It’s been a busy few weeks. What did we miss from the Riveters? Let’s see… Ashley Johnston rocks the groutfit to end all groutfits, Taylor Holtze owns two ducks, and in a ‘Stars, They’re Just Like Us’ moment, Janine Weber and Kiira Dosdall rollerblade to the grocery store.
Oh, yeah, and the Riveters won. Twice.
Of course, I didn’t watch either of those games, which were both match-ups against the Boston Pride. It’s great to see the Rivs getting on the board and gaining some confidence—at some point I’ll hopefully come back around to take a better look at what their keys to success were, but for now, let’s look at the Riveters’ most recent game.
I trekked out to New York home ice at Aviator Sports & Events Center for the first time… and I don’t think ‘trek’ is the wrong verb to use. Coming from lower Manhattan to the rink in Brooklyn involved taking two subways and then hopping on the Q35 bus at Ave H, all the way out to Aviator. And back. Not, by any means, an insurmountable challenge, but definitely a solid hour and a half. A tip: the Q35 bus leaves from the Avenue H side of the Target, which isn’t quite at the actual intersection of Avenue H and Flatbush—I was a little lost until, like a beacon through the night, I spotted a girl in a Fujimoto jersey and followed her. Also, once you get off the bus, hope you’re with other Riveters fans like I was, because the route across the grounds of Floyd Bennett Field to Aviator is not particularly well-marked.
The game itself was exciting—plenty of shots fired off by both teams (36 by Buffalo, 28 by New York), resulting in a strong showing by all goalies. Both teams were held scoreless in the first, and while the Riveters looked less physically aggressive than they have previously, their play looked more organized than ever. In the early minutes of the second, the teams looked about equal—both Hanrahan of New York and Bozek of Buffalo had shots that looked inevitable, but just didn’t make it. It was the Riveters’ powerhouse Madison Packer, however, who lit it up halfway through the period. With the score 1-0 for the home team, the crowd seemed enthusiastic and the Riveters ready to take the win.
While it’s never 100% obvious what causes a team to lose their lead, it’s pretty easy to point to the collision with Fujimoto late in the 2nd as a major factor. She was visibly slow to get up from the run-in with a Beaut, and allowed two goals by Buffalo’s Devon Skeats in the first twelve minutes of the third. While many of the Riveters were dead-set on blocking shots with any part of their body they could, Fujimoto needed to get off the ice, and the coaching staff subbed in Scrivens (for the first time!) at the 13:30 mark. (Fujimoto was later helped off the ice, seemingly favoring one leg.)
Desperation seemed to get the best of the Riveters as the final minutes wore down, and their previously impressive play suffered, becoming less disciplined and coordinated. The defining moment of that issue came when Scrivens was pulled for an extra Riveters attacker and Buffalo managed to sneak an empty-netter with just seven seconds remaining. And that was it. In twenty-two minutes, the game went from a powerful Riveters team effort to a hard loss.
In the interest of making some sense of it all, let’s talk about plus/minus. Not real plus/minus, which I am not nearly enough of a fancystats person to use regularly, but a fake version which hopes to provide some clarity on the Riveters’ situation right now:
PLUS: The First Two Minutes – Spent exclusively in the Buffalo zone, the Riveters looked completely dominant and confident from the get-go.
MINUS: The Third Period – The Riveters have had issues in the final twenty before, allowing two Whale goals and four Pride goals in their respective first matchups. They’d seemed to have overcome that in the last two games versus the Pride, but it appears that their stamina issues aren’t over yet.
PLUS: Beth Hanrahan – I have in my notes that she was “doin’ God’s work,” by which I meant to say Hanrahan had a number of great shots and was working super hard consistently throughout the game.
MINUS: Celeste Brown – Now, this isn’t ‘real’ plus/minus, so I’m not saying that the Riveters are worse with Brown on the ice. With six of the Riveters’ twelve penalty minutes, however, I’m worried that Brown is becoming the bear to poke to draw a penalty from the Riveters.
PLUS: Madison Packer – Three goals in three games makes Packer the highest goal-scorer on the Riveters, and a force to be reckoned with. She’s 5’9, but plays like she’s 6’2, including almost-kinda leveling a linesman at one point.
MINUS: Dani Rylan – Stood directly behind me the entire second period, forcing me to anxiously cover my (only somewhat) critical notes with a sheet of paper like I was taking a sixth-grade math test. (This is a joke.) (Sort of.)
PLUS: Taylor Holze – Blocked shots like her life depended on it, moved like lightning around the ice, and got great shots off, including an amazing breakaway at the midpoint of the second period.
The New York Riveters face the Boston Pride yet again on Sunday in Boston, and then return home to take on the (UNDEFEATED) Whale on the 13th. I hope to see them taking less penalties and playing through the full sixty minutes without fading, especially because they’ve proved before that they can take the Pride. And as always… let’s go Riveters!