By David F. Pendrys
NEWARK, NJ- The rebuilt and reloaded New York Riveters defeated Team Russia Sunday evening 2-1 to the delight of the Rivs faithful. Oddly enough, the Riveters appeared to contain the Russian team far more than the Pride had the day before despite each team allowing only 1 goal and the Pride naturally scoring a lot more.
Two newcomers fresh out of college produced the New York goals as Harvard alum Miye D’Oench notched the first goal assisted by former BU Terrier Rebecca Russo at 17:17.
The second Riveters goal came at the hands of Amanda Kessel on the power play 14 seconds into the third period. She got out in front and blasted it by the keeper for the eventual game winner. She was assisted by Kaleigh Fratkin and Bray Ketchum.
Russia cut the lead in half at 11:35 in the third when Yekaterina Smolentseva broke in on net and got it past the netminder. Olga Sosina and Iya Gavrilova picked up assists on the explosive play.
Maria Sorokina played well for Team Russia robbing the Riveters multiple times during the game. According to NWHL stats she faced 28 shots and saved 26 of them. New York was incredibly persistent with a new attack the visiting keeper kept the game from getting out of control.
New Riveters goalie Sojung Shin saved 19 of 20 shots in her first appearance.
The new found successes were welcomed but also kept in context by Riveters GM and Head Coach Chad Wiseman: “They still have come together as a unit. That was our first game. They responded well translating what we’ve done in practice to the game. I thought the first period was a little shaky, maybe a bit overanxious and nervous, probably excited to play. Once we settled down in the second I thought we controlled the majority of the play in the second and third period.”
The Riveters also showcased a penalty kill that was effective not only at keeping Russia out of the New York zone but also in producing scoring chances while a skater down.
“We have that speed right now. We can put the down ice pressure,” Wiseman said. “We’ve been going over short shifts on the PK where we need to get three or four units to go on the PK every PK. To keep that intensity up. To keep that down ice pressure, or that back ice pressure at any time.”
Wiseman also noted with his defense that it was good to have Gabie Figueroa and Rebecca Morse giving him eight solid players to work with.
Ashley Johnston returned to the ice again as the Captain. She noted despite the changes in personnel that with this game and beyond that “we’re building a Riveters hockey type style. Every single team year to year is going to be using the same style of hockey. That’s what coach has as his vision. It’s our job to bring it out. It’s a hard grind. I think in the first practice he said it best. A team that is going do the right thing every single time, we’re going to work hard, and be accountable. Every single time on ice nobody’s going to want to play us,” Ashley Johnston said. She explained it is “defense first hockey. That’s the style of hockey that we play so not too many shots. Most of the shots are bad angles,” Johnston said.
Madison Packer did go into some of the changes with such a major roster replacement noting it was a “different team dynamic. A lot of respect for the girls were here last year. We went through a lot together. It’s tough to come to the rink and get your ass kicked every night and that’s kind of what we did last. A lot of respect for that group, but we kind knew we needed to clean house and a different dynamic…” Madison Packer said. “Speed is definitely going to be our advantage this year. We want to use it. Amanda Kessel, it’s like the kid has rockets on the back of her skates. She’s fast. D’Oench is fast. We’ve got a last fast skaters,” Packer added.
When asked if the presence of NWHL veterans from other teams helped integrating the new team together Packer agreed saying “they know what the league is about. They’ve been here. They know the schedule the grind, so they’re definitely going to help us as we get down the stretch.”
Johnston, when asked how the team adjust to a brand new goalie corps, noted that involved “kind of knowing what So (Shin) wants us to do ideally. But at the same time, it’s hockey so we all know how to read and react. College sometimes you’d have a goalie every year that was different. But it’s a team so we all kind of connect we all come together and that’s part of what this right now is figuring it out. So far it’s been really easy, her, Fitz (Katie Fitzgerald), and Sarah (Bryant) are all really good. They’re funny and they’re a good group.”
Tatiana Rafter was one of the most noticeable players on the ice which was saying something considering all the happenings. She was confounding the Russian defense numerous times for opportunities. As a last minute signee of the team she almost wasn’t a Riveter as she planned a trip to Europe to play in a league there.
She was asked about getting used to the team and her own efforts:
“I’m super excited to be here,” Rafter said. “For me this is my fourth skate with my team…still getting to know names and face. This will be a good couple of preseason games for us to figure everything out.”
“Over the summer I’ve really worked on my foot speed a lot. I’m almost trying to learn how to use it when I’m playing. Just getting comfortable driving to the hard areas and the net,” she explained. “I think the main thing about these games is really trying to execute the systems that our coach has put forward cuz we’ll be successful if we buy in,” she added later.
Rafter also took a moment to talk about the culture she had entered:
‘These are the best couple practices I’ve ever had as a player. It’s just really run like a professional practice. One thing to next. Little teaching moments and then moving on. Chad really does a real good job of treating us like professionals. It’s maintaining that focus and just being able to commit to a full practice. That really translates into the game when you know there is these expectations and everything Is laid out for you. Then we have a plan that we can trust. Then it’s up to us when it comes to a game.”
The Riveters faced Russia the following day as well.
Postgame Presser Videos:
Noticed Plays. (An attempt to note what might not appear on the score sheet. This is by no means exhaustive. Format is a work in progress.)
New York Riveters
- Amanda Kessel had at least one defensively and also swung outside of Russia’s zone to steal it and bring it back.
- Bray Ketchum stole the biscuit at center ice and skated into the Russia zone, Tatiana Rafter snatched it in the Riveters zone and also to start an offensive drive in Russia’s end. Morgan Fritz-Ward also acquired it in the opposing zone. Rebecca Morse stole it in the Russian end, as did Rebecca Russo who produced a shot from her efforts.
- Courtney Burke stole and brought the puck up ice, Kiira Dosdall grabbed it in her zone and moved it out and Gabie Figueroa had a steal in the Riveters end.
- Milica McMillen disrupted a shot.
- Kiira Dosdall got to a loose puck in the New York end and moved it along.
- Ashley Johnston disrupted at least 3 zone entries and Morgan Fritz-Ward at least one.
- Amanda Kessel had at least 2, Michelle Picard, Kiira Dosdall had at least one.
- One of Morgan Fritz-Ward’s blocks led to a break, and later another she brought out as well. She also repeated the maneuver and fed it up to Janine Weber for a rush.
- Kaleigh Fratkin dived to block a pass.
Intercepted Passes: Rebecca Morse intercepted a Russian pass in the defensive zone, Janine Weber got in the way at mid ice of another visitor effort and Alexa Gruschow knocked a puck down to acquire it.
- Michelle Picard keep the puck in the Russia zone at least three times during the evening prolonging the attack.
- Rebecca Russo skated in swiftly to prevent icing.
- Amanda Kessel, Tatiana Rafter, Taylor Holze all had breaks.
- Kaleigh Fratkin got in close and launched a solid shot on the power play. Julia Herr got the puck near the keeper and sent it in then Miye D’Oench for a shot. Bray Ketchum produced a good opportunity in front as well. Kiira Dosdall had two shots as one was immediately blocked but she shot it again on net.
- At different times, Courtney Burke kept it in the zone on the power play.
- Tatiana Rafter produced a shot.
- Janine Weber stole the puck from behind the net as the goalie played it.
- Miye D’Oench and Julia Herr put major pressure on the Russia defense.
- Morgan Fritz-Ward blocked a shot and brought the puck out with Janine Weber.
- Amanda Kessel and Courtney Burke each had clears at various points.
- Fritz-Ward and Kessel each brought the puck out directly at other times.
- Alexa Gruschow had a few steals as part of the effort.
- Mariia Batalova brought it in, Alevtina Shtareva had break, as did Anna Shokhina. Nina Pirogova kept the puck in the Riveters end for another opportunity.
- Mariia Batalova intercepted a Riveters pass. Anna Shokhina stole a puck which eventually lead to possession sequence for Russia. Elena Podkamennaia had a steal in the Russia zone that she took it all the way down for a chance and Ekaterina Lobova disrupted a pass.
- Ekaterina Smolentseva had a block, Olga Sosina blocked a shot and Angelina Goncharenko had a block on the power kill.
- When the puck got through the goalie’s pads and creeped towards the goal line Angelina Goncharenko kept it out of the net.
- Elena Podkamennaia cleared the puck at one point, Anna Shibanova eventually cleared it at another point and Ekaterina Smolentseva got it out of the Russia zone at a different time.
- Nina Pirogova had at least 2 penalty kill clears, Mariia Batalova, Ekaterina Lobova, Olga Sosina, Iya Gavrilova had at least one.