Well Rivs Nation, it’s been a long summer, but we finally made it. Riveters hockey is back!!
When I last wrote a Rants and Raves, the Rivs had just won their play-in game against the Whale, and were packing their bags to take on the Whitecaps in Minnesota. Unfortunately, their post-season success ended in Newark. Travel hiccups and scheduling decisions soured the Riveters semi-final game before the puck was even dropped. After the loss to the Whitecaps, we experienced one of the WILDEST women’s hockey off-season yet. #ForTheGame was dominating the news, and I was more concerned about the league, and which players were going to sign, leaving little time to focus on how the Riveters were going to make the necessary changes to recover from a lackluster Season 4.
To my (cautiously optimistic) delight, the Riveters emerged from the off-season with a brand new roster, a much needed coaching change, and a new look just in time to tackle Season 5. Now the only thing left to do is start the season! On Saturday we got to see the Riveters test their skills against the LIU Sharks, a brand new addition to NCAA women's hockey, in a great pre-season game!
~ The team needs a bit more time together to iron out the kinks. They need to solidify passing, and get used to where everyone is on the ice. Despite some defensive breakdowns early on, they quickly found their footing, and had better conditioning to hold their own and outlast the Sharks. However a misplay, or a collision with a teammate in the regular season will be capitalized on by the other teams in the NWHL. It's nothing that can't be solved with a few more practices and some more ice time together. Fortunately, this season is longer, so they will have extra time to gel.
~ There were several times in the game when a Riveter had a breakaway, and were streaking towards the goal, leaving the Sharks defense in the dust. However, instead of shooting immediately, they always hesitated once they were in front of the goalie trying to set up a perfect shot. This gave the goalie a chance to compose herself. Take the shot, no hesitation! I love the hustle, and I think this is another thing that a few more practices will help smooth out.
~ Kartanbay needs to be careful not to stick handle too much. While she’s incredibly skilled, and it’s very fancy and impressive to watch, one poke check and she'll be stripped of the puck!
~ While the Rivs are known for their tough and feisty style of hockey, they need to be careful about taking penalties! It’s nice to see them bring their all for a chippy game, whether the match counts or not. I’ll admit it’s fun to watch … but that's not a reason to take unnecessary penalties!!
~I had no idea who scored or got assists during the game, the PA system at Iceworks was pretty bad. The speaker was on the opposite side of the bleachers, and was muffled by the crowd noise.
~ This rant is directed at myself: I need to memorize the new roster and numbers. I don't know who's who!!
~ Not going to lie, this game was fun to watch. It's been awhile since we've seen the Rivs play with such lightness and joy. Good way to start off the season.
~ Nice job so far, coach! I like the style of hockey you're implementing with the team. Much more possession, speedy lines, and overall a more offensive system. Looking forward to seeing the play develop as the season goes on. From the admittedly small sample size of this one game, I’m hopeful that the system is being built for the players strengths, instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I can’t wait to see it in action against other NWHL teams.
~ This preseason game gave us a taste of everything you could see in a hockey game. 5-on-5, 4-on-4, 5-on-3, power plays galore, and plenty of penalty kills. I'm going to give a special shout out to the power play. We frequently saw 4 forwards and 1 defender being sent out. Not only that, Morse was usually out as the defender. One could argue that there were really 5 forwards on the ice, since she and Packer were on the points shooting into the crease. It was such a striking change compared to last season, but very much welcome as it was fairly successful this game!
~ Lots of shots on goal and collecting rebounds! Another welcome change compared to last season. According to the Sharks game stats, shots on goal were lopsided towards the Riveters 48-16. Cornine was especially good, getting tons of SOG, and finishing the game with 5 points. She had quite a game!! Welcome to the Rivs!
~ Shout out to Baker, Cornine, Packer, Rushton, Avery for all the goals!
New team, who this? But seriously, a big welcome to all the new faces on the team. it was fun to watch everyone play and work together.
This preseason match was good for the players, we got to see what the Riveters need to work on, and what's already working well. Also, they didn't have all their players dressed, so they should only get more stable once the full roster is available (especially with the addition of Dosdall, an absolute rock for the Rivs for the past four seasons). As a fan, it makes me very optimistic!
However, even with this success, we know the regular season won't be a cakewalk. Gotta keep it up, and be ready to take on some very good teams. With that said, Saturday's game against LIU reminded me why I love watching women's hockey, and why I love the Riveters. I can't wait for the regular season to start.