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Brooke Ammerman fights through Blake Bolden's hold for the puck. New York Riveters at Boston Pride, Semifinals, March 6-7 2016. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini
Womens Hockey

Riveters look to improve power play in 2016-17

Kaitlin S. Cimini/Today's Slapshot

The New York Riveters had the NWHL’s worst power play last season with just a 13.2 percent success rate. But the Riveters were also the team that was most dependent on the man advantage for offense. The Riveters’ power play was built on the playmaking ability of Brooke Ammerman last season. But this season, she is no longer with the team and the Riveters will need to re-invent their attack.

Ammerman’s playmaking was instrumental to Bray Ketchum finishing the season tied with Kelley Steadman for the league lead in power play goals, despite the Riveters’ struggles overall. Her ability to create high-danger scoring chances with precision passing on the power play was unrivaled on last year’s team.

Now, with Ammerman gone, Chad Wiseman has found another forward to serve as the foundation of his power play.

Amanda Kessel is widely expected to eclipse the offensive impact that Ammerman made in New York last season. She was a prolific power play scorer for the Golden Gophers, scoring nearly one-fourth of her goals on the man advantage. Kessel is best known for her finishing ability but she is also an elite passer in the offensive zone.

Kessel had a staggering 21 power play assists, the most in the nation, during her junior year at Minnesota. As dangerous as she is with open ice, her puck skills make her almost unstoppable on the power play. Her presence alone makes the Riveters a significantly more dangerous team on the man advantage.

New York simply didn’t have enough puck movers on defense last season, and it showed on the power play. Wiseman addressed that shortcoming in earnest this offseason. Defenders Kaleigh Fratkin, Milica McMillen, and Courtney Burke are all key additions to the Riveters’ blue line.

Fratkin’s offensive game just continues to get better after her big senior year at Boston University. She was almost a point-per-game player with the Connecticut Whale last season and was dynamic on the power play. Fratkin scored three power play goals and helped give the Whale the league’s best power play with her elite puck-movement on the blue line.

Burke tied for second in the nation in power play assists among defenders last season. She was one of just 11 players in women’s college hockey with 10 or more assists on the man advantage. The left-handed Burke and the right-handed Fratkin could make for a deadly pairing on the power play for the Riveters.

McMillen is another rookie defender that could have a big role on the Riveters’ power play. She tied for sixth in the nation with seven power play goals last season. She is surprisingly mobile for her size and has great instincts with the puck in all three zones. McMillen’s familiarity with Kessel is also something to keep in mind.

The Riveters group of mobile, dangerous blueliners and skilled forwards with great skating ability make the umbrella formation a natural fit. The umbrella formation works well with players that can use long passes to spread out penalty killers. The Riveters should be able to create all kinds of shooting lanes with so many puck-moving defenders on the roster. The improvements made to the team’s personnel should bring with it a much improved power play.

 

Regardless of what formation Chad Wiseman decides to use next season, the Riveters will need a better power play than they had last season. The Riveters ranked second in the league last season in penalties drawn. But because of their one-dimensional power play they failed to punish opposing teams for taking penalties.

This season, thanks to key additions to the blue line and the Kessel signing, that will change. New York’s projected improvement in puck possession at even strength has been big news this NWHL offseason. But the improvements made to the lackluster power play might just be what finally gives the Riveters’ offense some teeth.

Riveters look to improve power play in 2016-17

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