The Metropolitan Riveters have already had two players claim honors as the NWHL Player of the Week this season. In week one, it was winger and New York native Miye D’Oench and was followed the next week by RPI alumna Alexa Gruschow. It’s safe to say that the duo has played a big role in the Riveters 2-0-0 start to the 2017-18 season.
Through two games, Gruschow is currently tied for the league lead in goals and is second only to D’Oench in points. It’s still early, but it already looks like she is building off her success last season and embracing a bigger role with the team now that Janine Weber signed with the Boston Pride.
Gruschow’s rookie season was undoubtedly a success, especially for an undrafted player. She centered all-star wingers Rebecca Russo and Madison Packer last year and picked up 10 points in 18 games for the Riveters. On a team filled with talented young forwards, Gruschow managed to stand out. She found a way to produce at even strength and was a huge part of the Riveters success last season, even if she didn’t grab the headlines that some of her linemates and teammates did.
Gruschow is wearing a new number this season, but Riveters fans have had no trouble recognizing the two-way center’s consistent play. Gruschow excels in all three zones, is capable of killing penalties and executing on the power play. Head coach Chad Wiseman trusts her to win big faceoffs in all three zones. Only Kelli Stack and Brianna Decker won more draws than Gruschow did in her rookie season.
This season Gruschow has made an immediate impact skating on a line with D’Oench and veteran Bray Ketchum. And there’s a lot more to that impact than Gruschow getting her first NWHL career two goal game against the Beauts on Saturday.
If Gruschow looks like one of the best centers in the NWHL, it’s because that’s what she is. She’s versatile, strong on her stick and consistent. She’s the kind of player that every coach loves to have in their lineup.
When the Riveters enter the offensive zone with puck control they get more shots off Gruschow’s entries (1.5 shots per entry) than any other player, with D’Oench being a close second (1.43 shots per entry). In other words, when the puck is on Gruschow’s stick in the offensive zone good things are happening for the Riveters. Her exceptional play has been instrumental to the Riveters recovering from the loss of Weber to free agency.
Gruschow and D’Oench are two prime examples of the star power that the NWHL still boasts even with Olympians out of the picture this season. One needs only watch Gruschow tuck the puck home for her first career shorthanded goal to see that there’s still an abundance of skill on the ice in the NWHL.
With so many of the household names in women’s hockey preparing for PyeongChang with their national teams there’s an opportunity for young players to emerge as stars this season. Alexa Gruschow is rapidly becoming one of those new stars.