After landing in Japan at midnight of December 15, eastern time, the New York Riveters had just 28 hours to adjust and prepare for their first game against Smile Japan, the Japanese National hockey team. It was to be the first of three exhibition games between the teams.
Nana Fujimoto, who won Best Goalkeeper playing with Japan at the 2015 IIHF World Women's Championship, got the start in net for her old team, while Jenny Scrivens got the nod for the Riveters. Japan opened the game with a very strong forecheck, commanding most of the chances, and it paid off 13:02 into the period, as they took a 1-0 lead.
The Riveters did have some chances, and late in the period had a power play opportunity to tie the game. They couldn't get anything set up, however, and the first period ended with a 1-0 Japan lead.
The start of the second period was much the same as the first; Japan put a lot of pressure on the Riveters. This time, New York was able to withstand the pressure, and 4:29 into the period, Amber Moore tied the game at 1 with a shot from the point.
After Moore's goal, there was a considerable shift in momentum, as the Riveters began to control the puck and get shots on net. With 11:24 remaining in the period, Beth Hanrahan fired a wrist shot that beat Fujimoto over the shoulder, but hit the crossbar. It would be a sign of things to come, however, as a minute and a half later, Lyudmila Belyakova gave the Riveters a 2-1 lead.
After the Belyakova goal, Mai Kondo came in to replace Nana Fujimoto in net. There didn't seem to be any injury to Fujimoto, so it's assumed this was a pre-planned swap.
Now trailing 2-1, Japan really upped the pressure for the second half of the period. They had a penalty to kill with 6:20 remaining, but got themselves some great shorthanded chances. With 3:05 remaining in the second, they had this incredible chance to tie after getting Jenny Scrivens out of position, but they were unable to capitalize. The second period ended with a 2-1 Riveters lead.
The third period opened with a penalty kill for the Riveters, in which they were successful. After that, the teams traded chances, but both goalies came up with some big stops for their team. Finally, the Riveters were able to add an insurance goal with 6:01 remaining in the third. Madison Packer scored a power play goal after finding a loose puck get by Kondo, and gave the Riveters a two goal lead.
Japan made a strong final push, but the 3-1 lead was enough, and the Riveters held on to take game one. And at the end of the day, teammates are teammates.
These two teams will be back in action tomorrow, time to be announced. For more highlights, check my twitter @ryanohan. Thanks for reading and go Riveters!