One of the biggest highlights from the Riveters' home opener was Gabie Figueroa making history by scoring the first ever New York Riveters goal on home ice at Aviator Sports and Events Center last Sunday night. Figueroa's goal was scored 18:23 into the second period during four on four hockey after Madison Packer and Blake Bolden took coincidental roughing penalties (Packer's was a double minor). The open ice was a perfect recipe for Gabie Figueroa and her superlative skating ability to finally break through for the New York Riveters.
She would, however, need more than just her legs to score on Britanny Ott of the Boston Pride. Fittingly, on a team that is all about work ethic and blue-collar hockey it was Figueroa's second and third effort that put the Riveters on the board and made history at Aviator in the final minutes of the second period.
Alyssa Gagliardi attempted a pass to Brianna Decker, but pressure from Riveters' forward Lyudmila Belyakova and a perfect read by Gabie Figueroa created a turnover that Figueroa quickly turned into a scoring chance for the Riveters. Watch how quickly Figueroa pounces on the pass, pushes it past Gagliardi, and rockets up the ice towards the Pride's net.
Figueroa nearly scored with her first shot on Ott, but it took a second and possibly a third shot and whack to get the puck out from under the Pride's goaltender and loose again. After freeing the puck and keeping possession with Meagan Mangene and Gagliardi all over her, Figueroa went for the wrap-around and was met by Jordan Smelker of the Pride. Figueroa's quick feet and quicker thinking let her tuck the puck into the open net before Smelker could tie her stick up and keep her from scoring. Smelker ended up on top of a smiling Figeuroa who looked up from her stomach at her teammates as the celebration for her goal began in earnest.
Brittany Ott shared her thoughts on Figueroa's goal after the game:
"I just got pinned on the side of the net and had it partly covered, but the ref was right there and could see the whole thing. It just squirted out and she tucked it in on the other side."
Figueroa's goal was just the second regular season goal in New York Riveters' history and the first goal scored on home ice by a New York Riveter. Ashley Johnston, Lyudmila Belyakova, and Taylor Holze were the other Riveters on the ice for the franchise's first goal on home ice. Figueroa also scored a goal in overtime against the FDNY team during the preseason in late September and has been one of New York's most prominent and exceptional players early in the NWHL's inaugural season.
Just listen to the crowd at Aviator and look at Figueroa's celebration. Priceless.
Thanks for reading. Let's go Riveters.
Note: Video shot by Connor Murphy