Devils fans, it certainly has been a great season so far, as they are still in the playoff race. However, there is another local team ready to begin postseason play. That would be the Metropolitan Riveters of the NWHL.
The National Women’s Hockey League as a whole is only three years old and the Riveters have only been playing in New Jersey for the past two. They play right next to the Devils in their practice rink, the Barnabas Health Hockey House.
I have been following the Riveters since they came to New Jersey and it really is a great level of hockey in every way. The regular season has come to an end and the playoffs are set to start this weekend. The Boston Pride will play the Buffalo Beauts on Saturday, Mar. 17th. The Riveters are set to battle the Connecticut Whale on Sunday, Mar. 18th in Newark. The Riveters won the regular season title with a record of 13-3, one game ahead of the Beauts at 12-4. The Pride captured third place with a record of 4-8-4, while the Whale fell to the last spot for the second straight year at 3-11-2.
The Riveters were the best team in the league for a majority of the season. They started out at 11-0, but then three tough losses against the Beauts have made it hard to say it is going to be easy to win the Isobel Cup. Buffalo is currently riding a 10-game winning streak, which propelled them into second place.
The Riveters do have some of the best players in NWHL, including the top five scorers in the league: Alexa Gruschow, Courtney Burke, Madison Packer, Rebecca Russo and Jenny Ryan. Packer actually missed the first four games of the season with an injury, so it just shows the surge she went on to find herself in third. Another Riveters forward, Miye D’Oench missed half the season with an injury from the Team NWHL vs Team USA challenge. She only finished with 13 points in nine games played, but rest assured, she is back and ready to perform once again. Expect her to be an impact player in the playoffs.
Russo is the fan favorite on this team and also excelled greatly in her sophomore season, notching nine goals and eight assists. She is one of the fastest skaters in the league and will be a major contributor to the Riveters success. Gruschow will also be key as she had nine goals and 13 assists in 16 games played this season.
The playoff format is a single elimination between the four teams so it will last two rounds. The championship will be taking place next weekend on either Mar. 24th or 25th. If you are to take only the records into account you may say that the championship will be between the Riveters and Beauts. Although that is most likely, this is still the playoffs and anything can happen on any day. It is just like the NHL playoffs in the sense that you never know who could surprise you. For example, last season the Beauts won the cup as a three seed against the one seed Pride.
Only the Beauts and Pride have made it to the Isobel Cup final in the first two seasons, each winning one. The Riveters are also the only team without a single win in the playoffs. The Whale picked one up in the inaugural season back when they did a best out of three series.
Head on out to the Devils practice rink this Sunday night at 7:00 PM to support the Riveters! Tickets are $20.
When/Where to Watch
Beauts vs. Pride 3/17 5:30 PM @NWHL Twitter and HarborCenter (for our Buffalo area Devils fans)
Riveters vs. Whale 3/18 7:00 PM Barnabas Health Hockey House and @NWHL Twitter