By David F. Pendrys
STAMFORD, CT – The Metropolitan Riveters backed by Katie Fitzgerald’s excellent goaltending and featuring their usual swift attack, defeated the Connecticut Whale 5-1 Saturday night at Terry Conners rink. Though the game was not as lopsided as the score would suggest, the Whale did have several high quality scoring chances, but Fitzgerald dealt with all but one of them on her way to 28 saves.
“We knew what they were going to try to do. They have good team speed, they have a lot of good scorers on the team and we just didn’t want to get into exactly the way the game turned out to be, which was a higher scoring affair,” Whale Head Coach Ryan Equale said. “It’s just not a strength for us, and it’s fine, but it’s only fine if we can limit them to less than thirty shots, and obviously less than five goals.”
Penalties were a key part of the game as the Whale took six during the game, and two of the resulting Riveters Power Plays resulted in a goal, as well as a third tally happened just seconds after a penalty ended.
“I think that’s more than just one of those games because if you look at our body of work through three games, two of the three had a significant number of penalties,” Equale explained. “If we’re going to be giving up two power plays, and really their second or third goal was at right at the very end of a power play, it’s essentially giving up three power play goals in a game. You’re just not going to win hockey games if you give up three power play goals in a game so it has to be fixed.”
“I think part of that is getting in shape part, and we’ll start taking less stick infractions being able to move our feet more, being able to keep up, take that angle as opposed to hacking at them,” Jamie Goldsmith said.
“I think that we’re an aggressive team and we don’t want to change our style of play. We want to go out there and work hard and just be a little smarter with some of the play. We’re not going to change the way we play, we just have to be a little smarter,” Emily Fluke said on the penalties issue.
The Whale’s Kaycie Anderson scored at 12:16 in the first notching her first pro goal and giving CT it’s only lead. She had broken down the ice to the side of Fitzgerald and lined up a shot, deftly knocking it by the keeper and evading Courtney Burke’s desperate swing of a stick in the process.
“Kaycie Anderson getting her first goal of the year was a beautiful play,” Equale said. “She broke the puck out well, she made a nice pass to herself off the boards. Seeing players be creative, and having that offensive touch was nice to see.”
However less than two minutes later at 13:56, Jenny Ryan scored for Metro during an ensuing power play assisted by Alexa Gruschow and Courtney Burke. The Rivs rookie blasted a shot from deep in the zone past CT’s Sydney Rossman.
The first period would end an even 1-1, though the Redshirts had 11 shots to the Whale’s 7. Still both team had their chances. The Whale had ceded three penalties, including a five on three segment, though they survived.
In the second Metropolitan busted the game open, as Courtney Burke launched a shot from the point seconds after a penalty had expired and Rebecca Russo, who was screening Rossman, knocked it in at 7:59.
At 10:44, the newly returned Lauren Wash gave the Riveters a 3-1 lead assisted by Russo and Burke. Russo had been on one side of the net shooting. The rebound came to Wash on the other side and she tucked it into the wide swath of open net awaiting her.
At 13:54 Burke picked up her third Assist of the game as the secondary to a Tatiana Rafter goal assisted by Kiira Dosdall. Dosdall had slapped the biscuit from the point which Rafter then deflected mid flight into the net.
The period ended 4-1, though the Whale had put up 11 shots to the Riveters 7. Connecticut came out looking to tie things up in the third period despite the deficit, but they took two early penalties that they had to kill.
“I really loved the way that we came out in the third period….we limited their shots…I was happy with the team’s ability and willingness to respond knowing they were coming in down three goals in the third,” Equale noted.
Unfortunately for their efforts, on the second power play, Russo scored again assisted by Gruschow and Ryan. The puck had ended up right in front of the net, where Russo was living in this game, she fought with the defenders in the melee in front and got a stick on it to push it across the line.
The Whale did not give up throughout the period though and generated a multitude of opportunities. They had even had several scoring chances while killing penalties early on but Fitzgerald dealt with all of them. The Riveters put up 12 shots in the third, and the Whale 10.
Rossman made 25 saves on the day having to deal with the variety of attacks the Riveters threw from their flexed arm. This included preventing another Riveters goal by stuffing a Miye D’Oench attempt cold during the 5 on 3 penalty kill.
Dosdall and Rafter led the Rivs with 4 shots apiece, Wash, Picard, Russo, Gruschow, and Ryan all had 3. Erika Lawler, Bray Ketchum had 2, and Miye D’Oench, Harrison Browne, and Burke all had 1.
Kelly Babstock had 5 shots on goal to lead the Whale unsurprisingly. Rachael Ade, and Jordan Brickner had 3 apiece, and Stephanie Mock, Shannon Doyle, Anderson, Emily Fluke, Elena Orlando, Juana Baribeau and Grace Klienbach all had 2. Cydney Roesler, Sam Faber, and the newly arrived Paige Savage all had 1.
Babstock, Baribeau, and Klienbach were especially noticed for some of the attempts they generated whether it was Babstock using a spin move around a Riveters defender to break in on net, or Baribeau getting a breakaway on Fitzgerald alone. Klienbach pounced on a loose puck right in front of the Riveter netminder but her point blank shot was also saved. Babstock had at least two short handed tries on penalty kills and Baribeau had a serious attempt on the PK as well.
“Our coach wanted us to keep possession of the puck, and try to put some offense out because we needed those goals back. It was a lot of hard work by the PK’ers to keep control of that puck and make offensive chances,” Anderson said.
“If you look at the shots I think it was 30 to 28 so it doesn’t look like a close game on the scoreboard. A lot of chances, we just gotta finish,” Fluke said “…and we gotta eliminate some of their odd man rushes, some of their chances…it’s little things, it’s not huge things we need to make changes for.”
“I think we just need to be a little more focused,” Anderson said of what the team can do to increasing finishing. “We just had an eight minute period of a lack of focus and [led to] them scoring three goals, and it was hard for us to get back into it. We had a few penalties. Eliminating some of those penalties we took, and then focusing, and then finishing those shots that we have will really help us in the future.”
Burke, Ashley Johnston, and Picard led Metropolitan with 2 blocked shots each. Ryan, Grsuchow, and Russo also had one apiece. For the Whale, Orlando blocked 4 shots, Ade blocked 2, and Fluke, Doyle, Baribeau, and Mock, and Doyle each had a block. Fluke’s was especially impressive as she dived across the ice to stop a low shot.
Goldsmith also spoke to the team’s chemistry early on.
“We came together really quickly. It was very apparent in the locker room that we had a group was really to go to battle for each other. A good example of that is the win down in Boston. We went down but someone takes a run at our Captain, and we responded. A lot of good things happened leading up to the goal on the power play, and that was really what ignited our first win.”
(This is a not exhaustive very imperfect list of noticed plays that might not make the score sheet. It is very possible a player has far more of any sort of play than are noticed in the heat of action. It is what it is. Read these more as a player had “at least” what is noted here. Note the language is a bit stilted, I’m trying to figure out how to make the information flow better.)
(Also note: This list was compiled before I discovered the NWHL has Blocks as stats.)
Had a noticed block and moved the puck out of the zone.
Was often seen skating into the Whale zone to start up the offense including when she fought to get the puck in on one occasion. Generated several scoring chances. Also had a block on a penalty kill. Acquired the puck in the Riveters end several times to start it back out.
Had several zone entries.
She setup numerous scoring chances by skating the puck into the zone and feeding players like D’Oench and Gruschow, Also kept the puck from escaping the Whale zone at one point.
In addition to her offensive efforts and zone entries, she was noticed on a Whale power play for stealing the puck twice in their zone and skating around to waste time. She had several even strength clears.
She skated the puck in on the attack many times sending it off to Rafter, Russo, Ketchum or Burke to set up scoring attempts. She had her own shots at even strength and on the power play in addition to extracting the puck from the Riveters zone at even strength.
Had numerous zone entries, also acquired the puck in the neutral zone and skated right in. He also kept the puck within the Connecticut zone during an attack. Had a short handed try during a penalty kill, and at least one block as well.
Had numerous scoring chances during power plays. She also had at least one clear on the penalty kill, and moved the puck out of the defensive end at even strength several times.
Was seen keeping the biscuit in the CT area, and also intercepted one of their passes and skated in on the attack.
Played a role in numerous offensive setups including feeding it to Gruschow for a shot, and she also generated her own chances snatching up the puck in the Whale end. On the power play, her stickhandling produced another chance. Defensively she got it out of the Riveters zone several times, and disrupted a CT pass.
Had at least one block. Offensively she had numerous zone entries, including on the power play. She passed it to Ketchum for a scoring chance, and had her own as well. She was also a leader on the power play directing the offense.
She had at least two blocks, and offensively produced many chances including a pass that gave Picard a shot chance. She had her own opportunities throughout the game and grabbed the puck several times in the neutral zone to start them.
Had at least one block and also generated a team’s scoring chance.
Fluke had at least two blocks including one where she dived across the ice to prevent the shot. She had her own opportunities on the offensive side generating chances.
Defensively she disrupted a Riveters pass and extracted the disc many times from the CT zone. Her pass to Baribeau created an offensive opportunity and she even had a scoring chance during a penalty kill.
Orlando was very noticeable on defensive having at least 3 blocks, clearing the puck on a penalty kill, and moving it out numerous other times.
Was noticed on both sides of the ice, clearing it or skating it out on the penalty kill, moving it out of the CT end, and she also had numerous zone entries to try to generate offense. She also made sure the puck was out of the goal mouth during one Riveter attack, and on another instance stole it from a redshirt and skated down the ice.
Had multiple zone entries including a break right in on Fitzgerald alone. Also kept the puck from getting out of the Metro zone numerous times. She had at least one block.
Defensively stopped many Riveter efforts by grabbing the puck and exiting the CT end. She also intercepted a Metro pass during the PK and cleared it. She had at least one other clear on the penalty kill. She also produced several scoring chances including one break.
Faber produced several scoring chances and fed Babstock on at least one of them. She was as usual one of the offensive leaders.
Was noticed getting the puck in the offensive zone to prolong an effort.
Had a scoring chance on the power play and skated into the Metropolitan area numerous times. Also stole it from a Riveter to produce another chance.
Had at least one block. She sent numerous pucks out of the Whale end, or brought it out herself. Broke in on the Riveters end for a chance as well as she had several scoring chances.
Defensively she moved the puck out of the CT zone many times throughout the game. She also disrupted a zone entry during a penalty kill and skated it down the ice.
Babstock was responsible for a high number of zone entries and shots, several were of the highest quality. She also had at least two short handed tries.
She brought the puck in on the attack many times, including after a steal in the neutral zone and grabbing the puck in the defensive end.
Had at least one block, and played a key offensive role, feeding it to Faber for a scoring chance, keeping the puck from leaving the zone, and generating her own opportunities. She also snatched a loose puck right in front of Fitzgerald for a quick shot.