BROOKLYN, NY-After some transportation confusion and traffic, the Boston Pride arrived late to Aviator Sports & Events Center in Brooklyn to take on the New York Riveters Sunday night. The crowd grew and hung out during the delay, but once festivities started they were loud and into it immensely. The introductions brought many cheers for the home team, the most rousing ovation going to starting goalie Nana Fujimoto.
Video playlist of some game action:
When play started the Boston Pride struck quickly as Zoe Hickel broke in speedily and slid past Fujimoto shooting it as she did to score with an assist from Hilary Knight. Late in the period Brianna Decker swept in swiftly and beat the keeper assisted by Blake Bolden. The first ended with the Pride up 2-0.
The period did include a believed Riveters goal but it was waved “no goal” due to interference. Fujimoto did make some critical saves despite the two goals that went in. Boston’s Lauren Slebodnick denied the Riveters multiple times as well. New York gave up some penalties including one to Morgan Fritz-Ward getting called at the end of the period.
In the second, New York killed of the penalty, and also picked up a power play themselves later with Boston Marissa Gedman in the box. However the Pride’s answer was for Buie to race into the Riveter zone and feed Decker on a two on one. She knocked it by Fujimoto for Boston goal number three.
Soon afterward Shenae Lundberg came in to man the goal for the Riveters, and Brittany Ott replaced Slebodnick. This could be the last in game in which Ott’s baby blue pads made an appearance. She was challenged very quickly but responded with a glove save. A Riveters penalty would put them on the penalty kill again, but they dispatched it. As a highlight, Celeste Brown had a great diving clear to get the puck out. Though just as Kiira Dosdall was set to be released from the box, Amber Moore was sent to it. Fortunately for them, the Riveters took care of that penalty as well though.
Later in the period Gabie Figueroa came up with a goal for New York when she retrieved the puck from behind the net and popped it in the other side away from Ott. It was quite the site.
The period ended with the Pride up 3-1 and with some momentum back with the Riveters. Period 3 would put the game out of reach though. Hickel scored nearly instantly to open the final frame. She picked up the rebound of Amanda Pelkey’s shot and bammed it past Lundberg to the goalie’s right for a 4-1 lead.
A penalty to Dosdall put the Riveters in hot water again, but they killed it. Janine Weber and Figueroa were among those keeping the Pride from striking and Ashley Johnston and Fritz-Ward worked together to close in on Jordan Smelker as she tried to start an attack run. Lundberg also had a huge save sliding across the mouth of the goal to deny the Pride.
Back at even strength Connie Buie scored soon afterward at 5:19 assisted by Hickel, and seconds later Blake Bolden did as well assisted by Pelkey and Knight to put the contest at 6-1. A later power play goal from Smelker assisted by Decker at 10:49 would add insult to injury. This came after the Riveters were called for delay of game.
With the game out of reach the crowd still remained into it, literally going nuts as the Riveters tried a breakaway in the last seconds.
With the loss, the Riveters fall to 0-2, and the Pride with the win rise to 2-0. The Pride travel again to Buffalo next week for a rematch of their season opener, and the Riveters host the Connecticut Whale.
Post game reaction:
Riveters Coach Chad Wiseman
Full video (mostly) of the presser is here, but some of the highlights.
In responding to a question from Podelski, Wiseman thought the biggest issue with the team was “compete level” getting to loose pucks, getting stronger, having better sticks as he called it, getting his systems back in place.
When Cimini asked if the team was playing stronger and at a higher skilled level than in the Whale game, Wiseman disagreed. “We have the skill level, but we’re a systematic team, and we need to play our positions and know our roles, and as soon as we get outside those roles we struggled, and its showed tonight.” Wiseman also noted that the fact the Pride could be skating at that level after the long bus trip shocked him a little. Also, Wiseman ventured after a question from Cimini that the transitions improved in the second.
Questioned by Murphy, Wiseman took no issue with the hits in the game. He thought the refs did a good job with the physicality though noted some unmentioned other issues. On a question by Cimini as to who his “star of the game” would be. Wiseman complimented Lundberg on her performance. Asked a follow up by Podelski about the differences between Fujimoto and Lundberg’s performances, Wiseman posited that perhaps the delay in starting the game and a broken stick pre-game might have affected Fujimoto’s performance in net. He mused that perhaps after the quick Hickel goal he perhaps should have put in Lundberg.
Murphy asked about Taylor Holze. Wiseman complimented her ability on both the penalty kill and the power play. Cimini asked about the Riveters numerous blocked shots, and Wiseman noted it was the highlight of the game and noted the penalty kill effectiveness of the team.
Later Johnston of the Riveters talked to Cimini, Murphy, and Beth Boyle Machlan of The Other Half.
Full audio of the presser is here.
Cimini asked about the game in general and about Johnston’s physicality and blocked shots: “At the end of the day individual effort really doesn’t matter, as a team we didn’t pull together, I don’t have much to say about that…I did not do the neutral zone well. Going back to practice Wednesday, practice Friday, back to the grind. We can’t lose 7-1, nobody likes that and it’s not acceptable.”
Cimini asked what the defense would be working on and later Murphy asked what the defenders will be eying to do for next week: “There’s definitely a lot of things. One of the things…we need to get in better shape. There are times I got beat flat out. We have to get faster. My butt needs to be in the gym, I need to be on the ice, I need to be getting faster…I think as a crew, getting to know each other plays.”
Murphy queried if the delayed start affected the Riveters. Johnston noted it was tough to strike the balance between being over-excited and under prepared. Murphy asked it meant to her that the fans were still behind them even with the score: “We have the best fans in the league…they proved that today…they’re awesome.”
Cimini asked her favorite goal of the night knowing full well what the answer would be leading Johnston to compliment Figueroa. “Gabby’s. That says a lot about her…That girl is just all heart. So scoring a goal like that putting the team on her back trying to switch the momentum over. She just gained the respect of the entire team.”
Murphy questioned if leaders are stepping up. “I think everybody a leader and at different points people shine through. I’d much rather be on a team with 20 to 22 leaders than one individual leader…we all know what we have to do…there is nobody here who isn’t working hard…we’re just kind of Captains of ourselves.”
On the Pride side of the ice, Cimini, Murphy, Machlan, and a few others (I’m afraid I did not get the names) asked questions of the players.
(Full presser audio.)
Some highlights below:
Cimini asked about her first goal to which she responded: “To do it with this team at this time of the year, so early in the season, is a lot of fun…Best teammates in the world.”
Machlan asked about the pace of the game being faster compared to last week: “Absolutely…last week we had so much adrenaline and energy…we’ll just see that throughout the year, the level of the game is going to keep getting better, we’re going to keep getting better as a team, and so is everyone else.”
Murphy wondered after they got in late in his words “How on earth” were they ready to go. Hickel said they concluded, “all right, let’s just ya know use the energy that we have here, let’s just do some dynamic warm up stretches on the bus, and carry it right on to the ice…we just took it and ran with it.”
Cimini asked her her thoughts about her role on the line and she responded: “We’re trying to figure it out still. Just work hard for each other. Knighter’s got a rip of a shot, and Pelkey is fast. We just try to make sure we’re always interchangeable, and it seems like the more we play together, our chemistry is just getting better and better…it’s a lot of fun with the speed on our line.”
Full presser audio.
Cimini asked Knight about how she had a lot of good breakaways but they didn’t end up in a goal.
“If you’re going down and you’re approaching the goal, the opposing team is going to try whatever they can that’s within their power, to make sure you don’t get there. Hat’s off to them for being able to do that.” Cimini added that she seemed open a lot of the time and wonder if it was a tactic to let her move around. Knight took it as an opportunity to note she could do better: “I don’t know, I think I could have done a little better job moving my feet and getting open for the full duration of the time that my teammate’s had the puck. One of the main responsibilities of not having the puck is making your open at all time for your teammates. Sometimes you’re just shut down and that’s the way it works. But I hope I can bring it up in different ways and become more of a different play maker in that way.”
Murphy brought up the physicality and some on-ice discussions. Knight explained. “I said we don’t need any of this and the fighting has got to stop. It’s disrespectful to our game. Sometimes the audience gets into it and that’s great, but it’s not part of our game. We have no place for that here…Especially, we don’t have a fighting code. A lot of girls in women’s hockey that don’t understand the code of fighting. There’s a deep code in the NHL, but we’re just so infant in our sport, we need to develop it and find our roots.”
Asked about her favorite goal by Cimini, Knight answered it was, “when Decker went up and backhanded it top shelf. Any of her goals are highlight reel goals.”
Murphy asked if it hard getting in late, keeping focus, with all the stuff after whistles, and the score differential. He wondered if at some point the team was just making sure people don’t get hurt and nothing stupid happened: “Absolutely, we were kinda at a disadvantage that we didn’t get an off ice warmup, but things happen…but at the same time you you need to be aware and dictate the play as best as you can. I think we did that pretty well considering our lead.” Cimini followed up along those lines and Knight added that, “at the end of the day everyone is here because they love hockey. They’re going to get the job done no matter what it takes.”
Full presser audio.
Cimini asked about the game and rebound control and Ott gave a long answer: “Well Slebodnick started the game off for us, and I think she did an awesome job…they had a lot of chances, they were just throwing it across the crease, trying to jam it in back door. She was on point, she was there every time. She did really awesome for us. It was nice to have that to build off of, for me getting in there halfway in the second. It’s kinda tough being thrown like in there…you have to make that quick adjustment. I’ve been in that situation before…We had that one scramble that they got the goal off of. I just got pinned on the side of the net. I had it partly covered, but the ref was right there and he could see the whole thing. It just squirted out and she [Figueroa] just tucked it on the other side.”
She added after that, “we kept our heads on us…there were a lot of opportunities for them to get under our skin, and us be thrown off our game, but I think we did really really well with finding our game and finding our speed and playing thought he external factors.”
Murphy noting again the team’s late arrival also pointed out that while Ott didn’t face too much action but when she did she had to come up with some big stops. He wondered how she kept her focus especially as the score differential rose: “You just know that there’s always going to be that chance that they’re going to come in on an odd man rush, or a bad bounce. So you always have to be ready for everything. Anything and everything…it’s tough. Sometimes you aren’t ready for those bounces. Lucky today we had a really good effort going in all together, and it was awesome.”
Cimini wondered when the new pads are arriving and what color they are.”They’re in Boston…they’re waiting for us. I think all three of us, our gear is in. Hopefully the new mask is in next week…I have a stripe and two lions it…Facing forward…[the pads are] not baby blue…I know it’s like a part of me, they’ve grown on me. Everyone’s like ‘look for the blue goalie, that’s Brittany Ott right there’ …this is four [years] with these, but they’re broken down….So a Hilary Knight slap shot to the palm feels really good at the end of the day…”