One of the big stories of Game One of the New York Riveters and Boston Pride series in Beverly, Massachusetts started well before the puck was dropped for the opening faceoff. Nana Fujimoto, the All-Star goaltender that has all four of the Riveters’ wins this season, including their two against the Boston Pride, was not dressed for the game. Also missing from the lineup for New York was alternate captain Morgan Fritz-Ward, who also missed the team’s regular season finale against the Whale.
Through the first several minutes of the first period, the game was relatively even, despite the Riveters failing to generate any real scoring chances.
Brianna Decker broke the tie and starting the ball rolling for Boston when she scored the first goal of the game on the power play. Decker’s goal, which was set up beautifully by Jillian Dempsey, came after Kiira Dosdall ended a Riveters’ power play with an undisciplined body check.
Decker’s goal was the first in NWHL playoff history, but it would not be the only puck to get past Scrivens despite countless desperate saves.
With about three and a half minutes left in the first, the Pride scored their second power play goal of the game from the stick of Zoe Hickel who was also set up by Dempsey. At the end of the first period the Pride had outshot the Riveters by a staggering 24 shots to 4.
Needless to say, Scrivens was hard at work to keep the Riveters down by just two goals through the first twenty minutes of the game.
The Pride kept their foot on the gas in the second period. After a post was hit by Bray Ketchum, who saw a point streak come to an end tonight, it was all Boston Pride. The home team scored three straight even strength goals in six minutes. Pelkey, Decker, and Knight all hit the back of the net while the Pride kept the ice tilted and poured another 14 shots on the Riveters’ net.
Scrivens learned that she would be starting just before the game according to the NWHL’s broadcast. She faced 38 shots and allowed five goals though the second. As things started to spiral out of control, it was clear the Riveters were playing like a beaten hockey team by how they listlessly glided to the bench and spent most of the second period puck-watching and not moving their legs.
“We were studying a lot of tape, we knew what we were coming up against. I mean, we’ve played them six times already,” Scrivens said after her 50 save game. “So, we were working on special teams and what it was going to take to win. I guess we didn’t execute that at times when we needed to do it for a full sixty [minutes].”
The third period didn’t have the same frantic pace to it that the first two periods did. The only goal in the third was scored by Dempsey on the power play in the final two minutes of regulation. Dempsey’s goal might have been scored in “garbage time” of a blow out game, but her three assists in the game that went along with it speak volumes about the impact she had on the game.
Head coach Chad Wiseman and the Riveters are going to have to dig deep to find a way to put more than just 17 shots on net in sixty minutes in Game Two. Brittany Ott, who earned her second shutout of the year, managed to stay sharp despite not seeing action for long stretches of the game. New York also has to do better by their goaltender and make a better effort to limit Boston’s scoring chances while finding chances of their own.
The Riveters are also going to have to find a way to control their emotions and anger after what turned out to be a Game One rout on the road. New York’s lack of discipline wasn’t the main problem in the game, but it enabled the Pride to find their confidence and start scoring in bunches. Things will need to be a great deal different tomorrow night if New York is going to stay in the Isobel Cup Playoffs and not be swept in two games by the Pride.
“That’s the main thing about the playoffs, we need to forget about this and move on,” Johnston told the media after the game. When asked what the key to Game Two for New York was the Riveters’ captain kept it short and sweet while making her frustration evident: “Work hard. We all have a fire under our ass right now.”
Quotes provided by Today’s Slap Shot’s Kate Cimini, @k_cimini