The inaugural regular season has concluded for the NWHL and the New York Riveters. In the rink where their historical season began, the Riveters faced the Connecticut Whale one more time, and although it was a hard-fought game, they lost by a score of 4-2.
Chelsea Laden got the start in net for the Riveters; her first start against her former team, while Shenae Lundberg started in net for the Whale. The first period, as has been the story for the Riveters all season, was the strongest. They came out ready to play against an upset Whale team that had just relinquished the number one spot in the standings and was riding a two-game losing streak. For the first five or six minutes, the teams traded chances at both ends, but the Riveters were doing an excellent job with the puck. Their zone exits and entries were clean, passes were crisp, and they were getting good looks at the net. However, following a successful penalty kill, the Whale capitalized on the momentum and scored the game's first goal.
Following the goal, chances were once again traded, until a string of penalties towards the end of the period gave the Riveters a 4-on-3 advantage. Bray Ketchum carried the puck off the half boards, through the slot, and ripped a shot past Lundberg to tie the game at 1 with 7.2 seconds left in the period.
The first would end in a 1-1 tie.
The second period was the busiest, goal-wise. The first five minutes were once again filled with the teams trading chances, but both Laden and Lundberg were stymieing their former teams. Shiann Darkangelo was able to eventually beat Laden after finding her own rebound, and with 14:17 to go in the second, the Whale had the lead back again.
Bray Ketchum had one of her best games of the season. After Darkangelo's goal, she and Brooke Ammerman almost combined for the tying goal again, with Ammerman making a pretty backhand pass to Ketchum in front, but Lundberg was able to get a piece and knock it away. Soon after, on the power play, Kelly Babstock was able to find a loose puck in a scrum around the Riveters net, and the Whale had a 3-1 lead.
As if sensing the period was coming to an end, the Riveters were able to get one back on the power play. Kiira Dosdall scored her first goal of the season, a heavy shot from the point, and the second period concluded with the Whale leading 3-2.
Missed opportunities was the story for the Riveters in the third period. They went 0-for-4 on the power play in the final period, one of which being a short 5-on-3. Compounded on that, their defensive play was nonexistent for much of the period. Laden had to bail them out with saves on point blank shots from the slot multiple times, as Connecticut players were given free roam of the home plate area. Just after Gabie Figueroa hit a post with a minute to go, the Whale gathered up the puck and were able to find the empty net to wrap up the win.
Aside from much of the third period, this was a good game from the Riveters. They looked much better with and without the puck than they have in games past, and their playmaking has improved. They will face their biggest challenge yet next weekend, when they travel to Massachusetts to face the Boston Pride in the first round of the Isobel Cup Playoffs. It's a best-of-3 format, with games being played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I'll post the schedule and location below. Thanks for reading and let's go Rivs.
2016 Isobel Cup Playoffs - Semifinals - Boston Pride vs New York Riveters
Location: Raymond Bourque Arena, 300 Hale Street, Beverly, MA
Game 1: Friday, March 4 - 7:00 pm ET
Game 2: Saturday, March 5 - TBD
Game 3 (If necessary): Sunday, March 6 - 7:00 ET