There are just two games left in the NWHL regular season and they both take place at 3 p.m. today. This season may have seemed like a long, hard road for Riveters fans and surely the team as well. But while they constantly took a few steps forward then a few steps back, it has been a season of many small victories for the Metropolitan team. That’s what they are looking for here today.
The Riveters will face the Buffalo Beauts who are currently on a 7-game win streak, however only need to get one point from the game to be considered for home ice advantage in the ‘wild card’ game next week.
The other half of the equation comes in the form of the Connecticut Whale losing to the Minnesota Whitecaps in regulation. The Whale haven’t beaten them all season, nor have they beaten any other team besides the Riveters.
Short story, if the Riveters can take the Beauts to OT, and we assume the Whale will not win, the Rivs can celebrate a small victory in getting to host the wild card game and get to take on the Whale next week for a shot into the playoffs.
Head coach Randy Velischek has stated that Katie Fitzgerald will start in goal, despite his previous comments of circulating goalies based on their win performance. Considering there isn’t much of a win performance this season, this decision only makes sense.
A player to note is newcomer, Cailey Hutchison, who signed with the Riveters on a PTO this week. Though she will not be dressing for the game today, she has been practicing with the team and would be eligible to play in the ‘wild card’ game against Connecticut.
Hutchison was the Rivs’ fifth round draft pick from the 2019 draft. Because the NWHL draft happens mid-season, current college seniors who are picked are eligible to join the league as soon as their collegiate seasons are over.
Hutchison had ten points in her final season with the Black Bears before being suspended, along with three of her teammates for violating the student-athlete code of conduct thus sitting for the final regular season game against University of Vermont that would have sent them to the playoffs, had they won.
The forward out of University of Maine will join her former teammate, Audra Richards, who represented the Riveters at the NWHL All-Star Game and makes a case for rookie of the year. Hopefully joining them together can spark some momentum to propel the Riveters to a win, or at least overtime.
Because the Riveters have roster space, Hutchison is expected to be added to the team without cutting anyone else. Koelzer and Kessel are expected to make a comeback today as they both were notably missing from last week’s game against the Beauts.
Being that the Riveters haven’t beaten Buffalo at all this season, and have been outscored by a margin of 12-4, I don’t have high hopes for a Metropolitan win today. However, if we root for the small victory, who knows what can happen going forward. The playoffs are a completely different ball game, and just maybe the reigning Isobel Cup champions can prevail.
I predict (hope for) a OT loss to the Beauts, 3-2. Crazier things have happened. This game will be the NWHL Twitter game of the week and can be streamed via the NWHL Twitter at 3 p.m.