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New York Riveters Postgame: Game 1, Riveters fall 4-1 to Whale

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Ammerman scores the first goal in franchise history in a losing effort on the road.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Nana Fujimoto got the start for the Riveters this afternoon against the Connecticut Whale. Dani Rylan, the commissioner and founder of the league as well as the general manager of the Riveters, dropped the ceremonial puck for the league's first game.

Riveters Dressed Roster

Forwards: Ammerman, Belyakova, Brown, Holze, Hanrahan, Weber, Fritz-Ward, Ketchum, Packer, Fardelmann

Defensemen: Figueroa, Dosdall, Johnston, Orlando, Moore

Goalies: Nana Fujimoto, Shenae Lundberg

FIRST PERIOD

Early on we got our first look at the Ammerman-Belyakova-Packer line and it looked good throughout the game, especially on the attack.

An early penalty on Kiira Dosdall for interference resulted in the league's first goal. 2:26 into the first period Jessica Koizumi scored on the power play to make it a 1-0 game for the Connecticut Whale. Kelli Stack and Kelly Babstock picked up the assists on the historic goal.

Shortly thereafter Madison Packer, who had a standout game for the Riveters, mixed it up with Molly Engstrom of the Connecticut Whale. The two took matching minors for roughing. During the 4-on-4 play Kelli Stack took a hooking minor giving the Riveters their first-ever power play. The Riveters were able to get some shots on net, but Leonoff was ready and in position for all of them and the Whale did very well in their own zone during the kill, which was a theme throughout the game.

Six minutes into the first period the Riveters had another chance when a thundering shot from Ashley Johnston created a big rebound chance in Leonoff's crease, but the Riveters were unable to score. At 8:15 of the first period Johnston took a penalty for hooking that she didn't agree with (she had let go of her stick) and the Whale went back on their dangerous power play. A diving effort to get the puck out of the zone by Ammerman on the kill and some solid goaltending by Fujimoto kept the Whale off of the scoreboard.

After the power play the Riveters had another golden chance when Lyudmila Belyakova got past the Whale's defense for a breakaway but she was stopped when trying to tuck it past the right pad of Leonoff. Packer nearly jammed home the loose puck to tie the game in the last five minutes of the first.

Some outstanding work by Janine Weber's line earned the Riveters a late power play 17:53 into the first when Danielle Ward was called out for cross-checking. With the late power play both Madison Packer, who was raising hell in front of the net throughout the game, and Beth Hanrahan had some great chances to tie the game late, but Leonoff held them at bay.

After the first period the Riveters trailed 1-0 but had the edge in shots 13 to 9.

SECOND PERIOD

Early in the second period it was all Riveters. Bray Ketchum, who had a big game, nearly banged home a one-timer but was unable to get good wood on the puck. Before Ketchum's chance the Riveters crashed the Whale's crease hard and nearly found a greasy goal, but somehow the puck managed to stay out.

After an offensive zone faceoff win by Belyakova, Brooke Ammerman slammed home a shot to score the first-ever New York Riveters' goal 4:15 into the second period. However, the game would remained tied for only 70 seconds.

Kelli Stack answered right back and Brickner and Fratkin picked up the assists. Kelly Babstock drew a penalty and with the extra attacker on the Whale scored on the delayed penalty.

Shortly thereafter the Belyakova line tilted the ice and Belyakova nearly found a goal with a creative blind shot between her legs after a set-up by Madison Packer but again Leonoff denied the hard-working Riveters.

The game was very nearly 3-1 when Nana Fujimoto was pushed into her net when the Whale had sustained pressure in the Riveters' zone, but somehow Fujimoto kept the puck out and the emphatic "no goal" signal from the referee was deaf to the pleas from the Connecticut Whale who thought that they had gotten another puck past the Riveters' star goaltender.

The Whale went back on the attack and squandered a 2-on-0 opportunity when the hustle and diving effort of Janine Weber pushed a pass away from its target and likely saved a goal. The game was physical throughout regulation, but a big collision between Elena Orlando, a former rugby player, and a forward for the Connecticut Whale sent both players flying and opened up the ice for the Whale to have yet another rush, but the resulting chance was sent over the net by Stack with around 4:30 left in the period.

A power move by Madison Packer that didn't get on net seemed to energize the Riveters in the closing minutes of the period. Shortly after Packer's effort Janine Weber led a rush for the Riveters that looked like it was destined to result in New York's second goal of the game. Bray Ketchum and a few other Riveters had some whacks at the rebound chances in the Whale's crease, but somehow the puck stayed out of the net. Weber's speed on the play was fantastic and should have earned the Riveters a goal, she was a standout performer with 6 shots in the club's losing effort.

After two periods the Riveters led in shots 22 to 14 but found themselves trailing 2-1.

THIRD PERIOD

Nana Fujimoto faced a flurry of action early in the final period, but was sharp in her crease and kept the swarming Whale, who liked to hold onto the puck and take their time on the attack, at bay. After the Whale's early pressure Janine Weber sent a great pass to Morgan Fritz-Ward that was just missed by the Quinnipiac graduate. Beth Hanrahan also had a few big chances in the third and was busy around the Whale's net.

Nana Fujimoto made a series of saves against Kelli Stack's line early in the third period that were absolutely sensational. In a span of 10 seconds Fujimoto made two great saves and another big stop to keep the Riveters alive.

Into the third period the defensive pairings of Johnston with Orlando and Figueroa with Dosdall were mainstays on the ice for the Riveters.

A big turnover in the defensive zone by the Whale created a huge chance for the Riveters when Janine Weber made a near-perfect pass to a streaking teammate that was taken down from behind, but the referee's arm didn't come up. The missed chances early in the third, when the Riveters were playing some of their best hockey in the game, really stung when Kelly Babstock scored by just sneaking the puck through Nana Fujimoto's five hole at the 10:08 mark of the third period. Kelli Stack picked up an assist on the goal that gave the Whale a 3-1 lead.

At 11:38 the Whale struck again when Brooke Ammerman turned the puck over right in front of Nana Fujimoto's crease when she was trying to do too much on her own in the Riveters' zone. Fujimoto somehow stopped the first gifted chance, but the second shot from Shiann Darkangelo got past Nana. Micaela Long picked up the assist on the goal that made it a 4-1 game a little over halfway through the third period.

A big scrum in front of the Whale's net that left Smolentseva doubled-over in pain for a moment and another rebound-creating blast from Ashley Johnston's stick that Celeste Brown just missed cashing in on were the two big moments for the Riveters in the second half of the third period. Elena Orlando and Battaglino got matching minors in the nasty scrum in front of Leonoff's net. Their penalties were the last of the game.

When the horn sounded the Riveters had managed to outshoot the Whale 35 to 29 but the final score was 4-1 in favor of the home team.

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Jaimie Leonoff stopped 35 of the 36 shots she saw this afternoon and was named the first star of the game. Nana Fujimoto faced 29 shots and stopped 25 of them for the Riveters in a strong performance. I'm not sure you can fault Fujimoto on the goals that got past her today. The Riveters, at times, were scrambling desperately in their own zone trying to contain the Stack line and a lot of the Whale's best chances came off of rebounds and quick sticks around the net.

The Riveters really have some work to do with their chemistry and transition game. The Ammerman goal was an encouraging sign for a line that will need to produce for the Riveters, but the women with Rosie the Riveter on their jerseys could have won this game if not for the sensational performance by Jaimie Leonoff.

Ketchum had 7 shots in the game and Weber had 6 shots, making them the early safe bets for Corsi monsters for the Riveters. Beth Hanrahan and Madison Packer both had very strong games on the attack for the Riveters and Gabie Figueroa and Ashley Johnston were the standouts on the blue line. Great to see that Taylor Holze and Amber Moore dressed for the Riveters. Jenny Scrivens and Sydney Kidd were the healthy scratches.

Thanks for reading. The Riveters next game will be their home opener at Aviator on October 18th. I'll be in the press box for that one and will have some better notes on the game.

Click below to check out Ryan's photo gallery!