Four Riveters Chasing Olympic Victory
Olympic women’s hockey is in full swing and the NWHL’s Metropolitan Riveters franchise is well represented as they have alums on four of the women’s hockey national teams playing in the tournament. Amanda Kessel, the well known Team USA forward played in the ’16-17 season and Ludmila Belyakova, is a forward for the Olympic Athletes from Russia who was on the first Riveters ’15-16 squad out in Brooklyn. Also, goaltenders Nana Fujimoto of Japan, and Sojung Shin of Team Korea both guarded the Rivs net in year one, and year two respectively.
The popular and impressively skilled national team player drew major publicity to the league with her signing prior to the NWHL’s second season. Though an injury would limit her action to only 8 games, she scored 4 goals and put up 14 assists! The elite player instantly brightened fans spirits after a rough ’15-16 campaign. She is perhaps the only member of the four Riveter Olympians who could return to the team though anything is possible. In some of her first action with the then New York team she picked up this power play goal vs. Team Russia:
The new NWHL had generated a great deal of excitement and the additions of international players like Belyakova created even more buzz. The swift Team Russia player was quickly recognized for her skill with the puck. On a Riveters team that struggled to win many games, and had a disjointed offensive attack, Belyakova still put up 5 goals and 5 assists in 15 games. She was not offered a place on any NWHL squad the following year but remains interested in a potential comeback and has continued to follow league developments. In the past two years she has returned with the rest of Team Russia to face her old team in exhibition play. When not on the national team she plays in Russia’s Women’s Hockey League for HC Tornado in Moscow. This video from her time in New York shows her attacking the opposing net hard:
Like Belyakova, Fujimoto’s signing in year one was a huge deal for the league. The Team Japan goaltender had been discovered by fans for her great play at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and was an instant fan favorite. She played in 16 games picking up all 4 of the Riveters wins that season as well as 8 losses while posting a 3.14 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. Here she is seen stopping a breakaway by Whale star Kelly Babstock:
When Shin joined the new look Riveters in year two, she was originally thought to be backing up Jaimie Leonoff, but Leonoff was unable to take the ice for New York, and Shin soon was the starter. She would give away to Katie Fitzgerald as the season went on. Shin played in 4 games posting 1 win, 2 losses, and one shoot out loss. She had a 3.20 goals against average and a .898 save percentage in her limited service. This year she was in net for Team Korea in the exhibition against the Connecticut Whale and acquitted herself well for a then South Korean team that is still growing a great deal. Here she is seen stopping fellow Olympian Brianna Decker in a shootout: