Line-change strategy the focus for Raiders

ON THE REBOUND: Riverdale’s Leann Denich takes a shot on Oakwood goalie Maggie Prince during varsity girls Tier 2 South Region hockey action.

4-0 loss to Oakwood reveals gaps in  on-ice performance

Learning to do line changes efficiently could be the extra boost Riverdale needs to skate past its opponents.

As witnessed in their season opener against Oakwood CI, Nov. 30, the young squad has the depth to pull off a coup in South Region Tier 2 hockey, but first it must get used to the cycles in ice-time.

“First game of the season, we’re a little bit rusty and we really haven’t practised our lines,” Raiders coach John Fallis said. “That was a problem I think today.

“We’ve only had a couple of practices, and they were tryouts, not practices, so the girls weren’t used to working together.”

He’s looking to leaders Emma Gandy and Ariel Plytas to keep the team speeding ahead, but after a 4-0 loss to the Barons, it’ll take strong puck control for their next two tilts against Monarch Park.

“Plus Oakwood is a good team,” he said. “Even though it’s Tier 2, it’s still pretty competitive.

“Hopefully we’ll get better with a few practices and hopefully we’ll be better for the next one.”

Oakwood`s bench boss, Lisa Palozzi, said she is enthused by the shutout for rep goalie Maggie Prince, and the turnout of players this season is promising, considering the school`s more traditional sports of rugby and basketball.

“I’m really proud of our numbers this year,” she said. “We’ve got a really big team, and it’s good to see that at a non-traditional hockey school.”

Along with Prince, fellow rep player Claire Russell will provide a strong anchoring to the blueline, and when needed the speedy and sizeable defender will offer the one-up for an offensive attack as seen against Riverdale.

Still, it was Nichole Walter who notched the first marker late in the first period. Sitting on the goalie`s doorstep like Phil Esposito, Walter popped in Meredith O’Brien’s pass via Melanie Tardivo.

In the second period, O’Brien would get another assist on Monica Hammond’s marker.

Working the give-and-go in the third period, O’Brien would pick up a third helper on Zora Vaz’s goal. Kaitie Douglas would also pick up the second assist.

Finally, in the closing part of the third, with Riverdale pressuring deep in Oakwood’s zone, a turnover would lead to a Barons rush, where O’Brien would get her own deposit in the mesh bank thanks to Douglas.

Palozzi said strong play to prevent goals will help the Barons in 2011-12.

“That’s where our strength lies, defensively,” she said. “And I think we won the game by changing our lines.

“Riverdale has a good team, they had four lines and they can’t really get into the flow of the game,” she added. “Offensively there are some things we need to work, but defensively I think we’re strong.”

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