Note: Due to changing camera angles, approximately 3 minutes of missing video at the top of the third, and general human error this shot chart should not be considered perfectly accurate.
The main story line from last Sunday's win, which was the first victory in the history of the New York Riveters' franchise, was the performance of Nana Fujimoto. Fujimoto stopped 42 saves on 44 shots and was just 29 seconds away from allowing just a single goal against the high-powered offense of the Boston Pride. The Riveters' top goaltender and highest paid player was nothing short of brilliant on Sunday, but let's turn our focus to what the Riveters skaters did in regards to putting pucks on the opposition's net.
The Riveters excelled at getting shots off of faceoffs early in the game and regularly challenged Lauren Slebodnick low. Many of the shots that came off of faceoff victories were bad angle shots that the Riveters were clearly hunting for rebounds on. If NWHL.co's stats can be trusted, the Riveters won the battle on the faceoff dot 13 to 9.
It was a rebound that came from Madison Packer's stick that tied the game up for the Riveters. Puck luck on a Hanrahan flubbed shot (a backchecker made contact with her stick and turned her shot into a change-up) gave New York their first-ever lead in the regular season.
When Celeste Brown and Casey Pickett took matching minors with about three minutes left in the period the New York Riveters turned it on. The Riveters looked outstanding on four on four hockey with the open ice and once they got the puck into Boston's zone they were relentless and moved it well. They created some solid chances.
In the final minute of the first Hilary Knight dropped to her knees in the crease behind Slebodnick and robbed Bray Ketchum of a certain goal. It was a fantastic play that prevented the Riveters from taking a 3-1 lead into the second period.
The Riveters had a rough stretch in middle of second period. Boston looked dangerous on a power play that was earned after a Celeste Brown cross-check at the 12:38 mark. Later in the period, with Zoe Hickel in the box, the Riveters created a few good scoring chances of their own and challenged Boston's penalty kill and Slebodnick. The shots from the point were low and dangerous, especially from the stick of Ashley Johnston, and the Riveters went for two one-timer plays that looked promising but didn't connect.
The Riveters started the third period with a big power play goal on a five on three opportunity. About three minutes of game film is missing from the archived footage on the Riveters' YouTube page, so I did the best I could to plot those shots using photography, the NWHL's highlight package of the game (which captured Bray Ketchum's snipe), and my notes and memory. It is because of this that I made sure to post a separate shot chart of just the first two periods in addition to a shot chart of the whole game. The shot chart of the first two periods will be far more accurate.
With 14:30 left in regulation the Riveters had 30 shots on net and eventually finished with 34, although the league's box score credits them with 45. Counting the shots credited to individual players in the box score and watching the game film makes 34 shots the more likely total, although it might have been a bit higher. This is, unfortunately, an imperfect science.
Through the last five minutes or so of the game the Riveters did not register a shot on net. Gabie Figueroa's holding penalty at 18:00 of the third period gave the Pride the power play they needed (with the goalie pulled) to beat Nana Fujimoto again for the first time since Hilary Knight's goal that was scored at the 3:51 mark. The Riveters went into a shell late in the game, doing everything they could to preserve their two goal lead.
Shot Chart: Periods One and Two Only
Shot Chart: Entire Game
Almost all of the Riveters' best point shots came from the stick of Johnston, who had 3 shots on net. Hanrahan, Fritz-Ward, and Ketchum all registered 5 shots on net in the game. Beth Hanrahan's determination and compete level around the opposition's net, especially in pursuit of loose pucks, was outstanding as per usual. Fardelmann was only credited with 2 shots in the game, but her neutral zone play was exceptional and her faceoff wins and the space she created with the battles she won in the offensive zone resulted in a lot of chances and shots on net for her linemates, including Hanrahan.
Packer, Ammerman, and Weber were each credited with 4 shots in the game. All three of the key forwards had chances in the game that either just missed the net or were foiled by strong defensive plays. Packer, for example, had a breakaway chance that she went for a top corner shot on because she felt the pressure of a Pride defender on her back.
The Riveters played a simple, gritty game against Boston. They put shots on net whenever they saw teammates around the crease for rebound opportunities and they looked good and creative on the rush. The puck luck that resulted in Hanrahan's goal shouldn't take away from how strong of a game the Riveters played and how close they were to putting 4 if not 5 goals up against Slebodnick and the Pride last Sunday.
I still can't get over this play by Hilary Knight that robbed the Riveters of a goal late in the first period.
Keeping it simple and going hard to the net should be the bread and butter of the Riveters' offense. The strength and compete level among the Riveters forward group make them an ideal team for hunting rebounds and jamming loose pucks past goaltenders in and around the crease.
On the power play, however, they should move the puck around, continue to go for one-timers, and use the big shots on the team from Stretch, Ammerman, and Weber with players like Packer and Hanrahan battling in front of the net. A lot of different things worked or nearly worked on November 15th for New York. Hopefully, we'll see a more confident team take to the ice on the road this Sunday doing some of those same things with the same (if not better) results.
Thanks for reading. Let's go Riveters.