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.
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.”