After losing 8-1 to the Boston Pride in Monday’s rescheduled game, the Metropolitan Riveters appear no closer to making the corrections needed to contend for a second consecutive NWHL Isobel Cup.
The home team fell to 3-11-0 on the season yesterday and again had a new netminder between the pipes. After a one-sided trade with the Connecticut Whale (future considerations have yet to be exercised) on January 2, the Riveters acquired Russian netminder Mariya Sorokina. She was added to the trio of Katie Fitzgerald, Kimberly Sass, and Sarah Bryant who all re-signed after the 2018 championship campaign.
Since then, the only goaltender to get consecutive starts has been Sorokina. She collected a 6-3 win over her former team in her first professional start on January 6. The 23-year-old was then run out of net by the Buffalo Beauts after 26 minutes (according to the box score) on January 12.
2018 Isobel Cup MVP Katie Fitzgerald backstopped the Riveters in a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Beauts on February 2 ahead of the 2019 NWHL All-Star Break. She did not dress tonight against Boston. For a team in desperate need of a win in its final two games, it appears the Riveters are still solidifying a starting goalie.
Before the game, head coach Randy Velischek mentioned he used a merit system with his goaltenders, saying Kimberly Sass got the win, so she got the start Monday afternoon against the Boston Pride.
The last Riveters win was credited to Mariya Sorokina on January 6. Sass recorded a 4-3 overtime win against the Connecticut Whale on November 25, 2018, but did not get the next start on December 4 in Pittsburgh.
After the game, members of the media caught up with Velisheck to inquire about goaltending, leadership, and more. The full transcript of the February 18 postgame interview can be found below.
Note: Media member Dan Rice asked the closing question. Also, trying a new trick with my transcription service, so forgive any errors in the box below.
Erica L. Ayala: Coach a little bit a tough outing for the Riveters today. You know had a few changes in goal. How do you think [Kimberly] Sass and [Mariya] Sorokina were able to kind of hold up against the pressure of the Pride?
Randy Velischek: You know what. I’ll never ever blame the goalies and certainly not going to start this afternoon. It’s certainly not their fault. We didn’t show up to play in the first 10 minutes and we were down 3 nothing. We’re outshot 8-2 or 7-2 and outchance. We made some mental mistakes and if you make mental mistakes and physical mistakes, both of them, they add up to opportunities for the other team. So 3-0 is tough to come back from. From that point on we outshot them from the latter part of the first into the second we outshot them 13-to-5 and of those 13 shots were eight of them were scoring opportunities. They were breakaways and 2-0 and open wide open. All I can say is it’s not the goaltending. Somebody to score a goal, simple as that.
: I really thought and I spoke to Paul Mara who’s [the Pride] coach, I’ve known him a long time. We both had said the same thing and you know that the score is not indicative of what this game was. The wheels fell off, we took a bad penalty of too many men on the ice and that sort of that was our death knell. But then of the day it’s not the goalies somebody needs to put the puck in the net and that’s that’s gonna be that’s a team effort. It’s not on one individual but everybody is everybody in our locker room needs to look at themselves and other anybody else and want to find a way to put a puck and. That’s it.
Erica L. Ayala: Coach along with that I would imagine that you would hope that your captains and some other leaders would step up you know with now I guess it’s only two games left in the season. You know you’re going to the playoffs but it’s just a matter of what you’re going to be in the playoffs.
Randy Velischek: Touché. We all know that it’s a one game playoff and whoever it’s going to be against – I suspect it’s gonna be against Connecticut either in their barn or in ours – we all know that we need to dig deep. I really felt like if you look at the feeling in the locker room today and also on the bench there wasn’t weren’t a lot of hung hands. Nobody was pointing fingers. That’s what of trying to get away from right now because when you’re losing it’s really easy to look at the person next to you.
: And really I’m impressed with that this group is that the captains are doing a really good job. Even if you’re not a captain. Amanda Kessel and all the veterans that haven’t been down that road they haven’t you know maybe that they don’t have an “A” on their sweater or a “C” they’ve been really good about focusing on the positives. And it’s tough to look at the positives on an 8-1 score. But you know what. We outshot them, we outchanced them and with a couple of breaks it’s a different hockey game. That’s all you can do.
Erica L. Ayala: And so for you coach, do you think that there’s still some buttons that you need to press to kind of get some of that motivation that you’re talking about as far as changing things up with lines or approaching practices different?
Randy Velischek: Erica you know what it is it’s not actually it’s not the personnel. It really isn’t. It’s not the roster. This roster is as good as any in the league on any given night. Our [defense] in my mind are the six best D in the league, hands down. We need to do a better job at times not making mental mistakes staying out of the penalty box. We took a penalty today and it was it was the most important one of the game. It was 3-0 and despite this change that the whole momentum of the game we took it to many men on them [laughs] because somebody wasn’t paying attention so I mean I’ll take ownership of that because I’m the coach. But at the end of the day, we need to just … this is not [about] execution. This is all about not making mental mistakes. It’s about hopefully capitalizing on chances and keeping our practices the same where they are which are upbeat. We need to get to get players in front of the net. We don’t do a very good job of that. We don’t block a lot of shots.Those are two things that we could probably address between now and the end. And we will.
Dan Rice: Dan Rice: What went into the decision to not dress Katie Fitzgerald today. First time in her career she’s never dressed for a game.
Randy Velischek: We’re on a three man rotation right now and honestly we’ve let the goalies know when this trade was effectuated a couple of months ago or so whenever it was that we would that we would play with three. And I’m not sure if we’re gonna stay with that, but basically it is a you win your play and you lose and unfortunately because we have three that are legitimate starters you, end up in the stands. That’s really was a function, they were all made aware. That was really, it was not that was not predicated on anything beyond that. And that’s something to be honest with right now that might be revisited as to how we’re going to approach the rest of the season as to who will play from here on in because we need we need a hot goaltender.