While it was certainly not how Chad Wiseman and the New York Riveters had planned to play, the team was able to steal their second straight win over the Boston Pride. Three games earlier, the Pride had spoiled the Riveters' home opener but New York returned the favor by beating Boston in front of their home fans at Bright-Landry Hockey Center by a 3-2 score.
Early goals by Brooke Ammerman and Madison Packer, the second of the season for both players, put the Riveters in command of the game out of the gate. By the end of the first period Meghan Fardelmann had tallied her first goal of the year in quick response to Hilary Knight's power play goal, restoring the two goal lead for New York. The Riveters went into the locker room with the scoreboard showing 3-1 in their favor after the team's biggest display of offense so far in the season.
However, when play resumed in the second period, the story of the game would become Nana Fujimoto. The Japanese Olympian had a stellar showing in the previous game against Boston, but her performance today was otherworldly. Due to discrepancies and issues with statistics by the NWHL, shot totals are not entirely accurate. According to shot-tracking during the game by Mike Murphy and myself, Fujimoto turned aside 36 of 38 shots while the official NWHL total reads as 41 saves on 43 shots by Boston.
The Pride were denied goals by both Fujimoto as well as the referees, with the officials disallowing two potential goals in the second period. The first was for incidental contact with the goaltender following a penalty by the Riveters forcing the Pride attacker into Fujimoto. The second was a controversial call which, upon video review, was deemed to be a puck directly kicked into the net by Jordan Smelker. While it is possible that it may have deflected off of Smelker's stick following her distinct kick of the puck, the angles shown on replays are not convincing that she made contact with her stick.
The Pride had a goal overturned, kicked in by the Pride. pic.twitter.com/84DTm6qxkL— NWHL Gifs (@nwhlgifs) November 22, 2015
Amanda Pelkey was able to bang home a rebound which squeaked through Fujimoto's legs and barely crossed over the goal line despite Janine Weber's efforts to sweep the puck out of the crease. The goal got the Pride within one, but the score would remain 3-2 after the full 60 minutes transpired.
The Riveters found themselves in penalty trouble again throughout the game, surrendering two power play goals to the Pride and allowing them to dictate the pace of the game. Boston's elite scorers had several chances to put their team in the lead, but their efforts either found the end boards, the iron, or Fujimoto. Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight in particular had several scoring opportunities, but failed to capitalize.
Although the Riveters had persistent issues getting the puck out of their own zone and transitioning into offensive possession, the team skated away with their second win in as many games after starting the season 0-3-0. New York was, by Blueshirt Banter's statistics, outshot 38 to 21. The NWHL has the totals as 43 to 14 in favor of the Pride, but either way it is evident that Nana Fujimoto did exactly what she was brought to New York to do: Win.
New York will return to action on their home ice in Brooklyn next weekend when they will play the Buffalo Beauts for the first time this season. The Beauts have had a rough start, including a heartbreaking 7-6 shootout loss against the Connecticut Whale in a game where Buffalo had stormed back to tie the game after trailing 6-1 in the second period. The Beauts have steadily improved in each of their games and will be hungry to get their first win of the season against a Riveters team that suddenly finds themselves with back-to-back wins after being in Buffalo's position two weeks ago.
Stay tuned for further analysis, including our shot charts and takeaways from today's game.