By David F. Pendrys (Full results from NWHL)
BEVERLY, MA- The Boston Pride ended the New York Riveters season Saturday night with a 7-4 victory. The clear starter Brittany Ott, was sent into net for the Pride, and after having the night off on Friday, Nana Fujimoto was in net for the Riveters.
Sixteen penalties would be called in a progressively rougher game, and five of the game’s goals would come on conventional power plays, and a sixth on a short handed attempt making special teams a critical part of the game.
“When you care that much it gets really feisty. People are sticking up for their goalies for their teammates, so there’s a lot happening in there. We tried not to think about it too much, tried not to let it frustrate us too much,” Boston’s Jillian Dempsey said.
After some back and forth in period one at 7:38 Boston’s Gigi Marvin teed it up from the point past Fujimoto, assisted by Amanda Pelkey. At 11:51 Hilary Knight scored the first power play of the game from close range after a slapper by Marvin.
At 14:56 during a 5 on 3 New York power play, Madison Packer responded for the Rivs after Brooke Ammerman fed her by the net and she ricocheted it past Ott.
With less than a minute in the period, Dempsey broke out from traffic during a mess in front and got fed a nice pass which she slipped under Fujimoto’s pads. Kacey Bellamy and Zoe Hickel had assists on the play as well.
When the period ended the Pride had a 3-1 lead. Of critical note during the first Fujimoto had been collided with and shaken up, but she returned to the game.
51 seconds into period two, Boston’s Blake Bolden swept in along the boards to Fujimoto’s right and with a shot from an odd angle beat the keeper. Hickel had her second assist of the night. With that Jenny Scrivens came in to replace Fujimoto. The Pride had a strong 4-1 lead but the next four goals would come due to penalties. At 5:58 on the power play Knight was in a perfect position sliding in on the left of Scrivens and getting a redirected pass which she sent into the upper right corner of the net. Assists went to Brianna Decker and Bellamy.
More penalties followed, at 11:23 New York’s Kira Dosdall skated to the center and launched a competent shot past Ott during a five on three. She managed to do this mere seconds before a penalty ended allowing the power play to continue, but seconds later Decker scored on a fast break with Knight short handed. Still on the power play, the Rivs crashed the net and Liudmila Belyakova scored at 11:47.
“It was an emotional. For them to score, and then for us to bounce right back, really could of sucked some life out of them we thought, but again to their credit they came right back and got another one too,” Pride Coach Bobby Jay said. “Both teams were working very hard and fighting for everything. So those goals, weren’t just necessarily for the teams that gave them up a mental lapse, they were effort on the team that scored them too.”
With the Pride leading 6-3 late and about 6 minutes left in the third, another penalty was called on the Pride. Scrivens was pulled for a 6 on 4. Soon after at 14:41 Celeste Brown scored from Ott’s far right to cut the deficit to 6-4. Scrivens returned to the net for a time, but headed for the bench again much later in the frame. Knight delivered the dagger though at 18:44 eventually getting into position to send the puck into the empty net for the hat trick.
The win sends Boston on to the NWHL Isobel Cup Finals in Newark Friday, Saturday, and possibly Sunday. The loss naturally ends the inaugural Riveter’s season.
“It’s a tough one. I think tough is an understatement. Thank you to all our fans. This was a historical season. To be a part of it, to be part of such a great team, to make history. Most importantly to really define what this jersey means this season, was a huge thing, and to keep fighting until the end. That’s what Riveters hockey is.” Riveters Captain Ashley Johnston said.
Ultimately the Pride put up 52 shots on goal. Fujimoto saved 14 of 18 she faced, and Scrivens made a save on 31 of 33. Ott saved 23 of the 27 shots on her, and let no even strength goals in.
“Jen Scrivens has been outstanding so far throughout the year,” Knight said of the opposing keeper.
For all the offense, Jay had plenty to say about the defense when asked. “All our D played extremely well, we did give up four tonight, and two were five on three’s I believe. So that’s hard to really fault the D. As a unit, our D’s been fantastic,” Jay said. He made it a point to mention that “Blake Bolden has really brought her game to another level for us in the second half of the season. She’s been fantastic.”
Jay also had complimented Bellamy. “I coached her on the Olympic team, I think she’s playing at the highest level. She was fantastic then, but she’s playing at a world level right now that I haven’t seen.”
This sentiment was echoed by Hilary Knight. “I think Kacey Bellamy did a great job…she’s stepping up into play, making stuff happen, and making our jobs as forward easier.”
Dempsey also added praise independently. “She’s back on defense and I never think she gets the credit that she deserves, but she is incredible for us. She makes the simple plays and shes’ a leader. She shows up every time. I think tonight…nothing flasher whatever, she’s steady for us and she does what we need her to do, and she leads. So it’s always great to have her back there on the blue line.”
Regarding the special teams which figured so much into the game Dempsey had a lot to say. “Usually our kill gives us a lot of momentum and gives us some good energy. Despite the goals that they got I think we stuck to what we normally do. Five on threes…you should be getting a goal on those. Credit to them for sticking with it and not giving up, when the score kinda got a little bit away from them.”
“Power play, we were having some really good looks, and moving the puck real well. We also had a lot of shots tonight. It’s going to be nice to see some more of those go in. I think we’re happy to get seven. We weren’t happy to give up four,” Dempsey said.
Johnston for her part responded to a query about her team’s power play success. “I was nice to see it come together at the end,” the Captain agreed despite the loss. “Because it was definitely something we struggled with all season.”
When Johnston asked if there was anything the team focused on that night, she said no, but that the team just continued to aim for the goals to “work hard, never give up, win every single battle. That was it. We just executed a little bit better tonight,” Johnston added.