Month: September 2016 (page 1 of 8)

Jay Varady Tabbed Head Coach of US Junior Select Team

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By Randy Schultz – NY Hockey Online

Jay Varady (Cahokia, Ill.) has been named head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team that will participate in the 2016 World Junior A Challenge from Dec. 11-17, in Bonnyville, Alberta, it was announced by USA Hockey.

In addition, JB Bittner (Pittsburgh, Penn.) and Chris Hartsburg (Edina, Minn.) have been tabbed as assistant coaches.

Serving as head coach at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge, Varady helped guide the U.S. Junior Select Team to its sixth title in seven years at the event. He was also the video coach for the gold medal-winning 2010 U.S. National Junior Team and assistant coach of the 2010 U.S. Under-18 Select Team that took second place in the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

Varady is in his fourth season as head coach of the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers. He has led Sioux City to a pair of Clark Cup Playoffs appearances in his first three seasons, including a record-setting 2014-15 campaign in which the Musketeers tied its franchise record with 38 wins.

Before joining Sioux City, Varady was the head coach of the Les Ducs D’Angers of France’s Ligue Magnus for two seasons (2011-2013). He also served as an assistant coach, associate coach and interim head coach for the Everett Silvertips in an eight-year span from 2003-2011. Varady began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, Union College, during the 2000-2001 season.

Bittner is currently in his first season as the associate head coach of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. He previously served as an assistant coach for the University of Wisconsin (2015-16), USHL’s Tri-City Storm (2013-15), ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays (2011-13) and his alma mater, Ohio State University (2008-10).

Hartsburg is in his third season as head coach of the USHL’s Lincoln Stars after leading the club to 33 wins and a Clark Cup Playoffs appearance in 2015-16. Prior to joining Lincoln, Hartsburg served one year (2013-14) as an assistant coach for the Erie Otters and four years (2009-12) as an assistant for the Everett Silvertips. Hartsburg began his coaching career as an assistant with the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League in 2008-09.

Connecticut Splits With Team Russia

By Andrew Weiss National Women’s Hockey League

With the Russian National Team finishing up their trip stateside, Liudmila Belyakova decided to throw a going away party. Unfortunately for the Connecticut Whale, Team Russia brought the fireworks.

Belyakova scored the opening goal and Nadezhda Morozova added 24 saves as Russia defeated Connecticut 3-2 in the final preseason game for both teams.

Angelina Goncharenko scored the game winning goal on the power play in the second period for Russia. Yekaterina Smolentseva scored the second goal and picked up an assist while Olga Sosina added two assists.

Kelly Babstock and Kelli Stack each scored a goal for Connecticut. Nicole Connery and Haley Skarupa each chipped in an assist.

“I think in the third period we (started to) come together,” said coach Heather Linstad. “Their goalie played very well.”

New night, same strong start for Russia as they flew onto the ice.  Olga Sosina dumped the puck around the boards to Smolentseva behind the net. She found Belyakova in the slot unattended and Belyakova put it past a sliding Stock to give Russia the early 1-0 lead.

That same defensive breakdown for the Whale continued into the first. Team Russia managed four shots uncontested right in the slot, with Stock coming up big to stop the last three.

She couldn’t stop Smolentseva later in the first, as a Russian turnover at the Russian blue line turned into a breakaway. Fanuza Kadirova gathered the puck and sent it up to Smolentseva, who beat Stock five-hole to give Russia the 2-0 lead in the first.

Stock held down the fort as best she could as the period ended with the shots in favor of Team Russia 12-8.

The second period, however, was marked by special teams. Nicole Kosta drew a crosschecking penalty on Anna Shibanova with eight seconds left in the first, putting Connecticut on the power play to start the second.

The Whale quickly capitalized as Skarupa looped a pass between two defenders to Stack, who finished on the partial breakaway to make it 2-1.

The Whale continued to attack the Russian neutral zone defense, dominating possession for almost the whole period. They outshot Team Russia 11-7 and created multiple chances.

Their effort would go for naught, as Morozova locked down her crease with multiple pad saves. She was key as Russia killed off two more power plays before heading to their own advantage.

Anya Battaglino took a penalty after being pressured on the forecheck, and Russia setup by bombing the Connecticut net. Eventually, a point shot by Goncharenko knuckled its way over the blocker of Shenae Lundberg to give Russia the 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.

The Whale resumed their possession game early in the third period. After a series of extracurriculars in front of Morozova, Russia sent two players to the box for roughing to Connecticut’s one, giving the Whale a power play. It was further advantageous for the Whale when Elena Dergacheva took a tripping penalty only 19 seconds into the original Whale power play.

Babstock scored the 5-on-3 goal to cut the deficit to one with 3:09 left to play in the third. Connery took a point shot from Molly Engstrom into her gear but managed to swirl it in front through the crease. The puck bounced around before finding its way to Babstock, who found a wide open net and a power play goal.

The Whale continued to spare (spar?) the Russian net, but Morozova continued to shine on her way to being named the second star of the game. She stayed firm as Team Russia withheld an onslaught of shots in the final 1:30 with the Whale net empty.

World Cup caps Team Canada’s decade of dominance

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By Chris Johnston – Sportsnet

There had always been something rooted deep in Canada’s hockey DNA that required our best players to flirt with disaster before eventually delivering glory.

We dug a hole in the 1972 Summit Series. We fell behind 3-0 in the final game of the 1987 Canada Cup. We had a loss and a tie early in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. We needed to play an extra qualification game just to reach the quarter-finals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

And then this group came along and completely rewired what it meant to be Team Canada.

“Special, special players,” coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday night.

They will be remembered for a level of best-on-best dominance never before seen. In games featuring the world’s top players and the slimmest margin for error, they produced something approaching perfection.

Even in a tense and tight final series with Team Europe, where late goals from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were needed to capture the World Cup, there was a purpose and a belief and a level of execution that no other team in the world could match.

“You start these tournaments all the time and they’re always saying ‘this team’s good and that team’s good,”’ said Babcock. “You know in the end, you’ve got to deliver. And you can say anything you want about the game tonight, but we delivered.”

This group? They always do.

It goes much deeper than the 16-game winning streak they’ll carry into the next best-on-best event, which at this point is denoted by an asterisk and “TBD” on the international calendar.

Look at this roster. Look how these players have performed with a Maple Leaf on the front of their sweaters – whether at the Olympics, world junior tournament, IIHF World Hockey Championship or this World Cup.

Jonathan Toews is now 47-1-1.

He was the one dragging three Europeans in his direction on a solo short-handed rush just before setting Marchand up for the winning goal with 43.1 second left in regulation. He embodies the “we before me” spirit at the heart of this team.

“I think it’s hitting us right now how special this really is,” said Toews, wearing yet another championship cap. “All tournament the talk has been that there hasn’t been a whole lot of challenges for our team. That’s what it looks like from the outside. You ask around our team and that’s not necessarily the case.”

Sidney Crosby is now 45-5 in games with the national team.

Babcock referred to the captain as a “serial winner” after watching him get named tournament MVP and pick up his tournament-best 10th point in Wednesday’s victory.

“Sid’s unbelievable,” said Babcock. “You’re pretty fortunate to get to hang around with him.”

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Canada’s dominance in best-on-best competitions since losing to the USA in prelim round of 2010 Olympics.

Then there’s Ryan Getzlaf (43-3-2), Shea Weber (40-2-1), Bergeron (37-5-1), Corey Perry (33-6-1) and Drew Doughty (31-3-1).

It doesn’t end there.

Carey Price is now 16-0 in starts at the World Cup, Olympics and world junior tournament, and had to be at his best for Team Canada to sweep Europe out of this final. The save he made on Marian Hossa in the dying minutes paved the way for a dramatic victory.

It’s little wonder why the confidence never wavered even as the possibility of a do-or-die Game 3 hung in the air.

“It was always one shot away,” said Bergeron. “It’s always ‘who wants to be that guy?’ And there’s so many guys in this dressing room that want to be in that position. We have so much talent in this dressing room that we knew all we needed was one bounce to go our way.”

At its core, hockey is a game of bounces played with a frozen piece of rubber on ice.

That’s why it’s unreasonable to expect any one country or team to have a run of success like this one. The game was born here and is cherished most deeply here, but that doesn’t grant Team Canada immunity from the things that can go awry when you’re in a must-win situation.

If we’re being truthful, it’s very likely this run of complete domination ends here.

The roots of this team can be traced back to the 2005 world junior tournament, where Canada crushed its opposition and started a golden five-year run at that event. Those players are now in the primes of their careers and adding to their unparalleled international resumes.

Even with a generational talent like Connor McDavid on the horizon, it will be a tall task for the next generation to go through tournament after tournament without so much as losing a game.

“The perception is that we’re miles better than everyone else,” said Babcock. “I think our country’s deeper, but you only get to play five guys at a time. … That’s what I said to the guys tonight: ‘I’m proud of you; I’m proud that we’re building hockey players to follow you, they want to be the next one. We keep celebrating success.’

“And the only way you get to celebrate being the best in the world is when you prove it, and so we’ve been fortunate to do it many times.”

We should all take a moment to stop and appreciate what they’ve accomplished.

Team Canada has won nine of the 13 best-on-best tournaments ever held, but it has never been such a machine. The perfect mix of talent and preparation and focus.

A rebooted World Cup came with new challenges – the September start, stronger hybrid opponents like Team Europe to overcome – but it ended in familiar fashion. With the Canadian flag being raised to the rafters and “O Canada” being played over the intercom.

“The game is getting bigger all the time each and every year, but we’re still getting better than every other country,” Wayne Gretzky said earlier this week. “Everybody always gets nervous and scared (wondering) ‘are we losing our game?’ But we’re never going to lose our game. It’s Canada’s game, it’s Canadians.

“I’m just so impressed by how much depth and how many good hockey players we have in this country now. We seem to be getting even better and stronger, which is pretty incredible.”

Whale Defeat Team Russia in Pre-Season Opener

By Andrew Weiss National Women’s Hockey League

The lights shone bright on the ice as the Connecticut Whale were welcomed into their new home in Northford. With the Russian National Team in town, former Quinnipiac stars Kelly Babstock and Cydney Roesler made the homecoming a rousing success, scoring a goal apiece as the Whale stormed back to defeat the Russians 3-2.

The Whale’s goals were scored by Meagan Mangene, Kelly Babstock, and defenseman Cydney Roesler, who potted the game winner with 5:27 left in the third period. Shenae Lundberg stopped 18 in her start, while  Nicole Stock finished with 10 saves in relief, picking up the win. Former Quinnipiac forward Nicole Connery added an assist, totaling three points on the night for former Bobcats. Molly Engstrom also chipped with in two assists. Russia’s goals both came from Liudmila Belyakova in the second period, while Russian goaltender Maria Sorokina made 15 saves in the loss.

Russia started off flying in the first period, outshooting Connecticut six to one after ten minutes of play. However, the speed of the Whale back-checkers prevented any golden chances, with both Ivana Bilic and Haley Skarupa breaking up odd-man situations in the throughout the period.

Playing in their first game of the season, the Whale quickly shook off their rust before Mangene scored the game’s first goal near the end of the period. Engstrom had her first shot attempt blocked before eventually regaining possession on a pass from Shannon Doyle, her defensive partner. Her second shot found the stick of Mangene, who deflected past the outstretched glove of Sorokina.

Her goal was answered by two goals from former Riveter Liudmila Belyakova, both coming in the second period. Belyakova found twine after a pass from Iya Gavrilova found her stick alone in front of Lundberg. The tap in tied the game for Russia, and they continued to pound the Whale net.

Coach Linstad sent Stock in to relieve Lundberg after the first Russian goal, but Belyakova continued to create chances around the Whale net. Stock left a juicy rebound on another Belyakova shot, which the Russian pounced on, putting the puck in the net for a 2-1 Russian lead and her second goal of the game.

The Whale penalty kill held firm in the second, with rookies Nicole Kosta and Connery both making strong cases to remain on special teams. Both rookies also saw time on the Whale’s only power play of the second period, with both shots in the two minutes coming from Connery.

The Whale would battle back in the third period. Kelli Stack and Anna Shibanova received matching minor penalties after some chippy play near the Russian bench. Soon after, the Whale found themselves on the power play as Yekaterina Smolentseva took a tripping penalty just 28 seconds into the four-on-four action.

This time, the advantage proved bountiful for Connecticut, as Babstock struck the back of the net for a power play goal. Both Connery and Engstrom picked up an assist on the goal.

“There was no one in front of me, so I had to shoot it,” said Babstock. “Or else,” she added, after a look from Coach Linstad.

Only 1:40 later, Connecticut took the lead on a goal from Roesler, the first of her professional career. “It’s a goal of mine to contribute more offensively this year than I did in college,” said Roesler. “It was great (because) I just whacked the puck to the net… (Stack’s) rebound came to me.” Her head coach agreed. “We want our (defenders) all the time to jump into the play and be smart about it,” said Linstad. “We established that in the very first practice.”

With only minutes remaining, the Whale refused to let the Russians pull Sorokina. Russia struggled to possess the puck in Connecticut’s zone, and the Whale pressed Sorokina with dump ins and shots until the final buzzer. The game ended with the puck behind Sorokina’s net.

Connecticut went 1-4 on the power play, while Russia went 0-3. The Whale will look to add to their impressive special teams this year after leading the league in both categories last season.

Linstad’s prognosis was certainly optimistic: ““I think we played fairly well. Obviously they had a step on us a little bit because they’ve been playing some games. For our first game I think we did a really good job of dictating play at certain times.”

Eriks Miluns will coach the Latvian U20 national team

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

Eriks Miluns will coach the Latvian U20 national team for the remainder of the season after having started with the team and summer and will also be the team’s head coach at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto, Canada, 26 December – 5 January.

His position was formally approved by the board of the Latvian Hockey Federation.

The U20 national team will prepare for the World Juniors with a Four Nations Tournament in Austria, 3-5 November, where it will play Austria, Belarus and Denmark. On 7 and 8 December the Latvians will play two exhibition games against Kazakhstan in Riga before travelling to Canada where more games are planned before the start of the World Juniors.

Latvia will start the tournament in Group B in Toronto with Russia, the United States, Canada and Slovakia as opponents.

Imperfect Canada more than good enough in Game 1

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By Chris Johnston – Sportsnet

In a best-of-three final, this is how Team Canada breaks your heart.

It will start slow and gift you a power play on the opening shift. It will continue to be sluggish, and cough up the puck too often, and open the door of hope ever so slightly. It will deliver its flattest performance in years … and win.

Like the kid who has everything, this group has a way of making all others feel a little bit jealous.

“You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real,” said coach Mike Babcock.

What is real is the fact the World Cup is now within reach. Another victory on Thursday will give the country its third straight best-on-best tournament dating back to the 2010 Olympics.

This was as sloppy as we’ve seen Team Canada since the early stages of the Vancouver Games. It hardly mattered.

Coached by Ralph Krueger, the man who assisted Canada in reaching near-perfection in Sochi, Team Europe found a way to disrupt the machine. It forced repeated turnovers during the opening two periods and found itself an unsuccessful Andrej Sekera breakaway from tying the score heading to the third.

The visitors delivered their best.

“We had spurts when we let them outplay us,” acknowledged Canadian defenceman Drew Doughty.

Fortunately, there was Carey Price to cover over the occasional pothole.

A world-class bunch in front of him helped, too, as goals by Brad Marchand and Steven Stamkos both came in transition. Team Canada’s third of the night – which gave it a 3-1 lead at 9:24 of the third period – proved to be a dagger.

First Sidney Crosby almost banked a shot in from behind the goal-line. Then he grabbed the puck, spun off defenceman Mark Streit and slid a backhand pass through Christian Ehrhoff and on to the stick of Patrice Bergeron in the slot.

Imagine being a member of the underdog Team Europe in that moment. You’ve played a great game, got within a whisker of dreaming about an upset and the best player in the world dashes all of those thoughts inside three inspirational seconds.

Crosby now leads the World Cup with nine points in five games, trailed only by linemates Marchand (seven) and Bergeron (six). He’s basically got his hands on the MVP award already.

“I’m not going to say it’s the best hockey he’s ever played because he plays so well in the NHL all the time,” teammate Ryan Getzlaf said of Crosby. “But from when I’ve been playing with him, in the three (previous international) tournaments I’ve had the opportunity, I would say he’s playing unbelievable. Things are working for him now. He’s hot.

“Not that he didn’t play well at the other tournaments, he just didn’t get this hot.”

Team Canada has now reeled off a ridiculous 15 straight victories in best-on-best competition. Even the odd sloppy night is good enough to get by.

So now we’ll spend another day trying to calculate how Team Europe might possibly force a third game in this final series.

On one hand, Krueger’s team should be encouraged. This was its best game of the tournament and the Europeans managed to at least throw a hint of doubt into the outcome.

Despite that, however, they failed to get the job done.

“We’re here to continue to grow and to learn and evolve, and we’re very angry right now, which is a good thing,” said Krueger.

They’ve now had two cracks at Team Canada and can perhaps find a flaw or two heading into the third matchup. There really aren’t any secrets at this point.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Canada’s puck possession game get so disrupted on Thursday. The hallmark of this team is execution and it’ll adjust too.

“Well they’re just patient,” Crosby said of Team Europe. “They sit back a lot. When they do get a turnover, they have some guys who can skate and they come back at you pretty quickly. It’s just a matter of making sure we make good decisions with the puck.

“Just high percentage plays and we did that when we had opportunities.”

There had to be a strange sense of satisfaction in going back to the hotel with the knowledge that a perfect run through this tournament was at hand.

They had dodged a small bullet, and come out no worse for wear.

“Well it wasn’t our best,” said Stamkos. “I think we realize that. At this time of the tournament a win’s a win.”

Particularly when you only need one more to finish the job.

Riveters Split Series With Team Russia

By Rich Furlong National Women’s Hockey League

As if the jet lag had suddenly worn off, Team Russia came to life last night in their second and final bout with the New York Riveters.

It wasn’t lack of effort by the Riveters, as the team actually out-shot Team Russia 35-24 in the game. However, 19 year-old Russian netminder Nadezhda Morozova had an answer for just about everything the Riveters had to throw at her, only allowing one goal for a .971 save percentage on the night.

Team Russia came out flying, and was able to capitalize on their third shot of the game, only 3:12 into the first period as the shot trickled past Riveters goaltender Katie Fitzgerald. Michelle Picard made a valiant effort to stop the puck from crossing the goal line, but was just a little too late on the play.

The Riveters would push back, but the team’s momentum was impeded by back-to-back penalties from Courtney Burke and Kaleigh Fratkin, and the period ended with New York down 1-0.

Failed chances for the Riveters on the power play opportunities was the story of the second. Team Russia took 3 penalties in the period which led to a plethora of scoring chances for New York. But between Team Russia’s ability to block shots and Morozova’s stellar performance in net, the Riveters were unable to capitalize, despite having an 11-4 shot advantage in the period.

New York’s inability to score in the second would prove costly. Former Riveter Liudmila Belyakova scored on a Russia power play early in the third to put her country’s team up 2-0.

Team Russia would find themselves shorthanded four more times in the third period. This time New York would make them pay for it, as Amanda Kessel tallied her second goal in as many games to bring the Riveters within one with 4:30 left in the game.

Kessel’s goal would stand alone in the end, as two more penalties dashed the hopes on any last minute comebacks, and the Russian team would add two more goals (one with an empty net) as time expired.

“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Riveters GM and head coach Chad Wiseman said after the game, “the effort was there tonight, the legs definitely weren’t… We’ve got lots to work on and time to do it.”

Europe’s underdogs status against Canada is an understatement

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By Chris Johnston – Sportsnet

As Team Canada rolls towards the World Cup of Hockey final, it doesn’t see the two-tone sweater and unusual crest of its opponent.

There is no real thought given to the fact it will be trying to take down a collection of eight disparate nations.

No, what the Canadians see when they look at Team Europe is a team that has Anze Kopitar playing big minutes as a first-line centre and Roman Josi driving its top defence pairing. A team with Jaroslav Halak looking sharp in goal.

A team with a lot of really good NHL players who are worthy of their respect.

“They’re a great story, and shame on us if we don’t take them serious for what they’ve done to this point,” said GM Doug Armstrong.

The best-of-three final that gets underway at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night will be described as “David vs. Goliath.”

Looking at the rosters, the history and the situation, that may even be an understatement.

However, the biggest reason to expect this final to be a two games and done affair is the fact Goliath is wearing glasses. There is a clear-eyed approach to the way Team Canada is embracing this challenge that suggests it’s unlikely to get caught off-guard once the puck drops.

“Well I just think when you put all of those countries together there’s lots of good players there,” said coach Mike Babcock. “I like their back end, I like their goaltending. I think they’ve done a really good job through the middle of the rink with their team there. They’ve got a good looking team.

“So that’s why you play these games is all the experts can predict whatever they want. You’ve got to play the games and decide.”

It may be a simple truth, but it often gets forgotten until something surprising inevitably happens at a best-on-best tournament.

Something like Team Europe putting Team USA on the ropes immediately by winning the opening game. Or something like it following that up with a preliminary round victory over the Czech Republic and a 3-2 overtime win against Sweden in the semifinals where it played like every bit the equal of the world’s No. 2 hockey nation.

They have come further than even they could have imagined after being outscored 9-1 by Team North America over the first four periods of pre-tournament play.

Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger had said earlier in the event that “it’ll take a magical day, it’ll take a world-class goaltending performance, it’ll take something very, very special” for anyone to beat Canada here.

His group is the only one still with a chance.

“There’s opportunity there for us that we’re going to try and find,” said Krueger. “We want to make it difficult for Canada to win the World Cup.”

If nothing else, he will have an unusual amount of insight into the challenge after serving on Team Canada’s coaching staff at the Sochi Olympics. Krueger’s primary tasks there were helping adapt the game to the big ice from a tactical standpoint while preparing the group for how its European opponents would chase an upset.

It has been a decade since Team Canada truly suffered one of those.

Of course, Krueger was there as coach of the Swiss team that delivered the 2-0 victory against the Canadians in the preliminary round of the Turin Olympics.

His Team Europe group has far more skill and experience than Switzerland ever did, and we should expect to see the absolute best from Kopitar, Mats Zuccarello, Tomas Tatar and Marian Hossa in the only international games of this calibre they’ll likely ever get to play.

Their national teams aren’t at a level to threaten the big dogs and the plan from the beginning was to use Team Europe as a one-and-done concept, with a qualifying system implemented before the next World Cup in 2020.

Krueger has seized on the fact his group has no past and no future. They might as well live in the moment because they only have two or three games left against Team Canada.

“I think the better we do, the lower the chances might be that Team Europe gets invited back,” said Krueger, with a laugh. “That’s a joke. But it’s the opportunity in this that we’ve tapped into.”

In the final, they’ll face obvious challenges with Team Canada’s ridiculous forward depth and world-class goaltending, but the fact they’re being taken seriously will hurt too.

The gameplan will no doubt be centred around trying to play a smart, patient, frustrating style. The only problem is Team Canada doesn’t seem prone to those weaknesses.

“Frustration’s a waste of time so let’s put that aside,” said Babcock. “They’re going to make you work and earn your way. I don’t think anybody gets to a final in anything worth winning and doesn’t expect to have to work to get that done.

“We’ll try to be as workmanlike as we possibly can and go about our business.”

The business of winning.

Riveters Defeat Team Russia 2-1

By National Women’s Hockey League

The New York Riveters hit the ice at their new home Barnabas Health Hockey House on Sunday night for their first pre-season game against Team Russia. After a strong and physical game the Riveters came out on top 2-1.

Sojung Shin, the Riveters’ newest goalie addition from South Korea, quickly adjusted in net, stopping 19 of the 20 shots she faced.

Team Russia was quick and physical, but with physicality from defenders like Kaleigh Fratkin and Milica McMillen and speed in front from Tatiana Rafter and Taylor Holze, the Riveters were able to counteract their strengths.

“Definitely, I am a physical player,” Fratkin noted after the game, “it actually gets you into the game a little more. When someone threw a body on me in my first couple shifts, I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m actually playing hockey,’ you’re not playing pond hockey out there.”

Fratkin, McMillen, and Michelle Picard were standout defensemen on the ice. They were firm on the blue line, physical and in control in all aspects. This, combined with Shin’s standout performance, made scoring tough for Team Russia.

The first goal in the game came early in the first period from rookie Miye D’Oench, assisted by Rebecca Russo. It was a quick and meaningful goal that got the Riveters ahead, not only on the scoreboard, but helped shake the nerves away.

These nerves were no match for Russo, who was all grins after her first NWHL assist, “I think there are always first game jitters. I’m always nervous before any game but once I step foot on the ice for warm ups or the first drop of that puck— the nerves go away.”

The second goal came courtesy of Amanda Kessel with helpers from Fratkin and Bray Ketchum. The beginning of the 3rd had the Riveters up 2-0 and Team Russia was itching for a goal.

Team Russia got their lone goal from former Connecticut Whale forward, Smolentseva Ekaterina.

“The girls did a great job,” Riveters GM and head coach Chad Wiseman said after the game, “We have a great group right now with a lot of talent, a lot of puck-moving defensemen, a lot of speed up front, but they’ve got to come together as a single unit.”

Pride Take Down Team Russia

By Daniel Tamer – National Women’s Hockey League

Coming off a narrow victory against Boston College, the Boston Pride took on the Russian Women’s National Team in a pre-season match up at Warrior Ice Arena Saturday night.

Both teams came out with a nervous energy and were unable to generate much zone time for the first few minutes of the game. 

It wasn’t until 10:49 of the first period when a deke and finish from Meghan Duggan in the slot put the Pride up 1-0.

A crosschecking penalty committed by Kacey Bellamy at 16:31 of the first would allow Team Russia to produce some scoring opportunities. Russia’s power play led to a controversial goal on a rebound, scored by former Connecticut Whale forward Ekaterina Smolentseva, knotting the game at one going into the second.

On an early 2-on-1 rush in the second period, Brianna Decker scored on a pass from Zoe Hickel. Russia would take a penalty right after, leading to another Pride goal scored by Alex Carpenter less than a minute later to put them up 3-1 early in the second.

Halfway through the second, Brittany Ott replaced Lauren Slebodnick in net for the Pride. A few minutes later, a turnover at the blue line by Kacey Bellamy led to a breakaway for Fanuza Katirova, but she was hooked and awarded a penalty shot. Katirova’s backhand attempt was denied by Ott and went wide, as she was unable to make the Pride pay for their mistake.

Just forty seconds into the third a loose puck squirted out to the point and Decker buried her second goal of the game, making it 4-1.

Later on in the period, Kacey Bellamy took her second penalty of the game but upon returning to the action, she was able to pick up the puck on an offensive rush and put one past the Team Russia goaltender to put Boston up 5-1. Both goalies stood tall for the remainder of the period, and when the clock hit triple zeros, the final score was 5-1 in favor of the Pride.

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