Forward Kate Schipper (#6) led the Whitecaps in scoring with 1-3--4 on the weekend. Photo: Susan Rennis McPherson
Over 1,200 fans packed the TRIA Rink in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday, Oct. 6, to welcome the Minnesota Whitecaps to the NWHL. The standing room only crowd cheered as the Whitecaps opened the inaugural season with a 4-0 win over the Metropolitan Riveters. Four different Whitecaps scored goals and former University of Minnesota and Buffalo Beauts goalie Amanda Leveille had her first shutout as a Whitecap.
Katie McGovern (assist: Jonna Curtis) lit the lamp while on a power play at 13:29 in the first period, making history with the first Whitecaps goal. Hannah Brandt added a second goal at 4:12 (assists: Kate Schipper, Lee Stecklein), and Schipper scored at 3:34 in the third (assists: Kendall Coyne Schofield; Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal). Coyne Schofield added an empty netter at 19:04 in the third to end the Riveters chances of a win.
“It was a dream that came true” said Whitecaps captain Winny Brodt Brown. “To see all the support from the Minnesota fans showed the time was now for the Whitecaps to be professional and join the NWHL. It was a huge day for the girls' and women’s hockey players in Minnesota. I can’t wait for the future and what is in store for this team.”
Four members of the gold-medal winning 2018 U.S. Women's Olympic Team took the ice on Saturday and Sunday - Whitecaps center Hannah Brandt, forward Kendall Coyne Schofield and defender Lee Stecklein, and Riveters forward Amanda Kessel.
The Whitecaps completed the weekend sweep on Sunday with a 3-1 win in front of another sold-out crowd. The Whitecaps struck first at 10:25 in the first when Amanda Boulier (assists: Schipper, Brandt) put the puck past Riverters' Katie Fitzgerald. The Riveters fired back at 18:38 when Jenny Ryan (assists: Amanda Kessel, Courtney Burke) buried a goal on the power play.
The Whitecaps came storming back in the second with goals by Jonna Curtis at 8:20 (Allie Thunstrom, Stecklein) and Brandt at 13:24 (assist: Schipper). All of the Whitecaps goals were even strength. Leveille stood tall in net for the win.
“It was great to start the season with two wins on home ice,” Brandt said. “We play fast and we used that this weekend, and if we keep using our speed, we’ll be tough to beat.”
Schipper finished the weekend as the Whitecaps' leading scorer with 1-3--4, followed by Brandt with 2-1--3. Leveille stopped 40 of 41 shots in the series.
The Whitecaps and Riveters finish their season series on Oct. 20-21, in Newark, N.J.
Minnesota Whitecaps co-captain Winny Brodt Brown. Photo: Susan Rennie McPherson