever pitch battling, exchanging of shots off the rush and body checking in either team's zone. The Riveters really put the screws to Montreal with a minute of sustained pressure at the end of the second period thanks to the fact they were on the power play for most of it. Babstock’s line which includes Kendall Cornine was doing a number on the Force's defensemen and they could not clear the puck out of their zone. In the final five minutes, Metro had ten shots bringing their total to 34 for the game but were unable to stretch their lead to two.

The Denouement

The game went to Overtime for the second time in the Riveters’ last four games. They must have a flair for the dramatic because they came out on top this time with a sudden death goal scored during the three-on-three period. Sarah Bujold fought through a check and broke free on a breakaway but pushed the puck too far ahead of herself. Montreal’s goalie rushed her, trying to poke the puck away. Bujold reached out with one hand on her stick and pushed the puck into the net for the game-winner.

The fans who came to the American Dream to watch ended up seeing their dreams come true-- a win for the team named after 'Rosie the Riveter' in their first game of Women's History Month.

The Riveters would not have started out so well if weren’t for Ebba Berglund. In the first period, the Riveters defensemen took a slap shot that ended up being deflected into the net. When asked about it she had a short phrase, “It was a great rebound, so I guess I got a little bit lucky, and it went in."

One of the takeaways from this game was just how evenly matched both teams were. They came into tonight with just three points separating them in the standings. Following the overtime loss, Force head coach, Peter Smith described his feelings.

"We never gave up. In that second period we were really good," said Coach Peter Smith. "But the third period was rough to start with the five-minute penalty and we got pinned in our own end for a stretch during that period but overall, it was a pretty good game of hockey."

The headline of the game was the play of the goaltenders; Tricia Deguire stopped 37 of 39 shots for Montreal, while Katie Burt stopped 27 of 28 for the Riveters. Shanahan who scored Montreal's only goal on the night discussed what her first game at American Dream Mall.

"It was an adjustment for all of us, all of our first time playing here. The music and the background, it's a really cool atmosphere to play in for sure, but it took us a period to adjust." - Montreal forward, Kristina Shanahan

The first star of this game ended up being Sarah Bujold, who scored the game winner in overtime. The Rivs forward discussed what it took to make that play and earn her team's first sudden-death overtime win.

The first thing I said to my teammates was, "we don't wanna go to a shootout, let's end it right away. I was gassed at the end of the game [and on that play] and my teammates really helped me out by keeping possession of the puck in OT and that led to us winning.

The Riveters are back in action tomorrow at 2:00 pm for the second of a back-to-back series with Montreal Force at the American Dream Mall. If that game is anything like this one, it should be worth the price of admission.

Anthony Paradiso
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