It was a different day, at a different rink, but the score was identical and the story nearly the same as last week’s defeat against the New York Riveters. Returning the favor the Pride dealt them back in October, the Rivs spoiled the Pride’s home opener at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
For the second week in a row, the Pride lost a 3-2 contest to the Riveters in which Nana Fujimoto was outstanding, stopping 41 of 43 shots. The New York defense kept the Pride out of the middle of the ice, forcing them out along the boards and limiting their attack. Once again, it was a tough first period for Pride goalies. Brittany Ott allowed two goals in one minute, the first by Brooke Ammerman, assisted by Janine Weber.
Madison Packer scored the second, unassisted, after a giveaway by the Pride.
Halfway through the period, the Pride were able to take advantage of a power play opportunity as Hilary Knight scored the first-ever goal in front of the home crowd to huge cheers
Just 30 seconds later, however, the Riveters caught the Pride sleeping and Meghan Fardelmann snuck one between Ott’s pads.
The Riveters looked their most vulnerable when they were on the penalty kill, a challenge they had to overcome six times. To open the second period, Celeste Brown was called for roughing just 41 seconds in and the Pride didn’t hesitate to cash in. Knight and Amanda Pelkey were able to draw Fujimoto from the goal and Pelkey tapped it home.
Later in the second period, Jordan Smelker scored the game-tying goal…or so we thought. After review, (we learned today that the NWHL does indeed have video review), the goal was called off for kicking. The kicking motion is obvious, but it’s unclear whether or not Smelker taps the puck in with her stick afterwards. No matter how many times I watch this I still can’t quite tell.
The Pride had a goal overturned, kicked in by the Pride. pic.twitter.com/84DTm6qxkL— NWHL Gifs (@nwhlgifs) November 22, 2015
Despite several more chances in the third and spending extended minutes in front of Fujimoto’s net, the Pride couldn’t produce the tying goal. Aside from being unable to get past Nana, the Pride seemed to have communication issues during the first period, failing to connect on passes and turning the puck over several times. After two losses in a row, the Pride players were understandably frustrated.
"It all stems from playing a full game and we didn't," Kacey Bellamy said postgame. "We let them get two quick goals on us and that's not the type of team we are. I think if we learn to play a full 60 minutes it's gonna be better for us."
Additionally, Bellamy voiced another serious challenge the team faces: the Pride only practice twice a week, in 50 minute sessions, because of limited ice time availability. "If we can get one more team practice it would really help us," she said. This is a reality that would seem unfathomable to NHL players. The Bruins will soon have their very own practice facility in Allston-Brighton, the Warrior Ice Arena, which will open in September 2016. In a perfect world, the Pride may be able to practice there as well. Until then, the Pride have to continue sharing the ice at Allied Veterans Memorial Rink in Everett.
Next week, it doesn't get any easier for the Pride, as they must face the undefeated Connecticut Whale for the first time ever. In front of their home crowd, the Pride will try to dethrone the number one team in the league and get back to their winning ways at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. By the way, the Riveters return to Boston on December 6 if you want to grab tickets for what will hopefully be a game of revenge.