The New York Riveters and Buffalo Beauts went into last Sunday's game at Aviator Sports & Events Center in the midst of two opposing streaks. The Riveters were looking to continue their winning ways by securing their third victory in a row, while the Beauts were hoping to find a way to win for the first time in their history following a heartbreaking shootout defeat against the Connecticut Whale which earned them their first point. After the final horn sounded, the scoreboard showed 3-1 in favor of the visitors and Buffalo skated off the ice with a burden off their back and their first win under their belt.
For the first time in history we get to say.. BEAUTS WIN!! BEAUTS WIN!!— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) November 30, 2015
Both teams were without key players in their lineups with Meghan Duggan not available for Buffalo and Lyudmila Belyakova and Brooke Ammerman out for New York. The lack of firepower was evident in the early stages of the game as neither team was able to get a puck past Brianne McLaughlin or Nana Fujimoto after 20 minutes of play. However, Buffalo was applying plenty of pressure on New York, generating several chances in the slot that were turned away by phenomenal goaltending from Fujimoto. Despite the lack of goals, Beauts coach Ric Seiling liked what he saw from his team. "I said to the girls, 'That was the best first period we have ever had.' We came out of the gate and we played strong, we played hard. We didn't ease ourselves into the game and that's been one of our issues in the past."
Connor Murphy (@CAMurphy91) November 30, 2015
Another issue which has plagued the Beauts has been their power play deficiencies, and that trend continued against the Riveters. New York also kept a bad habit going with their trips to the penalty box. The team took three first period penalties, two by Celeste Brown who struggled in the game and took another minor penalty in the third period. Coach Chad Wiseman shared his concerns about the Riveters knack for cutting ruts to the sin bin. "Our biggest concern is being in the penalty box every game six or seven times."
When Buffalo did get those power plays, they failed to capitalize. The Beauts were 0-6 with the man advantage on the night and could not get many shots through thanks to Riveters blocking pucks in shooting and passing lanes. Kelley Steadman, who was flying all over the ice in the game and was doing everything but score, echoed that sentiment. "They did a good job reading what we wanted to do, crashing our half-wall and getting in the shooting lanes. I think we just need to work on it a little bit more in practice."
The second period began as a reflection of the first, with both teams generating some chances but unable to solve the goaltenders. However, the tide seemed to be turning in Buffalo's favor. The Beauts started to control the play and spend more time in the offensive zone. It seemed as if they had finally broken through, but an apparent goal was waived off and ruled as incidental goaltender interference after a collision of crashing Riveters and Beauts sent Fujimoto down to the ice and in some distress. Despite staying in the game for the rest of the second period and starting in the third, devastating news for the Riveters surfaced with Fujimoto apparently suffering an injury that could keep her out of the lineup.
Nana Fujimoto being examined at the bench. (Photo Credit: Mike Murphy)
Following the disallowed goal for the Beauts, the Riveters capitalized thanks to a stellar goal by Madison Packer. The tally was a result of Celeste Brown's pressure on a defender, forcing the puck loose and getting it to Packer. The power forward with silky hands executed a textbook curl-and-drag just inside the faceoff circle to the left of McLaughlin and wristed a shot above her glove, finding the twine. It was Packer's third straight game with a goal and gave New York the edge in what seemed destined to be a low-scoring affair.
The Beauts came out strong in the third period, seemingly determined to not let the game get away from them. Fujimoto was stalwart between the pipes, but she finally surrendered a goal at the 8:15 mark off the stick of Devon Skeats who proved to be the hero of the night. Less than four minutes after her wicked snipe, Skeats buried a rebound kicked out by Fujimoto to put the Beauts in front with eight minutes remaining.
Shortly after the second goal against, Fujimoto was replaced by Jen Scrivens who saw her first regular season action for the Riveters. Scrivens was slated to see some ice time in the game and Fujimoto was unavailable for comment following the loss, but all signs point to an injury being the catalyst for Scrivens getting time in the blue paint at that stage in the contest.
Scrivens in the net for the first time of the season. (Video Credit: Mike Murphy)
Scrivens did not face much action, but looked solid in her brief appearance. She was eventually pulled for the extra attacker with the Riveters hunting for the equalizer, but Hailey Browne of the Beauts found the puck and space in front of the empty cage. With seven seconds left, Browne slid the puck in and sealed the first win in her team's history.
The Riveters lost a game and their star goaltender, despite both seeming safe at the start of the third period. Penalty issues, lack of quality offensive chances, and easing up in the third period cost New York their third straight win. For Buffalo, it was an historic night led by Devon Skeats and Brianne McLaughlin. Both teams will be eager to step back on the ice next weekend, the Riveters trying to reclaim the revitalizing feeling of victory and the Beauts reveling in it.
Check out Ryan's photo gallery below.