Rackleff Saves 42 as Blades fall to Shenzhen 3-0

The Blades fell to the Vanke Rays by a score of 3-0 as they returned from a long December road trip. The Rays held on to a single-goal lead, making most of the game a tight contest. They managed to separate late however, as Jetta Rackleff saved 42 of 45 shots on net.

Pregame

The Worcester Blades hosted the annual Coworker Day as well as toy drive, playing in front of a large crowd of Blades’ family, friends and coworkers.

Jetta Rackleff made her 7th start of the season for the Blades after coming in to relieve Lauren Dahm in game 2 against Marhkam on December 16th. She made 29 saves on 30 shots faced in just under 30 minutes of play.

For the Vanke Rays, Noora Raty made her 11th start after coming off a loss against Montreal on December 14th. The 2018 CWHL Goalie of the Year is 3-7 on the season.

First Period

The first shot of the game came just under two minutes in off a 2-on-1 opportunity for Casey Goldberg, but Raty made the save.

A close chance for the Rays came at 3:14 as they managed a flurry of shots on Rackleff. She came out of the crease, but was able to find the puck and stop the play.

A 2-on-1 opportunity for the Rays came at 5:30, but the shot by Xin Fang was defended well by the Blades.

A minute later, Rackleff made a nice save on Cayley Mercer’s slapshot from the slot.

Erin Kickham found herself in the box at 7:56 for tripping, creating the first penalty kill scenario for Worcester.

Vanke managed one shot during the powerplay, as the Blades kept the Rays’ opportunities to the perimeter.

At 12:07 the Rays took the 1-0 lead as Lum Leah hit a turnaround shot off a rebound in the low slot. Minghui Kong earned the assist.

Just 30 seconds later, the Blades were called for too many players on the ice, as Courtney Turner served the penalty. The second powerplay for Rays saw multiple chances down low, but Rackleff stopped each one.

The Blades were again called for a team penalty as they were hit with a delay of game, served by Kickham at 15:25.

The fourth penalty of the period called on the Blades came at 19:34 as Turner was caught tripping.

Rackleff made a save off the mask with just 20 seconds remaining in the period. Most of the penalty was killed as the period ended, the remaining 34 seconds rolled over to the 2nd period.

The first period ended with the Rays up 1-0. Shots on goal for Vanke were 24, and just 1 for Worcester.

Second Period

Eager to cut into the shots on goal deficit, the Blades generated a 2-on-1 opportunity just 1 minute in. However, Raty turned the shot aside.

Another scoring chance came at 2:20 as Morgan Turner came in on a breakaway. However, Raty remained strong and made the pad save to preserve the one-goal lead.

A third chance for the Blades came at 3:40 as Nicole Anderson came in on an angle but her shot missed high.

Vanke soon generated their own opportunities, as Rackleff was forced to make a strong save off of a slapshot from the dot seven minutes in. A minute-thirty later, Rackleff made another save on the doorstep to keep it a one-goal game.

The next few few minutes saw both teams trading back and forth zone rushes and neutral zone turnovers.

Vanke generated a 4-on-2 opportunity at 14:40, but Rackleff made the save; her glove just glancing the puck enough to divert it away.

Less than five mintues later, Rackleff stopped a 3-on-2 opportunity for the Rays.

At 18:05, Stephanie Anderson received a high sticking call, giving Worcester their first powerplay of the game.

The period ended with only a few seconds remaining on the Blades 5-on-4 opportunity, as a few chances came, but couldn’t beat Raty.

At the end of two periods of play, the Rays still lead 1-0. Shots on goal for Vanke were 10 in the period, totaling 34, and 8 for Worcester, totaling 9. After a first period dominated by Shenzhen, the Blades managed to even up zone time and scoring opportunities, keeping it just a one-goal game.

Third Period

A strong chance for Carpenter came in the first minute of the period with the backdoor open, but the Blades’ defense made the clear.

Another opportunity for the Rays came two minutes in as Hanna Bunton came in 1-on-0, but Rackleff made the pad save.

The Blades’ second powerplay of the game came at 3:01, as Zhixin Liu took a tripping call.

Just seconds after the Rays killed the penalty, Rackleff made a solid doorstep save on Mercer.

At 5:54, Carpenter made it 2-0 as she deked a defender and took the puck to the crease, beating Rackleff stick side.

Just a few minutes later, the score became 3-0 as Jessica Wong scored. Mercer forced a turnover at the faceoff dot and passed to the slot from behind the net, where Wong slammed it home. Mercer and Bunton tallied the assists.

The remainder of the 3rd period saw little change and few opportunities for either team as Vanke played conservatively to protect their three-goal lead.

Nicole Anderson had a close chance to score late in the period off of a breakaway but wasn’t able to find the puck to put a solid shot on net.

With just over three minutes remaining, Liu received an interference penalty. This gave the Blades’ a last chance powerplay. It then became a 5-on-3 for 1:02 as the Rays took a penalty for delay of game with just over two minutes left.

However, the Blades only managed a couple shots on net during the extended advantage, failing to find the twine as the final seconds wound down.

The final score: 3-0 Shenzhen. The shots on goal for the Rays were 11 in the third, totaling 45, and 6 for the Blades, totaling 15.

Three Stars

1st Star – Alex Carpenter, Rays forward

2nd Star – Jetta Rackleff, Blades goaltender

3rd Star – Noora Raty, Rays goaltender

Post Game

After the game, Jetta Rackleff spoke about playing at home again after a long road trip and in front of a large crowd.

“It was awesome being back home. Since it was also Coworker day, it was kind of fun to look up during the game and see quite a lot of people coming out to support us,” she explained. “It was exciting, if you make a save or have a good opportunity, its awesome to hear the roar of the crowd, it really gets you going.”

Rackleff also talked about her strong effort in net, and what the team needs to do against the Rays in game 2.

“I was just trying to stick to game plan, cover up all rebounds. To give the girls a chance to win every single day, you do whatever it takes to keep the puck out of the net. The girls did a great job of blocking shots especially on the [penalty kill],” Rackleff stated.

“All three periods we just have to make sure we’re physical, playing the body, don’t give them any space. If we just execute the game plan, and if everyone buys in, it definitely worked for us the first two periods, we just need to make sure we’re staying consistent.”

Rackleff also mentioned her highlight of the holidays.

“I have a sad but funny story actually, my grandmother passed away and she gave me her ring, and one thing she told me was that she’ll have a front row seat to every game,” she recalled. “But 24 hours before she passed away, she was in a hospital bed, making it go up and down and my mom asked ‘Can I help you? Do you need something’ and she says ‘No! I just wanted to make the bed go up and down, its kind of fun!’ So it was great to see her at 95 still in great spirits, less than 24 hours before.”

Next Game

The Blades and Rays will play game two of their three-game series this afternoon, Sunday January 6 at 2:00 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].