When the clock on the main scoreboard above Nana Fujimoto's net read 0:00 the Riveters had registered 34 shots and 3 goals and the Boston Pride had registered 44 shots and 2 goals. The New York Riveters, after losing 7-1 to the Pride on October 18th at Aviator Sports and Events Center, answered back with an amazing victory on Military Appreciation Night in front of their fans for the franchise's first win.
Both teams were without key players in last night's game. The Riveters were without Lyudmila Belyakova who was injured in the Four Nations' Tournament and the Boston Pride were without top scoring forward Brianna Decker.
The Pride got on the board first when superstar Hilary Knight beat Fujimoto after being set up by Corinne Buie at the 3:51 mark of the first period, but it didn't take long for the Riveters to answer back and get into the driver's seat of the game.
At 7:57 Madison Packer scored her first goal of the season against Lauren Slebodnick when she followed her own rebound. Celeste Brown picked up the crucial assist on the play which was her first point of the season. Just twelve seconds later the New York Riveters took their first-ever lead when captain Ashley Johnston sprung Beth Hanrahan who, while shooting low on Slebodnick, had her stick partially lifted. The resulting change-up shot squeaked through Slebodnick's five-hole and caused the crowd at Aviator to erupt with emotion. The goal was particularly sweet for Hanrahan who had a goal disallowed in the Riveters' last meeting with the Pride.
The second period was scoreless and hard fought by both teams. The Pride came on strong and registered 17 shots on net, all of which Nana Fujimoto turned aside in the best game of her NWHL career. Those who have followed the Riveters in their inaugural season had waited a long time to see what the Rivs looked like playing with a lead. It was well worth the wait.
In the third period New York quickly found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play and they wasted little time in finding what would prove to be a critical insurance goal. Brooke Ammerman picked up an assist on a fantastic shot from Bray Ketchum who scored to make it 3-1 and will go down in the history books as being the New York Riveter to score the first game winning goal. Ketchum's goal came 2:28 into the third chapter of the game.
A late holding penalty by Gabie Figueroa, after the Riveters went into a shell as the game was winding down and the Pride were pushing hard to find a way to tie the game, sent the Pride on the power play. With the goalie pulled, Kacey Bellamy of the Pride picked up a late goal with 29 seconds left in regulation with Knight and Buie picking up the assists. It was a big goal for the Pride, but it wasn't enough. The Riveters won the game and swarmed Nana Fujimoto for their first victory celebration of the season.
Six different Riveters picked up points last night in the team's historic win. Brooke Ammerman played an outstanding two-way game and, along with Celeste Brown, stood out with her battles against Hilary Knight who never seemed to leave the ice for the Pride.
Nana Fujimoto made 42 saves on 44 shots for a .955 SV% in what was, without a doubt, the best game of her NWHL career. Fujimoto deservedly was named the first star of the game in what was an absolutely brilliant performance. Her rebound control was outstanding, her glove was sharp and on point, and she had at least two highlight reel pad saves.
"Her teammates scored a lot today, so it encouraged her to play really well." Nana Fujimoto's translator Nori Matsuura shared in the Riveters' locker room after the game. Fujimoto was quick to deflect praise and celebrate the great play of her teammates, especially her defensemen who were exceptional around the Riveters' net tonight. Boston Pride sticks were tied up when their forwards went hard to the net and the addition of newcomer Sydney Kidd to the blue line proved to be a godsend for the Riveters who were able to roll with six defensemen instead of five.
Riveters' captain Ashley Johnston became the first player on the team to score two points with her assist on Beth Hanrahan's big goal that gave the Riveters their first-ever lead in the first period. I simply cannot say enough about the role that Ashley Johnston plays for the Riveters. Even with a sixth defenseman dressed, Johnston almost certainly logged north of 30 minutes yet again and she was outstanding in all three zones of the ice. Her breakout passing, strength around the net, and ability to eat up grueling, demanding minutes is nothing short of inspirational. Clearly, the Riveters chose their captain very well.
Brooke Ammerman joined Johnston as the second Riveter to score two points on the season with the assist she picked up on Ketchum's game-winning power play goal.
The Riveters will meet the Pride again next Saturday for a matinee game on the road in what is fast becoming a heated, nasty rivalry. The season series is now tied up at 1-1.
More analysis from last night's historic victory is coming. Thanks for reading.
Let's go Riveters.