It is a shame that not every good story can have a storybook ending, but that is the harsh reality of professional sports. This was the case for Chelsea Laden in her debut start for the New York Riveters following her trade from the Connecticut Whale in exchange for Shenae Lundberg. Laden, who appeared to have some jitters in the opening period, surrendered six goals through 60 minutes from a Boston Pride team that has been rolling.
While Laden's performance in net was far from ideal, the lack of goal support she received from her new teammates continues to ring some alarm bells. New York has now scored 34 goals in 15 regular season games, good for last in the league and 10 fewer than third place Buffalo who has a game in hand. While the goaltending has had its ups and downs this season for New York, the continuing struggle to sustain offensive pressure and get pucks to the net remains a primary point of concern.
The Pride have had no such issue in their inaugural season and they were quick to prove it is still the case. Kelly Cooke scored the first of three Boston goals in the first period. Cooke's second of the season came from jamming home a loose puck following a point shot from Alyssa Gagliardi, who had a solid game and doubled her offensive production all season with two assists in last night's game.
New York responded quickly and tied the game on the power play thanks to Liudmila Belyakova's wicked shot from the circle over the glove of Brittany Ott. Belyakova has come alive since the Riveters returned from their exhibition in Japan and now has five goals on the season. Unfortunately for New York, their offensive production would start and end with that power play snipe.
Boston added two goals before the opening frame came to an end, including one of their own on the power play from Jillian Dempsey after a centered puck found her stick right at the crease which she shoveled home past Laden's outstretched pad. Dempsey assisted on Gigi Marvin's goal from the point which found a way through traffic and put the Pride up 3-1 after 20 minutes.
The second period will go down in the books as a squandered opportunity for New York. Boston went to the box seven times, five of which resulted in power plays for New York including a a brief 5-on-3 advantage. The story stayed the same as it has been for New York's struggling power play all season. The teams would head into the third period with the score showing 4-1 in Boston's favor, with Zoe Hickel's breakaway goal being the only puck to find the back of the net in the second period despite plenty of chances for both teams.
Jillian Dempsey praised the Pride penalty kill as a key factor in the game, "It actually gave us momentum because each kill fired us up more. I think it ended up being a power kill, we had some really good offensive opportunities and we made sure that they didn't get anything."
The final period saw the Pride's top line get into the action with goals from Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight to seal the 6-1 win. Positives to take away from the game for New York were the solid performances of Kiira Dosdall at the point on the power play and Sydney Kidd had a great third period. Celeste Brown continued to be a thorn in Hilary Knight's side for the majority of the game, a difficult task which Brown has excelled in throughout the season.
The Riveters now only have three games left in their season before the playoffs begin. The team will be looking to enter the final chase for the Isobel Cup on a positive note, and a win next Sunday against the Buffalo Beauts at home would be a big step in the right direction for the team's mentality. Stay tuned for more coverage and analysis in the upcoming week.