On Tuesday, the NWHL announced the signing of Princeton senior Kelsey Koelzer by the New York Riveters. She was selected as the first overall pick by New York in the 2016 NWHL draft. Koelzer becomes the first player to sign an NWHL contract while still an undergraduate student.
Her Princeton season (and NCAA eligibility) came to and end on March 4th after a 4-0 loss to Clarkson in the ECAC Tournament. On Monday, Koelzer reached out to Riveters head coach and general manager Chad Wiseman. By Tuesday, she was at her first practice as as professional hockey player.
“Kelsey reached out [Monday] about next season, and I inquired with the league about bringing her on now with one practice player roster spot essentially available. She met the requirements to be able to join the league with her season being finished,” said Wiseman. Hear more from Wiseman and Koelzer herself in this exclusive edition of TIG Extras:
The Riveters have been without a sixth practice skater since the beginning of the season. RPI alumna Lauren Wash signed with the team on January 12th, but ultimately took the spot of retired alternate captain Morgan Fritz-Ward. No other players were added to New York’s roster until yesterday.
As fate would have it, due to the departure of Fritz-Ward, the Princeton defender has retained her college jersey number. She has been listed as No. 11 on the NWHL website.
While Wiseman and Koelzer will take things day-by-day, one cannot help but imagine what the talent of a top-ten Patty Kazmaier finalist can do for a team looking to topple the undefeated Boston Pride this weekend.
However, chemistry has been key to the success of the second-place Riveters. If Koelzer sees any playing time, she will have to prove that she can master the current systems and add to overall productivity.
Either way, Koelzer is very much interested in a future with New York. Only time will tell how long New York fans have to wait to see Koelzer do this in a Riveters uniform: