A lot has changed for the NWHL this offseason. This is something you’ll be sure to hear me say a lot. But, among all of those things one positive change is the length of schedule.
Despite being in the same timeframe – of early October to early March – the league has packed a lot more games into that same period. Most games are played in series and there isn’t a three-week break in December like there has been in previous years. We are also unaware of the All-Star Game dates, but I would assume there will be less of a break for that as well. While all the games are still played on Saturdays and Sundays, there are a lot more evening or night start times. This presumably makes it easier for a lot of fans to watch.
The new schedule has all teams playing 24 games instead of 16, adding four home and four away games. This means a lot more hockey in the same time frame. This also means a lot to get excited about if you’re an NWHL fan. As for the Riveters, the schedule is looking difficult or at the very least unbalanced.
The Riveters start their season on October 5th against the Boston Pride in their new home rink. After that, the schedule gets treacherous. Following their one game at home with Boston, the Riveters won’t be home again until December 7th. Then not again until January 4th.
The first three months of the season will essentially be a long road trip for the Rivs. After an uncharacteristically bad season, the Riveters have their eyes set on the Isobel Cup and there’s nothing in their way. That would be except maybe an incredibly tough road schedule.
On the bright side, the end of their season is spent mostly at home. That way if they do dig themselves in a hole early they have that to look forward to. However, I’m sure they would rather have momentum on their side in the beginning.
Last Half Looks Up
After a 10-3 win against Long Island University in their preseason opener, the Riveters are hoping to take that momentum to New Jersey and come out swingings against the Pride. However, the Pride is a team everyone should come to fear this season. The Riveters start their season with four games against Boston and two against the Minnesota Whitecaps. In making roster comparisons, it would be easy to see the Riveters start a dismal 0-6. Those are easily the two most talented teams in the league.
However, if the Riveters run on anything, it’s heart. This team is known to dig deep for all they’ve got when it counts the most. Given they are starting with these two teams, it is the time for it.
Another downside to this schedule is that the Riveters won’t get a look at the Buffalo Beauts until December 28th. They will also be meeting them for an outdoor game later on. The Beauts are a team I suspect will battle it out with the Rivs for a third-place spot in the standings. So to not even play them until the end of December might leave the Rivs unprepared.
On the flip side, it might leave them in a position to make some big moves later in the season if they can dominate Buffalo. This will also be the first outdoor game ever played in the NWHL, which may come with some complications of its own.
Rounding it off, the Riveters have five meetings with the Connecticut Whale sprinkled throughout the season. I would love to count on those as wins, but in this league, you never know. With the way ever team’s lineups have been so severely flipped, the Whale has a chance to climb the rankings and finally have a shot at the Cup. It will be, however, a longer road for them than the Riveters.
My optimistic prediction is that the Riveters will land in third place. They should be able to sneak their way out of a wild card game like they had to play last year. However, I wouldn’t anticipate them being able to beat both the Pride and Whitecaps for the Isobel Cup. What I know for sure is that it will be a fun, entertaining NWHL season with a lot more hockey to watch.