The Riveters were without Lyudmila Belyakova and Sydney Kidd for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Whitecaps and Jenny Scrivens had the night off, but their final preseason game (the regular season gets underway on the road next Sunday against the Connecticut Whale) featured the debut of Nana Fujimoto from Smile Japan (Japan's national team). Nana Fujimoto came in for New York in the second period in what we learned after the game was her first time skating with her Riveters teammates.
Penalties and issues with the transition game would prove to be obstacles that were too great for the Riveters yesterday afternoon and will be something that coach Wiseman is going to have to work on with the regular season just a week away.
Shenae Lundberg from Union College played for the first half of yesterday's game against the Minnesota Whitecaps and their five USWNT members. Monique Lamoureux, Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, Mira Jalosuo, Alex Rigsby, and the outstanding goaltender Jessie Vetter, who was in net for the Whitecaps for the entire game, are all decorated members of the United States' national team and were all on the roster for the most recent IIHF tournament. With so much talent in the crease and on the back line the Whitecaps proved to be a difficult team to generate quality scoring chances against.
Last Sunday's game against FDNY was pretty physical for a coed, exhibition game, but it didn't compare to the scrums, penalties, and healthy serving of nasty that was on the ice at Chelsea Piers after the puck was dropped at noon on October 4th. The Minnesota Whitecaps played a high-energy, tough hockey game against the bigger, stronger Riveters. Minnesota played like a team that had something to prove after falling 8-4 to the Connecticut Whale on Saturday. Their attack was unrelenting and earned them all kinds of scoring chances and power play opportunities that eventually proved to be the difference in the preseason tilt.
After an early power play that came from a slashing call by Anne Schleper 2:40 into the first period, the Riveters found themselves on the penalty kill for a significant margin of the first period. 4:36 into the first chapter of the game Celeste Brown was called for holding and while the Riveters were killing off the penalty Janine Weber very nearly had a breakaway, but the savvy and aggressive play of Olympian Jessie Vetter foiled that chance when she charged the loose puck and knocked it away from the incoming Weber. It appears that Wiseman likes Weber playing down the middle. He deploys her regularly for defensive zone draws which was also true of Brooke Ammerman, but early on it appears that the top penalty killing forward for New York through the preseason was the Austrian-born Weber.
7:50 into the first the Riveters were back on the kill after Kiira Dosdall threw a body check along the boards. On the penalty kill Shenae Lundberg was absolutely brilliant for the Riveters and Ashley Johnston continued her exemplary defensive play. Riveters fans are quickly going to fall in love with Johnston's big shot and intelligent, shut-down play in her own zone if they haven't already. In the second half of the first period Elena Orlando, a key defenseman for the Riveters and Johnston's defensive partner, took a delay of game penalty when the puck missed the corner boards and found the netting at Chelsea Piers. A group of the Riveters led by Ammerman and Figueroa debated the call because it is apparently not going to be a rule we see in the NWHL (according to something Wiseman suggested after the game), but the penalty stood and it cost the Riveters dearly.
Madison Packer had a huge block on the ensuing penalty kill just thirty seconds in.
Packer was a standout in yesterday's game in both ends of the ice.
Ryan's Photo Gallery From the 5-2 Loss
The Riveters took on the Whitecaps in their second and final preseason game.
But the Whitecaps moved the puck well and with 0:38 left on the power play and 5:13 remaining in the first period, the Whitecaps broke through on the power play. Mira Jalusuo's point shot got through the traffic in front of Lundberg to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead, Brooke White-Lancette picked up the assist on the game's first goal.
The final five minutes in the first period saw the Riveters earn a quality scoring chance thanks to a sweet move by Beth Hanrahan who tried to go around and out-wait Vetter, but the outstanding defense and elite goaltending of the Whitecaps stymied her display of skill. With 2:31 left in the period the Whitecaps continued to put the pressure on with their relentless attack, but New Jersey-born Gabie Figueroa came up huge by getting the puck out of the crease and off the goal line to save a certain goal. Lundberg gave Figueora an appreciative tap across her shin pads for the extra effort and heads-up play.
With 1:09 left in the first period there was a big scrum in the Whitecaps' defensive zone in front of the Riveters' fans when the Riveters were able to get some sustained pressure late in the first period. There were a lot of friends and smiles off the ice, but when these two teams took to the ice it was all business. After the first period the shots were 14 to 8 in favor of the Whitecaps thanks to their power play chances and some trouble that the Riveters had getting the puck out of the zone.
The first five minutes of the second period saw some good pressure early on from the Weber line for the Riveters, but two quick goals by the Whitecaps had the Riveters down 3-0 in a hurry. 3:56 into the period the Whitecaps cashed in on a two-on-one when Allie Thurnstrom buried a great feed from Rachel Bona that beat Lundberg's desperate, spinning attempt to stop it. Then, just 44 seconds later, the Lamoureux twins worked together to score a beautiful goal with Jocelyn Lamoureux finishing off a quality scoring chance after being set up by her sister Monique.
Several minutes after the Whitecaps' third goal Nana Fujimoto came in for Lundberg. Fujimoto received a huge ovation from the Riveters' faithful at Chelsea Piers and she was sensational in her debut. 6:14 into the second period the Riveters finally had a chance to catch their breath and settle down thanks to a penalty called on Winny Brown of the Whitecaps. The Riveters had a few good looks on the power play, but were frustrated by being unable to get anything past the outstanding Jessie Vetter who was a brick wall for the majority of the game.
At the 7:43 mark of the second period the Riveters finally broke through when Iowa-born Morgan Fritz-Ward's goal beat Vetter after the Riveters were able to keep up some sustained pressure in Minnestoa's zone. Erin Barley-Maloney and Ashley Johnston picked up assists on the Riveters first goal of the afternoon and the bench and stands erupted with emotion.
A dangerous cross-check by Winny Brown at the halfway point of the second period that sent Janine Weber into the boards face first was the scariest moment of the game, but thankfully Weber got right back up. The Riveters didn't get much going on the ensuing power play.
A scary play, thankfully Weber bounced right back up.
With 8:00 left in the second period Erin Barley-Maloney was called for a hook and the Riveters went back on the kill with Fujimoto in net. They were able to successfully kill off the Whitecaps' power play which they had simply given too many chances to throughout the game.
With 5:00 left in the second period a scrum broke out in front of the Whitecap's net after a point blast by Johnston left a juicy rebound that resulted in Madison Packer of the Riveters getting shoved up high by a Whitecap defenseman. Packer, who clearly wasn't fond of taking a shot to the head, ripped the offending player's stick out of her hands and the resulting stare-down was all anyone will ever need to know about her compete level. The Detroit-born power forward is going to take some lumps and bruises parked in front of the opposition's net, but her strength and toughness will make her a standout on the Riveters' roster. She'll quickly become a fan favorite at Aviator this season.
Yep, Madison Packer is a badass.
With 3:24 left in the first period Amber Moore of the Riveters found herself in the penalty box after a holding call, but Nana Fujimoto bailed Moore and her teammates out with a display of sensational shorthanded goaltending. Fujimoto piled up at least 3 saves on the ensuing power play and, just after the Riveters killed off the Whitecaps' chance and Moore switched out at the bench for Bray Ketchum. The Yale graduate Ketchum beat Vetter low to make it a 3-2 game. The Riveters' fans rose out of their seats and hollered for their plucky team and the late goal that came after a huge penalty kill.
A big goal from Bray Ketchum.
After the second period the Riveters were behind in shots 27 to 18 thanks to Minnesota's five power play opportunities through the first two periods of the game. Despite being out-chanced and all of the Whitecaps' power plays, the Riveters were trailing only 3-2 after two thanks to cashing in on two of their scoring chances.
Early chances from Madison Packer and Meghan Fardelmann were foiled by the goaltending of Jessie Vetter and kept the Riveters down a goal despite a great start to the third period. Later on in the third Ashley Johnston felt some pressure in her own zone and was called for a delay of game when her puck found the netting instead of the glass at Chelsea Piers (the second delay of game call on the Riveters in the game), giving the Whitecaps their sixth power play of the game. With 30 seconds left on the power play and with Johnston, a key defeneseman, in the box the Whitecaps jumped up to a 4-2 lead with a PPG from Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson with her sister Monique picking up the assist.
Later on in the third period Gabie Figueroa of the Riveters took a penalty and put the Whitecaps right back on the power play where they found their third PPG of the game to take a 5-2 lead with 6:46 left in regulation. Monique Lamoureux's point blast got through Fujimoto's five hole thanks to a big screen in front of Fujimoto's net, Meghan Lorence and Winny Brown were credited with assists on the final goal of the game. On both of the third period power play goals there wasn't much that Fujimoto could do thanks to being screened and the difficult, low shots that found the net through traffic. It was clear that Fujimoto was frustrated with allowing the two power play goals. At one point in the third period Fujimoto shoved an invading Whitecap out of her crease. There will be no questioning the fire in Fujimoto's heart or her skill in the Riveters' regular season. She's going to give New York a chance to win every night and is the key to the team's outstanding goaltending.
The Riveters were outshot in the third period 5 to 4 by the Whitecaps which meant that the shot total for the game was 33 to 23 in favor of the visiting team. The majority of the third period was played on the perimeter and in the neutral zone after the Whitecaps turned their focus to defense and keeping the Riveters off of the attack which they could afford to do with their comfortable 3 goal lead. The Riveters pulled their goalie with around 2:00 left in regulation, but were unable to get much going with the extra attacker. Gabie Figueora's second penalty of the period (cross checking) that came with just 1:08 left in regulation put an end to any desperate comeback attempt. Fujimoto returned to her crease and when the horn sounded the final score was 5-2 in favor of the Whitecaps.
The Riveters lost on Sunday afternoon because their transition game was inferior to the Whitecaps. Minnesota was a motivated, hungry team looking to make a statement after allowing 8 goals in their loss on Saturday and their star players, including Jessie Vetter and the Lamoureux twins, had big games. The Riveters struggled with breakout passes and getting the puck up the ice, forcing them to rely on capitalizing on mistakes made by the outstanding Whitecap's blue line group and zone entries by Brooke Ammerman and Janine Weber to get their offense going. Too many of the Riveters' passes from their defensive zone to the neutral zone were tipped and picked off by the forecheck of the Whitecaps and they spent far too much time in the box to give them any real chance against a determined Whitecaps team, but that didn't stop the Riveters from playing hard and capitalizing on their few hard-earned chances. The compete level was there and the team will certainly benefit when Lyudmila Belyakova and Sydney Kidd join the team which should happen sometime in the upcoming week according to coach Chad Wiseman.
After regulation the fans at Chelsea Piers were treated to a demonstration of a 3 on 3 shootout. In the shootout Nana Fujimoto stopped 2 of 3 of the Whitecaps' shooters. Fujimoto was beaten by a shifty move from American Olympian Monique Lamoureux who was the Whitecaps' last shooter but she bested Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson and Allie Thurnstrom.
Fujimoto was dazzling in her Riveters' debut.
Bray Ketchum beat Jessie Vetter to score for the Riveters in the shootout. Beth Hanrahan and Janine Weber were the Riveters' other shooters in the skills competition, but neither of the linemates was able to beat the American Olympian.
Bray Ketchum cashes in during the shootout.
The Riveters' regular season opener, a road game against the Connecticut Whale, is now just six days away. The New York Riveters did lose both of their preseason games, but they played two groups who have played a lot of hockey together and in both games there were some very encouraging signs from New York's NWHL franchise. There's no doubt that the blue line and the goaltending are going to be what sets the Riveters apart from the rest of the NWHL, the big question will be where the offense comes from and just how physical this blue collar club can be without getting into penalty trouble against quicker, smaller teams.
My own photo gallery (Ryan's will likely be better), some thoughts on standout performances from the Riveters, and quotes from players from both the Whitecaps and the Riveters as well as coach Chad Wiseman will be coming up soon.
Thanks for reading. Let's go Riveters!