The New York Riveters entered the weekend homestand looking to extend a three game point streak (2-0-1). After an ugly 3-5 loss against the Buffalo Beauts on Saturday and a heartbreaking 2-3 shootout loss to the Boston Pride on Sunday, New York dropped to third place in the standings with six points in eight games played.
The main storyline heading into these games was the unexpected retirement of all-star forward and alternate captain Morgan Fritz-Ward. The Iowa native announced late last week that the game against the Boston Pride on December 4 would be her last before she heads back home to continue her education and take the next step in her off-ice career. The Riveters hoped for a victorious sendoff for their beloved leader and fan-favorite player, but the Beauts and Pride had other plans.
Saturday, December 3 - Buffalo vs. New York (5-3)
Buffalo Scorers - D. Skeats (E. Janiga, S. Casorso), J. Greco (K. Kunichika), E. Pfalzer (HD. Skeats, H. Browne), S. Darkangelo (Unassisted), M. Bozek (S. Darkangelo)
New York Scorers - A. Gruschow (K. Fratkin, R. Russo), M. Packer (A. Gruschow, R. Russo), K. Dosdall (B. Ketchum, R. Russo)
Goalies - W: A. Leveille (25/28), L: K. Fitzgerald (29/34)
New York came out of the gate stumbling against a Buffalo team missing key players from their lineup. The Beauts dominated the early game against the sluggish Riveters. Devon Skeats scored her second of the season and Jacquie Greco scored her first NWHL goal in a span of a minute midway through the period to get Buffalo the lead. Alexa Gruschow of the Riveters responded with her first NWHL goal on the powerplay in the final minute of the period.
Madison Packer tied the game early in the second period with her second of the season, but Buffalo captain Emily Pfalzer reestablished the lead less than two minutes later with her first of the season. Both goalies struggled for stretches of the game.Buffalo's Amanda Leveille was not tested much in the first half of the game and New York's Katie Fitzgerald had her weakest game since gaining the starting job last month.
Shiann Darkangelo added a goal to start the third period and an assist on Megan Bozek's tally near the end of the period. Kiira Dosdall banged home a powerplay goal in between the Buffalo bookend goals in her return to the lineup following an upper-body injury which sidelined her for a game.
The @BuffaloBeauts celebrate their 5-3 road win as the teddy bears begin to fly. #NWHL— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) December 4, 2016
Photo Credit: @CAMurphy91 pic.twitter.com/N0JAgT3Isa
New York found their game and played some of their finest hockey of the season in the latter stages of the contest, but their slow start doomed them to their first regulation loss in four games. They would look to build off of that improved play the following day when they would host the undefeated Boston Pride.
Sunday, December 3 - Boston vs. New York (3-2 SO)
Boston Scorers - M. Duggan (J. Dempsey, K. Bellamy), A. Carpenter (Unassisted)
New York Scorers - B. Ketchum (J. Weber), A. Johnston (A. Gruschow, B. Ketchum)
Goalies - W: B. Ott (26/28), L: S. Shin (33/35)
NYR || Packer (MISS) || Russo (SAVE) || D'Oench (MISS) || Fratkin (SAVE) ||
BOS || Marvin (SAVE) || Decker (SAVE) || Pelkey (SAVE) || Hickel (GOAL ||
With two games in 24 hours, Sojung Shin started in net for the Riveters for the second game of their back-to-back. The South Korean national goalie hoped to put forth a better effort than the last time she faced the Pride over a month ago, a game in which she was chased in the second period. She had not seen any playing time since that game until Sunday.
If New York stumbled out of the gate in the game against Buffalo, they fell flat on their faces to begin their contest against the deadly Boston Pride. Within the first 4:02 of the first period, the Pride seized a 2-0 lead thanks to Meghan Duggan at even strength and Alex Carpenter while shorthanded. Again, New York salvaged some hope in the late stages of the period with a goal from Bray Ketchum off of a loose puck offensive zone draw.
The Riveters rallied after their catastrophic start. Shin showed exemplary mental fortitude after the rough start and found herself in the zone for the following 60 minutes of play. The team in front of her held off the assault from the Pride in a physical second period in which the teams traded several penalties. New York failed to capitalize on an extended 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity which could have led to a monumental momentum shift. However, captain Ashley Johnston scored a clutch game-tying goal late in the period from a soft point shot that took a fortuitous bounce past Brittany Ott.
The third period was a shutdown period for both teams. Shin continued her excellent play and Ott turned aside brief surges from New York, including a late powerplay. The two teams each secured a point as the game went to overtime. The deadlock was not broken in the extra frame so a shootout was needed. For New York, Russo and Fratkin were denied by Ott while Packer and D'Oench failed to hit the net. Sojung Shin turned aside attempts from Marvin, Decker, and Pelkey before Hickel beat her through the legs to give Boston the 3-2 win.
A picture is worth.......... @fritz_ward @madison_packer_ @strettyit @taytwofour @bdk27 @j9weber15 @KDosdall pic.twitter.com/Ip7AORzqIN— Troy Parla (@TroyParla) December 5, 2016
Morgan Fritz-Ward was swarmed at center ice following the game. She received a standing ovation from the fans and hugs from teammates before the team posed for a picture. New York did not get the result they wanted for the fans, themselves, and especially for Fritz-Ward, but their valiant effort against the powerhouse Pride was commendable. It was only the second time all season that Boston was forced into a shootout. New York will try to hold onto that silver lining heading into next weekend's game against the Connecticut Whale.
For the first time, Morgan Fritz-Ward will not be joining them on that trip. We here at Blueshirt Banter congratulate Fritzy on her historic career as a pioneer of professional women's hockey. She exemplified New York Riveters hockey with her dedication to the game and her teammates both on and off the ice. She represented the Riveters as an all-star and an alternate captain, endearing herself to fans of the Rosies from day one. We wish her luck in her future endeavors.