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Brooke Ammerman Emerging as a Key Two-Way Player

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Her offensive talent was well-documented heading into the NWHL season, but Brooke Ammerman is showing the league that her strong defensive game cannot be ignored.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When the New York Riveters signed Brooke Ammerman in August, the team and its fans knew that they had added a potent offensive weapon to their arsenal. The Wisconsin alum posted a staggering 215 points in 153 games in her collegiate career with the Badgers, which is good for fourth overall on the all-time leading scorer list for the university. Ammerman quickly proved that her offensive prowess followed her from Wisconsin to New York with displays of brilliant stick-handling and goal-scoring in the Riveters' preseason games against the FDNY hockey club and the Minnesota Whitecaps.

However, what may come as a surprise to some has been Ammerman's contributions in all three zones for New York. Through the first four games of the season, the New Jersey native has shown to be a valuable two-way forward on a team which demands its players buy into a 200 foot game.

In the weeks leading up to the inaugural NWHL season, it was evident that the Riveters were not a team designed to blitz their opponents with dazzling offense. New York had embraced a more rugged style of play emphasizing a cohesive system as opposed to relying upon individual player skill. Given the lack of preexisting chemistry and the novelty of the league it was to be expected that the team may need time to settle into their roles and perform to their potential.

However, no team ever wants to lose games regardless of what excuses are available to them. The burden of goal scoring during this developing period was going to fall on players like Ammerman, Janine Weber, and Lyudmila Belyakova to try and secure some wins in the early stages of the season.

Ammerman's shootout goal in the preseason against the FDNY team.

Ammerman answered the call and made New York Riveters history by scoring the first goal in franchise history in the team's first game of the season against the Connecticut Whale. Throughout the inaugural season, the winger has shown a proclivity for creating scoring chances for herself and her teammates with her deft stick-handling and patience.

"My game is my hands and my skill ability, skating isn't my strength. So as a kid I always worked on my hands, all the time with a golf ball around the ice. It's the most fun part of the game, the most fun for me and I've worked years on that."

-Brooke Ammerman, September 27, 2015

The effort put forth by Ammerman and her teammates all culminated following the break in the schedule when the team exacted revenge on the Boston Pride to achieve their first win in a 3-2 game against the team that had delivered them a 7-1 defeat in their last meeting. In that historic game, Ammerman had the primary assist on the game-winning power play goal by Bray Ketchum. What will not show up in the boxscore is the effort that she, and her determined teammates, put forth in their defensive zone to make sure they would be celebrating their win after taking their first ever-lead when Beth Hanrahan scored just seconds after Madison Packer beat the Pride's Lauren Slebodnick.

In the waning minutes of the game, Ammerman blocked a big shot that seemed destined for the back of the net despite how brilliant Nana Fujimoto had been playing. The defensive coverage of the Riveters has been improving since their loss to Boston three weeks ago, and it was exemplified perfectly in that shot block. Ammerman has shown strong play along the boards in her own zone and has bought into the message of the coaches to hound the opposition by tying up sticks and clogging up lanes.

An issue that has plagued the Riveters in the early stages of the season has been the transition game leading to sustained offensive pressure. Possessing the puck for New York depends on their defensive units winning battles to move the puck up the ice and establish pressure and relentless forechecking. Ammerman was strong in the transition game against Boston and her remarkable stick-handling and puck possession have been key in getting the Riveters out of their own end into the attacking third where the team is designed to win every puck battle and wear their opponents down. Ammerman has shown the ability to own the puck and make decisions under duress in all three zones.

As was anticipated, New York has benefited from Ammerman's talent with the puck, but her ability to play solid defense in her own end and transition the play from defense to offense will be crucial in making sure that their first win is merely the first of many.