Honestly, what else is there to say? The Pride completely steamrollered the mismanaged Riveters, defeating them 8-1. It's hard to believe how this season has gone for the Rivs. I think the most frustrating part is watching a talented team get beat, literally and mentally, week in and week out. As fans we're sick of the poor coaching, and the inaction from the front office to help these players. No one wants to lose, not the fans, and especially not the players who are there to compete and win. It's tough going into these remaining games knowing there's a good chance the Rivs are going to lose. There's no entertainment watching the team's problems play out on the ice for all to see.
~ The goalie shuffle. It's not fair to the goaltenders, especially since the starting goalie seems to be chosen at random by the head coach. There is no real reason why one player gets the start, one is the backup, or one doesn't dress at all. Or at least, no reason we can discern. Check out Erica Ayala's post game interview with Randy where he attempts to explain the goalie rotation. If you want my honest opinion, Fitzy should have started Monday. At the very least, she should’ve been on the bench. She had a good game in her last start, and while the final score didn't result in a win, she was really solid. Randy's decision not to start Fitzgerald, but scratch her completely, was outright wrong. In addition to that, I know she was at the Hockey House watching the game, but she did not join the team to sign autographs post game. I can only imagine what she was feeling.
~ The Riveters kept shooting the puck directly at Burt. No change in the approach, it was the same play and shot. There needs to be more variety and creativity in the shots taken, especially against such an outstanding goalie. The Riveters desperately need to increase quality shots on goal, instead of just shooting the puck to the net hoping it goes in. Or if they're going to barrage the net with pucks, at least make sure you have a player there to get the rebound.
~ Overall it was an extremely rough game for the Rivs.
~ The Lawler, Lewicki, and Morse line were consistently in the Pride's end trying to get something going. While it may not have resulted in any points on paper, the effort wasn't missed. Good job, ladies.
~ Despite several of their players not dressed, and only playing with four Defense, the Pride were formidable opponents. They came to the Hockey House with their eyes on getting first place in the standings. They beat the Rivs with a dominant and (for the most part) penalty-free performance. Their match-up against the Whitecaps in March will not be a game to miss.
~ Kaleigh Fratkin had herself quite a game. It was hard not to notice her on the ice.
~ Amanda Kessel is such a dynamic player. Once it was 8-0, she was on a mission to ruin the shut out, and she did. That was a silver lining from this game for sure.
~ Kid's Day was great. Overall the league needs to have more involved fan days like this. It's a great way to make the games more fun, get the crowd invested, and really makes the day special. Or at the very least, distract from the on ice product.
The past two weeks have been quite the women's hockey high, and a nice escape for Riveters fans. From the statement performances made by Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker at the NHL All Star Game (dominating the conversation all weekend long), to the NWHL All Star Game in Nashville (catfish included!), and ending with the Rivalry Series between Team USA and Canada (even though the US lost), it's been a real treat for whockey fans, and has really helped generate so much excitement for women's hockey! The product is there, there are women's hockey leagues to watch top talent play, and it's never been easier to become a fan. However, the whockey holiday is over, and it's back to business for the teams in the NWHL.
Monday's game reminded us there are still major problems going on with the Riveters. At this point it seems like the only thing that can be done is finish the regular season, maybe rally to obtain home ice advantage for the Wild Card game, and attempt to end Season 4 on a high note. However the league, who own the Riveters, need to be looking for a new head coach for next season, and announce it before free agency begins. The league needs to prove it has the Riveters' players best interests in mind, and show their needs and concerns are being addressed. As a fan who has been following the Rivs for years, watching and going to games week after week, it's not hard to notice this season's particular brand of passionless play and visible defeat. In fact, it's not just the die-hard fans noticing something amiss, Monday's crowd were especially observant. From the dead silence in the third period after it became 8-0, to after the game with families waiting on the autograph line explaining coaching mismanagement to their kids. We're not here to lose, NWHL. We came for entertainment and wins. Deliver that, please. Fans are already mentally preparing to see many of their players depart in the offseason if nothing changes. The league needs to step up as owners.
In fact, the league needs to step up as owners not only for the Riveters, but for the Whale as well. While talent definitely increased this season, the Whale have been suffering from mismanagement for a couple of seasons now. It was eye opening watching the All Star game. Most of the goals were generated by Whale and Riveters players. It was exciting. Two teams already written off for the season had players taking advantage of the national spotlight and showing us how great they are. The Riveters and The Whale both have so much talent, they deserve to be given coaches with real experience, who are able to tap into the player's potential and continue improving the player's games. That is what the league needs to focus on in the offseason. Setting up all the teams they own with the tools to succeed and grow. There needs to be emphasis on creating proper structure and support to run these teams efficiently. Get it done.