Riveters “Pack” A Punch in Overtime Victory Over Boston

by Jacob Solomons

The Riveters don’t like to be shut out on the scoreboard, especially not on home ice. Game two would provide an opportunity of redemption for Metro to get back in the win column. In Sunday’s season finale between The Pride and Riveters, we felt the intensity of their rivalry through all 60 minutes. Boston’s offense was much to be desired in Saturday’s matchup, despite the 2-0 victory. Puck control, offensive rushes, and pass attempts were the weaknesses that plagued Boston throughout regulation. Sunday was a bit better, capitalizing on more chances but ultimately couldn’t get the job done as Metropolitan would come away with the 3-2 overtime victory.

 

First Period

The Riveters came out a bit scrappy, knowing they had to play a lot harder if they wanted to wear down Katie Burt in net. The first few minutes gave Metro the chance to take over the attacking zone, as Kendall Cornine would take the puck in and get a shot off, just missing once again off the post. A bit of déjà vu from Saturday afternoon, Cornine has favored Burt’s glove side in both games. The net front presence established by Metro, gave Boston a sense that this would not be an easy contest for them.

As mentioned before, the rivalry between the Riveters and Pride always adds excitement any time these two teams play. Some physicality early on really set the tone for the game with a few collisions left unaddressed by the officials. A puck battle in the Pride attacking zone would see Madison Packer take a nasty fall following an over-zealous poke check by Evelina Raselli. Packer was quite slow to get up, heading right to the trainer’s room. The poke check by Raselli hit Packer in the waist area, a sensitive area even with all the padding. We like a physical hockey game, but not when injuries start to happen. Unfortunately for the Riveters, there was no penalty on the play. The only thing generated was momentum for revenge by Metro.

Boston’s first attack got started about halfway through the first, as Taylor Wenczkowski kept her momentum rolling from Saturday’s 2-0 victory with a shot on Sonjia Shelly, creating some traffic in front of the net. “Turnover by Boston” was a common phrase used by the PHF broadcast team in Sunday’s contest, which means that it is quite noticeable the Pride can’t hold onto the puck for very long. Sure, the first period is a chance to get your gameplan ironed out, but passing and holding onto the puck is fundamental. If the fundamentals aren’t there, how can they expect to score and even win?

Some players heard the “turnover” comment and decided to change the narrative. Meghara McManus took control in the neutral zone for Boston, carrying the puck into the attacking zone along the boards. McManus would kick the puck out to Jillian Dempsey out front for the shot, deflected away by Shelly. Kali Flanagan found a rebound opportunity and fired a wrist shot on net, beating Shelly for the first goal of the day for Boston at 15:18.

With the slim chances Boston has gotten on offense over the past two days, crashing the net and generating traffic out front has been their most effective strategy. The final minute of play would see another offensive rush by Boston, Metro couldn’t clear the zone and instead found Jillian Dempsey’s stick who sent it off the post. Wenczkowski was waiting for her rebound and tipped the puck in for her second goal in two days…or did she?

The officials decided to take a look at the play, as there was a lot going on in front of the net. Potential goalie interference could deny Boston the goal, but that wasn’t it. The play in question was a kick-in goal by Wenczkowski, which can be disputed. Her skate was not intentionally in motion toward the net, but rather planted on the ice for balance and the puck just happened to deflect off the skate and into the net. The official ruling on the ice was a “no goal” decision which may come back to haunt the Pride. Since there was no opportunity to challenge the play, per league rules, I guess we can only say that Wenczkowski’s skate was in the wrong place at the right time.

With the questionable call behind us, Boston would have the first intermission to reassess their gameplan and find a way to get that goal back on the board.

SCORE: BOS – 1, MET – 0.


Second period

Boston’s lead gave them a sense of comfortability as we saw in Saturday’s game. The motivation in the locker room during intermission seems to be missing some pizzazz, as the Pride were off to a slow start to open the second. The Riveters were able to take advantage of the Pride’s semi-lackadaisical effort on offense, giving them a chance to break out on the other end. Metro had a 2-on-1 sequence that seemed to be in slow motion, carefully executed allowing Burt to read the play perfectly, putting a glove on it for the save. The PHF broadcast team gave high praise to Katie Burt as they noted: “88 in yellow is impossible to beat.” The PHF broadcasters certainly have done their homework as Katie Burt has been nothing short of a wall in net, allowing no goals in the last seven periods as starting netminder. 

Sonjia Shelly had some work in the first period, with nine shots sent on by Boston. The second period would be a bit different as Kali Flanagan began to establish the offensive zone in the first few minutes for  the Pride. Flanagan’s shots were sent just wide of the net, giving Metro the chance to catch a rebound and transition to offense.

The Riveters capitalized on a blocked shot in the defensive zone, as Madison Packer cleared the puck and took control at neutral ice. Packer entered the zone firing, deflected by Burt off to the side. Mallory Rushton was waiting on the wing for the deflection as she tipped the rebound past Burt for Metro’s first goal at 5:31. “We’ve really just focused on chipping the pucks and getting them in deep,” said Rushton. The Riveters have gotten their chances off Boston defensive unawareness, which has caught up to them on the scoreboard.

Boston’s attacking zone was anything but that, as the puck control issues began to plague the Pride’s forward lines. The Riveters were on defense, yet in full control keeping the Pride on the outside closing the lanes out front. Circling the puck to the blue line, Rebecca Russo would poke the puck out of the zone and controlled it along the boards. Russo would find room to cut in and test Burt, deking out the defender and throwing a backhander over the shoulder of Katie Burt, giving Metro the lead 2-1.

Rushton spoke about the Riveters’ opportunities on offense during the second intermission: “I think our goal, it’s just sticking with [the puck] for us, it gets us on the board. Getting two goals really gave us the motivation and built our confidence so hopefully we can get one more.”

The scoring chances for Metro would present themselves in due time but Kendall Cornine would delay their momentum following a tripping call at 14:49. As the Pride head on the player-advantage, we have to keep our fingers crossed that they can make something happen offensively. Boston’s powerplay, as we’ve discussed many times, has not been the best this season. Unfortunately the Pride were unable to capitalize yet again on Cornine’s penalty, moving their powerplay success to 3%.

Boston had a hard time keeping the offensive zone in their control, but following the powerplay, they were able to pick up some momentum. Kali Flanagan got the offense started, skating it into the attacking zone, as she was met along the board by Metro defenders. Flanagan sent it in down to Jillian Dempsey, controlling it behind the net, rebound her own shot on Shelly glove side, and send It out front to Meghara McManus.

McManus crashed the net and sent a shot along finding the back of the net, tying the game for Boston at 17:29. McManus with her fourth goal of the season. The Pride were unable to connect on shots from mid-range or the blue line, so creating traffic out front and crashing the net is the most effective strategy for them. Rightfully so, two goals on the doorstep in two days is pretty effective. In the final minutes of the second, Boston kept the momentum, but it would not be enough to find a third goal to take the lead before intermission.

End of the Second: BOS – 2, MET – 2.


Third Period

In the final frame of play, both teams seemed a bit lethargic in the first few minutes of the period. Trying to find an opening for an offensive chance and potential go-ahead goal was more difficult than anything. As we saw in Saturday’s game, passing and puck control was the biggest issue. Sunday’s contest proved no different as holding onto the puck in any zone was a challenge. In a defensive sense, this is the exact gameplan the Rivs and Pride were hoping to execute. A few shots were sent in, but nothing connected as most were blocked or kicked away by defenders.

Extracurricular activities in the neutral zone would send Sammy Davis and Emily Janiga to the box at 5:00 for roughing. The “even-strength” penalty provided us with some 4-on-4 action. The powerplay/penalty kill gave Boston the opportunity to take the puck in deep and get an opening, but Metro was right on top with their strong defense. The Pride had a few chances on a wide-open lane, but nothing appealed as they decided to pass the puck around instead of shooting it. When trying to expand the lead, pucks on net is more important.

The Pride were in transition to make another offensive attack but instead got caught up with a penalty on Christina Putigna for hooking at 6:28. The penalty kill unit has been successful all weekend so there wasn’t too much worry in the mind of Pride fans, but you can never be too sure. The Pride found an open lane as McKenna Brand took command on a breakaway from the neutral zone, skating in and tried to lift it over Shelly’s shoulder, but was denied on the attempt. Both penalties killed off successfully, no goals for either team. The Riveters penalty kill has been decent this season, with an 85% success rate. Their powerplay unit has scored on 16% of their chances, a statistic that Boston is surely envious of as they sit with a 3% success rate on the player-advantage.

The Pride are as good at drawing penalties as they are killing them off, with Christina Putigna heading back to the box for body-checking. Metro would get another chance to take advantage and improve on their 16% powerplay success rate. The Boston PK unit held down the fort as the Riveters were unable to take advantage, as the penalty was successfully killed off.

The final two minutes of regulation were a back and forth battle, nobody giving an inch. Boston could not hold onto the puck which has been their tragic flaw this past weekend; the Riveters controlled their offensive zone but could not get any shots to connect with the back of the net. With the clock winding down, the pushing and shoving picked up along the boards. The period would end with no definitive winner, as the impending Overtime period would hopefully sort it out.

SCORE: BOS – 2, MET – 2.


Overtime

Any time there is an overtime period, the anxiety levels skyrocket. All the hard work your team exercised in regulation could come crashing down. The fatigue levels had become quite evident as the “fourth period” would get underway in New Jersey. Boston carried a 3-0 overtime record, heading into Sunday’s sudden-death round.

Most of the period would be played along the boards, which was apparently the most popular area of the ice even though they had all the open space they could ask for. Playing 3-on-3 hockey is advantageous for the Pride, playing on the shorthand is their specialty. Unfortunately, they were just overpowered by Metro, who were keen on Boston’s gameplan.

A few 2-on-1 opportunities for Boston, started on by Christina Putigna, were not executed with full intensity. Skating into the zone at 75% speed is not going to add the pressure they need to wear down the defense. A few routine saves by Shelly would keep Metro in the game, slowing turning things in their favor. The Riveters controlled the puck for most of the period, draining the clock as best as they could, preventing any time for Boston to generate offense. Rebecca Russo hustled to the puck at any open opportunity, tiring out the Boston defense. McKenna Brand would get a chance, skating in on the far left wing, cutting in to challenge Shelly with a shot that was stopped and kicked aside.

The Riveters took advantage of the Pride line change with Kristen Barbara controlling the puck in the neutral zone. Barbara passed up to Madison Packer who took the puck into the zone with Cornine by her side. Cornine caught a pass at the point, well-covered by the defender and sent it down to Maidson Packer. Packer cut into the middle to find space, dangled the two Boston defenders, and flipped a backhander out front over the shoulder of Burt for the game-winning goal.

Metropolitan had taken control for the entire overtime period, and in the end, the Pride couldn’t match their energy. With the overtime victory, the Riveters would improve to 6-11-1, taking sole possession of fourth place. Boston would earn their first overtime loss of the season, moving their record to 10-5-1. Even though the Pride have their roots planted firmly in third place, they have to put their foot on the gas to finish the season strong these next four games if they plan to make a statement in the playoffs.

Boston will continue their road trip as they travel to Canada to take on the Toronto Six, Saturday, March 12. Puck drop is set for 2pm at York Canlan Ice Arena.

Final Score: MET – 3, BOS – 2.