Whitecaps Win NWHL Debut, 4-0 over Riveters, at Sold-Out TRIA Rink
Before an overflow crowd of 1,200 fans at TRIA Rink in Saint Paul, the Minnesota Whitecaps produced a memorable performance in their first-ever NWHL regular season game, defeating the Metropolitan Riveters, 4-0.
"It was an 'a-ha' moment," said original Whitecap Winny Brodt Brown. "When I started playing hockey when I was a kid with boys, I never imagined I would have that moment stepping out in front of a crowd like that."
The Whitecaps utilized their speed and depth throughout the lineup - a roster comprised overwhelmingly of players who were raised or played collegiately in the State of Hockey - to at times dominate the defending Isobel Cup champion Riveters.
"We have speed, and it's hard to beat speed," said Brown, who added that she had chills during the anthem.
Amanda Leveille, the former player at the University of Minnesota and with the Buffalo Beauts, had the shutout for the Whitecaps. This was the first time in their history that the Riveters were shut out in a regular season game.
It was Katie McGovern who made history for the Whitecaps. McGovern scored the team's first NWHL goal, a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Jonna Curtis on the power play with 2:24 left in the first period.
The Riveters nearly answered before the period expired with Kristin Lewicki battling through the Whitecaps' defense to slide a pass to Madison Packer, but Packer's shot went just wide.
Hannah Brandt doubled the Whitecaps' lead early in the second period, tucking in Amanda Boulier's rebound just inside the post 4:12 into the second period.
Amanda Kessel tried to get the Rivs on the board, one-timing a pass through the slot from Rebecca Russo midway through the second, but Leveille was there to deny Kessel. Moments later, Kessel rang a shot off the crossbar.
Kate Schipper pushed the advantage to 3-0 for the Whitecaps 3:34 into the third, burying a high shot through traffic off a pass from Kendall Coyne Schofield. In the final seconds, U.S. Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield, who dazzled the fans at TRIA Rink with her speed from her opening shift, deposited the empty-net goal to complete the scoring.
"It was great; there was a lot of energy," said Coach Ronda Engelhardt. "That's what you want. You want it to be loud. You want fans to come out and enjoy the experience."
The teams square off again on Sunday at TRIA Rink, in a game that is also sold out but will be available LIVE on YouTube with Kelly Schultz on play-by-play and Alexis Pearson providing analysis.
For the Riveters, we will see if they can tackle the challenge of facing the juggernaut Whitecaps in the second leg of back-to-backs.
For the Whitecaps, and the hockey fans of Minnesota, Saturday was a day to savor - and one for the history books.
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National Women's Hockey League Stories from October 6, 2018
- Whitecaps Win NWHL Debut, 4-0 over Riveters, at Sold-Out TRIA Rink - Minnesota Whitecaps
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