Scrivens’ Performance Not Enough In Loss

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Cimini

Prior to Sunday’s game at the Bright Hockey Center in Allston, Massachusetts, the Riveters had won their last two meetings against the star-studded Boston Pride, but they had their work cut out for them last night with both Nana Fujimoto and Shenae Lundberg injured and unable to dress for the grudge match.

The Riveters signed Boston College standout Corinne Boyles to a one-day contract in the NWHL’s first “call up” to serve as the backup to Jenny Scrivens, making her first start in six years. The Pride had tired legs from their 7-6 Saturday victory over the Buffalo Beauts, but were hungry to win their second game of the weekend and continue their display of offensive firepower against the Riveters. New York have scored just ten goals in their first six games of the season and had yet to find a way to get their power play going.

Scrivens, a graduate of Cornell University, was tested early and often by the big guns of the Boston Pride. New York’s goaltender, who also works for the league in a public relations position, was nothing short of sensational throughout the game, She was especially good in the first two periods of the game despite the half a dozen years that had passed since her last start. Scrivens faced 37 shots and yielded just two goals to the Pride on Sunday.

The first period clearly belonged to the Boston, handily out-shooting and out-chancing the Riveters. New York had to lean on their goaltender and squandered some of their best chances with flubbed shots, including a golden opportunity for Brooke Ammerman. She found herself in front of the net alone with Ott, but unable to tuck the puck under her.

The Pride were careless in their own zone several times last night and the Riveters’ forechecking looked dangerous, which it has been known to do. Bray Ketchum picked off an overly casual pass in Boston’s zone and had a prime scoring chance, but Brittany Ott was equal to the task despite having had some trouble with the Riveters in the past. Most of the Riveters’ best chances appeared to come from their forechecking and their transition game when Boston turned the puck over, but the puck belonged to the home team for the vast majority of the game, reflected in the shot total at the end of each period.

Ashley Johnston was joining the rush a great deal more than usual against the Pride, opening the door for rushes from the Pride, including a two-on-one that was beautifully shutdown by Elena Orlando who had her best game of the season on New York’s blue line. The Pride were relentless in the first period and looked certain to break through at any moment thanks to the speed, chemistry, and skill that is present throughout their lineup. The shot total after the first period was 16 to 6 in favor of Boston.

In the second period the Riveters looked a bit more organized and generated some more scoring chances. Four minutes into the second frame, Morgan Fritz-Ward, flying all over the ice for the Riveters on Sunday, was taken down on a partial breakaway chance when she was trying to get around a Pride defender. She crashed into the end boards and had to be helped off the ice by team trainer Ashley Robbins. Fritz-Ward would return later that period and continue to skate on a line with Madison Packer and Celeste Brown, showing a tremendous amount of heart and determination.

The Pride’s aggressive penalty kill showed very few vulnerabilities against the Riveters, who have been struggling with an abysmally bad power play through the first seven games of the season. They were able to shut down the Riveters easily whilst shorthanded thanks to an outstanding display of structure, communication, and their goaltender who quietly had a brilliant game.

Brittany Ott made a huge pad save on Beth Hanrahan in the second period when the home team was shorthanded. Hanrahan tried to whack home a rebound and get the Riveters on the board, but was unable to beat the fast legs of Ott. The Pride’s goaltender might not have seen the workload that Scrivens saw, but managed to stay sharp and focused for the Pride throughout the game despite long stretches of not seeing any action.

A scary moment in the second had a sobering effect on the goaltending fireworks display from Scrivens and Ott. Taylor Holze of the Riveters was hit in a dangerous and freak play towards the end of the period. Holze went back-first into the open bench door of the Pride’s bench and was on the ice for an extended amount of time. The stretcher was brought out as a precaution for what looked to be a very serious injury for the heart and soul forward from Lynbrook, New York.

The hit appeared to catch the diminutive Holze by surprise and it also came at least partially from behind. The dangerous play resulted in a Riveters power play that proved, once again, to be uneventful. Holze was well enough to tweet after the game and thanked those who expressed their concern for her well being, while making sure to join in the celebration of Scrivens’ amazing game.

Earlier in the second period a shot from Brianna Decker that was stopped by Scrivens floated and danced over the goaltender and hit the post. Decker, as always, looked dangerous and dynamic for the Pride and created a few scoring chances on her own by shooting through screens and getting creative in getting shots on net. There may not be a more dangerous offensive threat in the NWHL than Brianna Decker who, somehow, was kept off the scoreboard against both New York and Buffalo over the weekend.

Twice in the second period the Pride appeared to have sure goals on golden chances, but found themselves stunned by desperation saves from Jenny Scrivens. She made a diving split save to come up with an improbable and jaw-dropping pad stop and erase a goal early in the second period. The Cornell graduate’s highlight reel stop appeared to spark her team and give them some life for the rest of the frame.

She also came up with a sliding glove save while holding one of her defenseman’s sticks on a late Boston penalty kill after losing her goalie stick for the second time in the game. Scrivens might not have started a game in six years, but her performance against the Pride proved that she was very clearly an exceptional goaltender. “It just shows how much effort, time, and work she has put in,” reflected Chad Wiseman during a first intermission interview regarding the strong play of his goaltender.

The final stanza started with some four-on-four hockey after matching minor penalties were handed out, providing a brief glimpse of what many thought would be a certain overtime period given how sensational the goaltending had been. The Riveters found a power play early in the period courtesy of the hard work of Providence graduate Beth Hanrahan, but were flummoxed by Ott and the Pride’s penalty killing, coming up empty once again.

The Pride looked like they would surely break through when a loose puck in the Riveters’ zone was being chased down for a partial breakaway by superstar Hilary Knight. Knight got to the puck first, but was knocked off of it and defended beautifully by Kiira Dosdall of the Riveters who has been one of their most underrated and under-celebrated players this season. However, Boston would not have to dwell on that missed opportunity for long.

Halfway through the third period the rather one-sided goaltending shutout duel finally came to an end, as Jillian Dempsey found a rebound and got it past Scrivens and a diving Ashley Johnston to give the Pride a 1-0 lead. The goal was Dempsey’s third of the season and it came at the halfway point of the third period thanks to a failed zone exit by the Riveters who couldn’t seem to find a way out of their own zone for long stretches of the game.

The Riveters came on strong after Dempsey’s big goal that proved that Scrivens was, in fact, mortal, but it was not enough. Ott was stalwart for the Pride and Boston kept their 1-0 lead until Riveters’ coach Chad Wiseman called a timeout with 3:01 left in the game and pulled his goaltender with :37 seconds left of four-on-four hockey. The extra attacker was not enough to spark the Riveters’ offense, and with 2:22 remaining in regulation Hilary Knight would not be denied, finding the empty net from center ice after winning a battle along the boards with Ashley Johnston.

Just :19 seconds later, Johnston slapped a shot on Boston’s net from the point that was deflected by Meghan Fardelmann. The momentum and life that filled the Riveters bench was taken away less than a minute later when Amanda Pelkey scored her fifth goal of the season with a gorgeous, roofed backhand shot on the rush. The Riveters pulled the goalie in the final minute of the game and with :32.6 seconds left, Hilary Knight scored her second empty-net goal of the game to make it 4-1 for the Pride.

Both Lyudmila Belyakova and Brooke Ammerman had strong games for the Riveters after returning to the lineup this past weekend. Ammerman had missed New York’s last game against the Beauts due to personal reasons and Belyakova had been out of the lineup for a few weeks with an injury.

Amber Moore, a practice player and defender who has dressed in the first six games of the season for New York, did not travel or play in Sunday’s loss to the Pride. Belyakova took her spot in the lineup which meant that the Riveters dressed just five defenseman for the first time since before the arrival of Sydney Kidd. The short bench didn’t do the Riveters any favors. Boston dressed 18 players, including their three goaltenders, and the Riveters dressed 17.

The Riveters are now 2-5-0, with the Pride sitting at 5-3-0. The season series between New York and Boston is now even at two games apiece. The Riveters are tied with the Buffalo Beauts with a total of four points this season, but have one game in hand. The Riveters, already struggling with several injuries, will hopefully get good news on both Morgan Fritz-Ward and Taylor Holze.

New York will be back at Aviator to lock horns with the Connecticut Whale on December 13 before their exhibition series with Team Japan on the other side of the globe. Boston, who won both of their weekend games, will be back on the ice on December 20th when they play host to the Beauts.

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