The New York Riveters' 4-1 loss to the Boston Pride last Sunday was a setback for a team that seemed to be overcoming its early season woes. A few novel storylines followed the Riveters on their road trip up to the Bright-Landry Center in Boston. Among them were the debut of Jenny Scrivens due to the absence of star goaltender Nana Fujimoto, the subsequent and unprecedented call-up of Boston College goalie Corrine Boyles, and facing a Boston Pride team that had just played a game 24 hours prior to the puck drop on Sunday.
In an ideal world for New York, the Riveters would have capitalized on a possibly tired Pride team by coming out of the gates with relentless pressure and scoring chances. However, New York took 40 minutes to find their offense, and even by that time they were simply not generating enough dangerous chances. The lack of offensive pressure stemmed from the inability to get out of their defensive zone with controlled possession. The Riveters failed to register a shot on net for extended periods of play and Ott was sharp when she was rarely tested.
Scrivens was remarkable in her first start in six years, showing no signs of rust and exuding confidence under duress. In fact, she was the star of the game, turning aside 35 of 37 shots from the dangerous sticks of the Boston Pride. Scrivens and her counterpart Brittany Ott put forth the most impressive display of goaltending in the NWHL so far, keeping the game scoreless well into the third period. However, Scrivens' shutout bid was unsustainable with the quality and quantity of scoring chances she was exposed to.
New York Riveters
The Riveters only managed five shots on net in the opening period, and only two genuine scoring chances. New York was kept out of the offensive zone for the majority of the first twenty minutes, and when they did foray into the realm of Brittany Ott they rarely found a way to get the puck towards her. A lack of sustained time and control of the puck resulted in the odd shot off of the rush before peeling back for a line change. The two chances directly in front of Ott were A+ chances, particularly Brooke Ammerman's, but she was unable to finish the centering feed. Overall, the Pride's best defense was their relentless offense which kept the puck 200 feet away from their netminder.
The story stayed the same into the second period. When New York was able to get the puck, they defaulted to gaining the red line, dumping the puck in, and skating to the bench to begin the process anew. Power play chances failed to generate scoring chances, and shockingly the team continued to surrender them even with the extra skater. The Riveters were kept to the outside of the ice and could not find a way to break through. The endless cycle of forfeiting possession and being mired in their own zone resulted in another period of five shots, bringing their total to ten, with only three quality chances, through 40 minutes of play.
The Riveters would surpass their combined 40 minute total in the final 20 minutes, but it was not enough to come away with a victory. New York started to take advantage of some offensive zone time, possibly the result of tired Boston legs, and found clear passing and shooting lanes. The Riveters established a cycle and generated shots from in and around the circles. They even got the puck into the slot, including what seemed to be a surefire goal for Morgan Fritz-Ward that was denied by a composed Ott. The only goal for New York came off of a brilliant slot deflection by Meghan Fardelmann from a bomb by Ashley Johnston at the point. The puck was likely headed wide- to the left of Brittany Ott, but Fardelmann tipped it back between the glove and the post to get the Riveters back into the game 2-1. New York has several strong shooters at their blueline, but they barely managed shots from the point. The Riveters could not find more in the waning minutes.
The Riveters came alive in the final period of the game, but could not build off of a stagnant start. They ended the game with 21 shots, 11 of which came in the third period, and 7 high-quality chances. The team needed to generate some offensive pressure to help out their new goalie, but they fell flat in all three zones with and without the puck. If the Riveters were able to play the way that they did in the third period for the entirety of the game, we could very well be looking at a very different result. The Riveters know that, and will be sure to come out next week against the Buffalo Beauts looking to continue that play.
The Boston Pride sure did not look tired when they took to the ice against the New York Riveters. The team was quick to test Jenny Scrivens from all over the ice, but were unable to find the twine despite some close calls with iron. In the first period alone the Boston Pride generated more shots than the New York Riveters did in more than two periods of play, including six high-quality chances in the opening period which is just one shy of the game total of the Riveters. Scrivens was phenomenal, but the Riveters were going to need change the pace if they were to stay in it.
Boston picked up right where they left off, applying lots of pressure and dictating play in the offensive zone during the second period. The Pride continued to find room and chances in the slot, but Scrivens miraculously turned the puck aside again and again with some more help from the post as well. Another trend in the Pride's game which was lacking for the Riveters was shots generated from the point. Traffic in front of Scrivens led to rebounds and scrambles in front, leaving a sprawling Scrivens on the ice somehow keeping the puck out of the net.
A dam will break against a relentless tide, and the same was true for Jenny Scrivens and the New York Riveters. Boston finally found the back of the net thanks to a rebound kicked out to Jillian Dempsey who buried the puck past a down-and-out Scrivens. The Pride set up shop in the slot and it paid dividends, although delayed by the highlight plays by the New York goaltender. Scrivens was called to the bench for an extra attacker, but Ammerman's errant pass ended up on the stick of Hilary Knight who scored from the red line on the empty cage. The Riveters got on the board on the next shift, but Boston responded in kind due to a brilliant backhand goal by Amanda Pelkey after she cut to the slot in front of Scrivens and lifted the puck across her body and against the grain over the netminder's glove. Hilary Knight would seal the deal with her second empty net goal of the game and the Pride would skate away with their second win in as many days.
The difference between the shot charts of the New York Riveters and the Boston pride is night and day. The Pride generated 37 total shots and 19 grade-A chances compared to 21 total for the Riveters which include 7 grade-A chances. New York left their goalie out to dry for much of the game, forcing Scrivens to pull off some miracles in her first start in six years. Boston continuously found themselves in the slot with the puck on their stick and the goals were inevitable. The 4-1 score is not indicative of how close the game was for the majority of the game, but it accurately shows the disparity in puck possession, shots, and control of play in favor of the Boston Pride.