After a tough late-game loss to the Boston Pride last weekend, the Metropolitan Riveters are looking to wipe the slate clean and make something happen in their first series of the season. The big problem? They are trying to do so against the reigning championship team who is just as deadly as the Pride, the Minnesota Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps will raise their championship banner before the game at TRIA rink, and I would anticipate them selling out as they did every single home game last season. This game is also considered in the Whitecaps’ partnership with the Wild as a ‘double-header’ feature.
“The Whitecaps’ event precedes the home opener of the Minnesota Wild against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild will host a Pregame Party from 3-6:30 p.m. in Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul. Minnesota’s two professional hockey teams are aligned, as the Wild provides far-ranging support of the NWHL team,” an NWHL press release stated.
‘Caps Stacked Lineup
We haven’t seen the Whitecaps in action yet this season but just looking at the roster, they’ve got a lot to be afraid of. The big news this offseason was Riveters all-star forward Audra Richards making the move to her home state to play for the Whitecaps. The only player with a hat trick last year, and the leading goal scorer for the Rivs, Richards was dominant for us and there’s no doubt she will be just as dominant against us.
Returning goaltender Amanda Leveille posted a .923 save percentage last season, and only lost four games. She will be tough to beat but unlike Selander, at least the Riveters can say they’ve gotten to her before.
The Whitecaps have a handful of dangerous returning players like Jonna Curtis, Allie Thunstrom, and Allie Morse. While the Riveters will have their hands full with those players, someone to keep an eye on will be rookie Nicole Schammel. The 23-year-old out of the University of Minnesota is going to add massive depth to the Whitecaps’ roster, as she led the Gophers in points her senior year.
Players to Watch
Kate Leary: Leary is a Boston College alum who played two seasons for the CWHL’s Boston Blades after graduating. The Blades didn’t have much success while she was on the team but a spot on a team like the Riveters is exactly what she needs to have a breakout professional season. I anticipate her being in the box score after this weekend.
Madison Packer: With an almost-goal in last weekend’s matchup, and NWHL all-time leading goal scorer Jillian Dempsey pulling ahead of her in goals, Packer is definitely looking to score and with experience against Leveille, she should notch that 30th goal.
Kendall Cornine: Cornine will probably always be in my ‘players to watch’ tab because she will just always have her hands on the puck at any given moment during the game. She claimed 17 shots on goal during the Riveters preseason game against LIU and already leads the team in scoring percentage. If you were betting, bet on her to score.
Something that was overlooked last weekend was the Riveters lineup. They were playing an extremely offensive team with five defenders. Kiira Dosdall and Kate Leary are slated to join the team soon which will add a lot more breathing room for the team who won’t be operating with 14 players dressed. The lineup will definitely be shuffled around a lot now that head coach, Ivo Mocek, has seen the team play together a lot more.
I would expect players like Leary and Packer to show up with a vengeance, both having a lot to prove along with Cornine, who is always a strong presence on the ice. Still, I think in the tough venue of TRIA Rink, the Whitecaps will take this the first one 4-3, and Sunday’s matchup 3-2.
The first game will be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel at 1:00 pm on Saturday and the second game will be streamed at 3:00 pm on Sunday.