NWHL

Dominant Pride Spoil Laden’s Riveters Debut

Last night Chelsea Laden’s New York Riveters debut was spoiled by the visiting Boston Pride. The last time these two teams met, the Pride routed the Riveters, 8-1. After the dust settled at the Aviator Sports and Events Center last night, the Boston Pride crowded around Brittany Ott in celebration of a 6-1 victory as they improved to 8-1-1 in their last ten games. The Riveters were once again left with more questions than answers after the final horn sounded.

Early in the first period when Kelly Cooke banged home a rebound from Alyssa Gagliardi’s blast from the point, it would prove to be just the first time of several that the Pride’s blue line created some offense.

After Cooke’s goal, the Riveters answered back less than a minute later when Ludmila Belyakova scored her fifth of the season with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle. Belyakova’s goal, which was New York’s ninth power play goal of the season.

However the Pride would go on to score two more goal that period, including a power play goal of their own from Jillian Dempsey. Dempsey later picked up the primary assist on Gigi Marvin’s late first period goal on her way to earning the first star of the game.

Boston took seven minor penalties in the second period whereas the normally aggressive Riveters took only three. Rachel Llanes, Emily Field, Meghan Fardelmann, and Belyakova all took coincidental minors with five minutes left in the period. Despite having an extra woman on the ice for more than half of the second period, New York just couldn’t build off of their earlier power play success despite their 5-on-3 chances against Ott and the Pride.

The only goal of the second period came in the first five minutes, when Zoe Hickel scored her third of the season, assisted by Alyssa Gagliardi and Ott.

In the third, Brianna Decker didn’t give the Riveters much time to mourn their wasted power play opportunities. It took just five minutes for a two-on-one rush to develop, where Decker ripped a shot top corner over Laden’s shoulder to give the Pride a 5-1 lead. In the final three minutes, Hilary Knight kept her goal scoring streak alive when she beat Laden low on the rush and pushed Boston’s lead to five goals.

According to the NWHL, the Pride put 36 shots on net to the Riveters’ paltry 17 and managed to out-shoot them 10 to 8 in the second period despite being shorthanded the majority of the time.

After the game Chelsea Laden expressed disappointment in the final result, but not in the work ethic of her teammates. “As much as the score wasn’t the greatest… it might be a little discouraging. It really didn’t show how this team played,” Laden reflected after the game, “It was just incredible to be on a team that literally battled no matter what the score was. The last thirty seconds of the game you had people blocking shots. Just as a goalie, moving forward, that’s really incredible.”

The Riveters’ inability to manufacture quality scoring chances at even strength, and especially on the power play, proved to be their undoing. Beth Hanrahan and Celeste Brown, who had solid defensive games against Knight and Boston’s top line, drew a few penalties each but the Riveters were unable to make Boston pay for their lack of discipline.

Despite scoring early in the game, Belyakova didn’t see much time on the power play later during the match. Head coach Chad Wiseman also called Kiira Dosdall’s number for the man advantage instead of captain Ashley Johnston’s. It’s become clear that the Riveters are looking for offense wherever they can find it at this point, and Wiseman is focusing on figuring out the power play before the postseason arrives.

If the Riveters and Pride meet again, it will be in the playoffs. New York will play its last home game of the regular season next Sunday when they host the Beauts and then they will end their season with two consecutive road games in Buffalo and Connecticut.

The Boston Pride play their final home game on Valentine’s Day against the Whale and then, like the Riveters, they too will wrap up their regular season with two consecutive road games.

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