The New York Riveters have scored just six goals in three games this season. Much like last season they continue to generate their best scoring chances in the transition game. But unlike last season they have speed up and down their lineup.
The Riveters’ sixth goal of the season gave them an early lead over the Boston Pride in their last game before the Four Nations Cup Break. At the time the Riveters were being badly outplayed but they had just killed a penalty. And then, unexpectedly, they broke through thanks to their speed.
Gruschow made two outstanding plays in less than two seconds to create the scoring chance for the Riveters. Let’s take a look at how the play developed.
Gruschow is able to exit her zone (which is something that the Riveters have been struggling with all season) by chipping the puck past a Pride forechecker. Gruschow then lifts the Pride player’s stick to protect the puck as she moves past her.
Gruschow lunges to spear the puck, which was out of her reach, ahead towards the offensive zone. Note where Janine Weber is in the image below.
Weber, who was watching the play develop, hustles to the puck. When she looks up after corralling it she sees that Gruschow is in the slot and Bray Ketchum is headed towards the far post.
Weber shows great patience waiting for her passing lane. She makes a gorgeous pass around a sliding Pride defender and gets the puck to Ketchum’s tape. Goal light.
The goal was Ketchum’s first of the year. And it was a textbook Ketchum goal. She read the developing play and put herself in one of her favorite spots to execute a one-timer.
Weber picked up her second assist (first primary) in two games this season on the play. It’s no wonder she had one of the best pass assist rates on the team last season with the patience and vision she displayed on the rush for Ketchum’s goal.
But there’s no doubt that the player who made the scoring chance and eventual goal possible was Gruschow. The former RPI captain has quietly had a strong start to her rookie season. And there is clearly a lot more to her game than winning faceoffs.
If you follow Gruschow for the entirety of the .gif you’ll see how quickly she processes the play and gets into position on the rush. All those quick, smart decisions created a great scoring chance for the Riveters. They are the kinds of plays that win hockey games.
This is the kind of play that needs to become the Riveters’ bread and butter. They have to find ways to continue to disrupt zone entries and make things happen in the transition game on the counter-attack. The Riveters’ quick transition on this particular play was helped out by a slow and seemingly disorganized change from the Pride, but this isn’t the first goal they have scored on the rush this season.
And it won’t be their last.
It’s no secret that the Riveters need to find a way to score more goals. They have scored just six in their first three games this season. And, with or without Amanda Kessel in the lineup, their team speed is their surest road to creating more scoring chances.