Jenny Scrivens warming up.
When the puck dropped at 3:30 PM at Aviator Sports and Events Center on Sunday afternoon the Riveters took to the ice for their first game of the preseason. Their opponents were FDNY's hockey club, captained by John Sullivan from Engine Company 53. Prior to the game the Riveters had only been together as a team for about a week and a half and have had just four practices as a team, so they knew their work was cut out for them against a big, strong, veteran FDNY roster.
The first ten minutes of the first period were without a doubt the most challenging for the Riveters. FDNY picked up a goal in the opening minute and added another two before the midway point of the first period to take a 3-0 lead. New York's Bravest's goals came largely from tipped pucks and chaos around the net created during extended periods of pressure and big blasts from the point. Despite allowing three early goals Jenny Scrivens was able to turn aside some difficult shots to keep her team in the game despite a rocky start from the Riveters. The excitement and emotion of playing their first game as a team appeared to result in some disorganized hockey from New York.
The chemistry on the FDNY squad was apparent early on, especially when they had the puck in the offensive zone. The big bodies of the firemen not only caused havoc for Jenny Scrivens in front of the net, but the advantage they had in their strength, reach, and stick length posed a lot of problems for the Riveters who all had to find another gear to hustle and to compete for loose pucks. Although there was supposed to be no hitting allowed in the game there was plenty of physical contact from both teams, especially along the boards and in front of the net. There were a few pile-ups in the goal creases during the game and a lot more shoulders thrown around than one might have anticipated.
After the first ten minutes of the first period things started to turn around for the Riveters. They showed the hustle, work ethic, and tenacity that coach Chad Wiseman made it clear was what he wanted to see out of his team. Towards the end of the first period Brooke Ammerman drew a penalty and the resulting power play helped the Riveters take the edge in shots at the close of the first chapter of the game. The early butterflies were gone, adjustments were made during intermission, and a more confident hockey club took to the ice in the second period.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the second period, the Riveters began to answer the call for what continued to be a rough and tumble exhibition game. Cherie Stewart, Madison Packer, Ashley Johnston, Janine Weber, Elena Orlando, and Brooke Ammerman led the physical battle against their larger opponents. Several trips, stick grabs, and hooking calls were missed throughout the game. Twice Brooke Ammerman fell to the ice with the stick of an FDNY player tangled up in her skates, but she simply got up and kept on skating without earning a call from the referee. To their credit the Riveters didn't let the roughness of the game distract them, and by the time that Shenae Lundberg came into the net to take over at goaltender at the 10:18 mark of the second period they had a 14-10 edge in shots.
At the 9:00 mark of the second period Janine Weber finally broke through after some relentless work around the net and a nifty spin move in close to make it a 3-1 game, Beth Hanrahan picked up the assist. The impressive goaltending from FDNY finally came up short thanks to a hard-fought shift and a big goal from the first player to sign a NWHL contract. The Riveters' bench hammered on the boards and the crowd at Aviator stomped on the bleachers acknowledging the club's first goal.
After Weber's goal the Riveters really came alive. With around 6:00 left in the second period Shenae Lundberg came up big on a breakaway stop, and when the puck went the other way, Weber and the Riveters went back on the attack and peppered FDNY's net with a few more quality scoring chances. Ashley Johnston, a true standout in the game for her play in both ends of the ice, hammered a point shot that created a rebound that Erin Barley-Maloney just missed banging home. With 4:09 left in the period the Riveters had a 19-12 edge in shots.
A few shifts later FDNY got a handle back on the game and after some crisp puck movement Tom Reno made a perfect deflection off of a set up from Brian White to beat Shenae Lundberg with 2:45 left. There was nothing for Lundberg to do on the tic-tac-toe passing pay, but she very nearly slid across and stopped the puck that slipped through her five hole. Under a minute later FDNY were just a stride away from a breakaway opportunity, but the long reach and strong stick work of Ashley Johnston foiled the chance. Johnston then gained control of the puck, took it behind her own net, and made the outlet pass that eventually created a late chance for Madison Packer.
At the conclusion of the second period the score was 4-1 in favor of FDNY, but the Riveters had done well in the possession game and had a 20 to 17 edge in shots.
It didn't take long for Shenae Lundberg to come up with some big stops in the third, FDNY got two pucks on net in the first 0:50 of the period but turned them both aside. After Lundberg's saves the Riveters went back on the attack and created some quality scoring chances including a breakaway for Cherie Stewart that failed to beat FDNY's netminder. Throughout the game Gabie Figueora looked strong on the point with Amber Moore and found a way to get shots through traffic to FDNY's net. Her ability to move the puck and create open ice for her teammates from the blue line will make her a player worth keeping an eye on all season long.
After Stewart's breakaway opportunity FDNY got back on the attack and had the puck buried in the Riveters' zone for an extended period of time. A diving play by Celeste Brown bought her team the precious seconds they needed to get a line change. Brown, who is known for her work ethic and heart, put a lot of pucks on net during the game and does a lot of the little things that will make her a fan favorite in the Riveters' inaugural season.
At the 12:00 mark of the third period the Riveters led in shots 25-21 but the pressure kept coming from FDNY. Eventually Amber Moore took a holding penalty when she was beat wide and the Riveters went on their first and only penalty kill. Ashley Johnston and Shenae Lundberg put on a show for the shorthanded Riveters. Johnston, who is 6'0" and played her college hockey at Union with Lundberg, showed strength, poise, and focus getting the puck out of the zone and breaking up plays around the net. Eventually the Riveters' hard work on the penalty kill paid off and, after a few shorthanded chances that nearly clicked for big scoring chances, they drew a penalty and earned their own power play.
On the Riveters' second power play of the game Madison Packer had a prime scoring chance from the slot but was stopped with a kick save. The Riveters had some issues with back passes to the point but there were a lot of positive signs on the power play, especially considering the size, strength, and experience of their opponents.
With 7:02 left in the third period two big FDNY bodies were parked in front of the net. The Riveters defenders were doing everything they could to move them, but a shot from the point got through the screen and made it a 5-1 game in FDNY's favor. It was a rather blatant example of the size and weight advantage that FDNY had over the Riveters in the game, there was very little for Lundberg to do with a wall of firemen obscuring her vision.
It only took a little over a minute for Brooke Ammerman to answer the call and get a goal back for the women who will have Rosie the Riveter on their jerseys. Ammerman, who was buzzing all night long and making things happen all over the ice, somehow tucked a puck through the legs of the FDNY goalkeeper while falling with 6:16 to go. The Connecticut-born Yale graduate Bray Ketchum was credited with an assist on the play.
With 5:10 left in regulation the Riveters led in the shots department 30 to 25. Erin Barley-Maloney ripped a big shot just wide with under 5:00 left and when the puck went the other way Lundberg came up big on a 3 on 1 rush for FDNY.
With 3:37 remaining in the third a filthy roofed wrist shot in close beat Lundberg to give FDNY a 6-2 lead. When all was said and done in regulation the Riveters outshot the FDNY hockey club, but thanks to some exceptional goaltending and some big blasts from the point by the firemen New York City's Bravest were the victors.
However, that wasn't all the hockey that was to be played on the ice at Aviator. During the game, much to the glee of the fans, it was announced on the PA that there would be a 4 on 4 OT and a shootout.
In the overtime period some hard work in the corner and around the net by Brooke Ammerman earned the Riveters an early power play. It didn't take long for the Riveters to break through after an offensive zone faceoff by Ammerman, a great screen by Madison Packer, and a perfectly placed shot by New Jersey native Gabie Figueroa. Figeuroa's shot found its way through all kinds of traffic and she showed outstanding instincts to get to the slot, enabling her to rifle a puck past FDNY's netminder. After Figueroa's goal, the OT continued.
A perfectly placed shot from Figueroa.
The next big chance in overtime came on a 2-on-1 for the Riveters when Janine Weber and Beth Hanrahan charged up the ice. Weber looked off the defender but was stopped by the goaltender's pad. A little later in OT Celeste Brown put a great shot on net with 1:30 left on the clock and the rebound was just missed by Taylor Holze.
With 0:51 left John Sullivan wristed an overtime goal past Lundberg making the overtime period a 1-1 tie despite it being all Riveters. The open ice in overtime really gave the Riveters a chance to display their skill and speed.
In the shootout Shenae Lundberg stopped two FDNY players, including goal scorer Charles Selock, but allowed a goal from Joe Sanger. Lundberg flashed out her stick to make a textbook pokecheck save on one of her stops and hugged the left post for her other save in the shootout.
Two of the Riveters' biggest guns came up big in the shootout. Both Brooke Ammerman and Madison Parker scored gorgeous goals to help give the Riveters the win in the shootout competition. Erin Barley-Maloney also had a chance but was stopped by a quick kick save by FDNY's goaltender.
Brooke Ammerman's goal.
Madison Packer's nasty move.
Although the Riveters weren't happy with what the scoreboard looked like at Aviator Sports & Events Center at the end of their first preseason game, they were satisfied with how hard they played. It was a big learning experience for a team that has been together for just four practices.
The Riveters were without Nana Fujimoto, Lyudmila Belyakova, and recent signing Sydney Kidd for tonight's game. Practice players Cherie Stewart, Margot Scharfe, Taylor Holze, and Amber Moore skated with the team.
Standouts: Brooke Ammerman, Taylor Holze, Ashley Johnston, Gabie Figueora, Elena Orlando, and Janine Weber.
Although the Riveters' opponents were bigger, stronger, and benefited from having longer reaches and more time playing together, there were far more good signs than bad signs for New York's NWHL franchise despite the regulation loss. Outside of a few desperate stretches where FDNY had them trapped in their own zone, the Riveters did well in the possession game and got pucks to the net. The Riveters excelled at getting passes to the slot and into dangerous areas around FDNY's net and showed all kinds of skill and creativity when they had some open ice to work with. One can imagine that the sandpaper, hustle, and talent on the roster that was on display on Sunday night will make them a handful for the other teams in the NWHL. The Riveters play their next preseason game at Chelsea Piers in New York on October 4th against the Minnesota Whitecaps.
I'll have another post going up tomorrow featuring some more images from the game and some quotes and thoughts from coach Chad Wiseman, Celeste Brown, Beth Hanrahan, and Brooke Ammerman.
Thanks for reading. Let's go Riveters.