Fujimagari saves 69 of 73 as Shenzhen completes sweep of Blades

The Blades faced Kimberley Newell on Wednesday as the Rays completed the three-game sweep in Worcester. Mariah Fujimagari made 69 saves on 73 shots. She’s faced a team-high 372 shots on the season, saving 326.

Pregame

Fujimagari last played in game two of the series against the Rays, coming in to relieve Jetta Rackleff during the third period. She stopped 17 of 19 shots that frame. 

For the Rays, Newell started after last playing against Montreal on December 15 in a 6-3 loss. She came into the game 4-2-0 on the season with a 2.09 GAA.

First Period

The first scoring chance of the game came only twenty seconds in, as Cayley Mercer generated one for the Rays early. She came streaking down the wing and put a shot on net from the dot Fujimagari made the stop.

The Blades had their own early chance as they whacked a couple shots on net two minutes in, but the chance Newell covered them up.

Jessica Wong put a strong shot from dot on net at 3:22 but Fujimagari flashed the glove to make the save.

A minute later, Wong sent another shot towards Fujimagari; this time she was there with the kick save. Just seconds later, the Rays had a close backdoor try, but the Blades prevented a clean attempt.

Vanke generated some zone time around six minutes in, but their chances were defended well by Worcester.

The Blades had a scoring chance of their own at 9:42 as Meghan Grieves went in on a 1-on-0 but the shot didn’t go through Newell.

The next few minutes saw periods of zone time for the Rays, but no serious chances as the Blades broke up passing attempts and blocked shots.

That was until 13:28, when the Rays broke through to make it 1-0. Alex Carpenter hit the doorstep shot to beat Fujimagari on a pass by Jue from down low. Bunton also earned an assist on the score.

The Blades, eager to tie up the score, cycled the puck in the zone well during the 15 minute mark. However, they couldn’t put many quality shots on net as Newell held strong.

At 16 minutes in, Fujimgari made strong saves on Wong and Rebecca Llanes, who each had their own close up chance.

Fujimagari continued to hold on strong, maintaining the one-goal deficit through the remainder of the period. She stopped a shot by Stephanie Anderson with two minutes remaining and one by Bunton with 32 seconds left.

After the end of the first period, the score was 1-0 Rays. Vanke led in shots on goal with 24, and 8 for Worcester.

Second Period

The second frame started a bit slower than the first, as no scoring chances came until two minutes in. Fujimagari was forced to make a blocker save to keep the Rays’ lead at one.

A flurry of chances for the Rays came a minute later as they put multiple shots on Fujimagari, but were unable to beat her.

Hannah Miller earned a holding call at 5:02, providing the first Blades’ powerplay opportunity of the game.

The Rays managed to keep the Blades from generating many chances. However, Megan Myers did put a strong shot on Newell with just 12 seconds left in the advantage.

Another close chance for Myers came at 9:30 as a scramble in front of net saw the puck batted mid-air, but wide of Newell.

The Blades cycled in the offensive zone at the 11 minute mark but weren’t able to get any clean shots on net.

Fujimagari took  a tripping penalty at 11:38, which gave the Rays their first powerplay opportunity. Courtney Turner served the two-minute minor.

The Blades were able to kill the penalty; however, the Rays did come close to breaking through towards the end of the advantage. Mercer brought puck to net and Fujimagari made the block. She also stopped the rebound second-chance shot from Wong.

At sixteen minutes in, Fujimagari made another save, this time on the doorstep from Minghui Kong.

At 17:06, it became 2-0 Rays as Bunton tipped a shot from point. Standing in front of the crease, the redirect was too much to adjust for and beat Fujimagari. Wong and Mercer both earned assists.

Grieves attempted to cut into the deficit as she put a shot on net with two minutes left. However, Newell gloved her low angle try.

Another chance for the Blades to score came with 1:14 remaining, as Rebecca Fleming came in on a 2 on 1. However, her strong slapshot was save by Newell to maintain the two-goal lead.

After the end of two period, the Rays led 2-0. Shots on goal for the period were 24 for Vanke, totaling 48, and 12 for Worcester, totaling 20.

Third Period

An early chance for the Blades came early in the third at 1:30. Grieves looked for the cross-crease pass and put it on net, but Newell prevented the score.

Mercer and Madison Woo countered with their own chances a minute later, but Fujimagari prevented them each.

At 4:28, Baiwai Yu took an interference penalty to give the Blades their second powerplay opportunity. They threw a couple shots on net during the advantage, but Newell covered them up.

At 6:50 it became 3-0 Rays as Emma Woods scored. Fujimagari pushed across the crease to make the save, but the shot glanced off her glove into the net. Carpenter and Mercer assisted on the goal.

Natalie Anderson went in on a breakaway just seconds after the goal was scored, but Newell prevented her from finding twine.

A third powerplay opportunity for the Blades came at 7:26 as Jue took a tripping call However, the advantage went by without a shot on net for Worcester as the Rays prevented the Blades from entering the zone cleanly.

The Rays went up 4-0 at 13:15, as a shot deflected off the post then off Carpenter and into the net past Fujimagari. Qinan Zhao and Bunton assisted on the goal.

The Blades came close to getting on the board 15 minutes in, as they sent a flurry of chances on Newell. However, Stathopolous couldn’t find the backdoor pass to bury it.

Mercer tried to add a fifth tally for her team as she put a shot on net from the slot with three minutes remaining, but Fujimagari made the blocker save.

Woods and Xin Fang both put shots on net in the final minutes, but Fujimagari made identical shoulder saves to prevent any more goals against.

The Final Score: 4-0 Rays. Shots on goal in the period were 25 for Vanke, totalling 73, and 13 for Worcester, totaling 33.

Three Stars

First Star – Alex Carpenter, Shenzhen forward

Second Star – Hanna Bunton, Shenzhen forward

Third Star – Mariah Fujimagari, Worcester goaltender

Post Game

Lauren Williams spoke after the game about representing the Blades in the upcoming CWHL All-Star Game in Toronto.

“I think the environment is going to be really cool. I’m excited to see how the league is growing the game, and the atmosphere that they’re going to bring with such a big weekend,” She expressed. “Being around all the big name players is going to be exciting.”

She related there wasn’t anyone in particular she’s looking forward to playing with.

“I’m just really excited about the whole thing, it’s going to be a really great experience. It’ll be nice to have my family up there, as it’s close to home, too.”

Lastly, she talked about how she and her team will spend their time off between now and their next game against Markham, which won’t be until the first weekend in February.

“Not a lot of resting, as we definitely try to get to the gym a lot. We come here for open ice and do skill sessions, and we’ll be on the ice as a team too,” She explained. “We’re planning some get-togethers as a team, just so we can bond a little bit more and stay together. Everyone has jobs, so it’s kind of tough, but we do what we can. We use the time well, is the best way I can put it.”

Next Game

The Blades next face the Markham Thunder for their final series of the season on Saturday, February 2 at 8:00 p.m. at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. Tickets are available here as well as at the door.

Be sure to follow the Blades on Twitter to follow the games and stay up to date with the CWHL season.

Zach Bamberger is a Communications Intern for the Worcester Blades. All media requests and inquiries should be sent to Merisa Boyd, Director of Communications, at [email protected].