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Beauts earn sixth straight win on Fan Appreciation Night

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Mon, Feb 25th 2019 12:10 pm

The Buffalo Beauts were the hottest team in the NWHL, winning five straight games prior to the league’s All-Star break in mid-February. They returned to the ice Saturday for their first game in 21 days and picked up right where they left off, skating to a 4-1 victory over the Metropolitan Riveters in front 1,572 fans on Fan Appreciation Night. It was the team’s largest crowd at Harborcenter this season.

Despite the three-week layoff, the Beauts didn’t show many signs of rust. The first 15 minutes of the opening period were fast-paced, with both teams trading a number of rushes and scoring opportunities.

“We wanted to make sure we were coming through the neutral zone and moving into pucks,” head coach Cody McCormick said. “I think we did dust off a bit of rust in the first, but it led to a great second period.”

Kelly Babstock was able to find the puck amidst a scramble around the Metropolitan net and scored Buffalo’s first goal with just under five minutes left in first period. The Beauts took the 1-0 lead into the intermission, looking to improve on their 8-1-0 record when leading after 20 minutes this season.

The momentum began to clearly shift in the Beauts’ favor in the second period. After stopping all seven shots she faced in the first, Shannon Szabados started the second period with a big save on a shot that was tipped in the slot, helping the Beauts kill off the remaining seconds of Riveters power play that carried over from the first period.

Less than a minute after the Beauts failed to capitalize on a power play of their own, Taylor Accursi knocked in a rebound past Metropolitan’s Katie Fitzgerald to give the Beauts a 2-0 lead just 4:19 into the period.

Buffalo tacked on another goal before the second intermission, as Emily Janiga stuffed a puck between the goal post and Fitzgerald’s left pad.

The Riveters were able to cut into the lead midway through the third after Rebecca Russo came in on a 2-on-1 and ripped a slap shot past Szabados to narrow the Beauts’ lead to 3-1. However, that was as close as Metropolitan would come to getting back in the game as Szabados shut the door the rest of the way.

The Riveters had a prime chance to make it 3-2 when they came in on a 3-on-1 with about 5:30 to play, but Szabados made her biggest stop of the night, robbing Audra Richards with a huge glove save. Szabados finished the game with 15 saves on 16 shots faced, maintaining the league lead in save percentage.

“There’s definitely a lot of confidence in the locker room,” Szabados said. “As the year has gone on, we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit better, we’ve gotten to know some systems a little better, and we’ve kind of been rolling. The good atmosphere in the dressing room has been translating on the ice.”

Janiga put a bow on the game with her second of the night, an empty net goal with 1:39 to go.

With the win, the Beauts improved to 10-4-0 on the year and wrap up their home schedule with a record of 7-1-0 at home. The team moved into a three-way tie for first place in the NWHL with Boston and Minnesota.

The Beauts’ next game will be on Saturday, March 2, when team takes on the Whale in Connecticut at 6 p.m. They’ll finish the regular season on Sunday, March 3 at Metropolitan.

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