That’s right Metropolitan Riveters fans — she’s back. Reigning NWHL MVP Alexa Gruschow has signed on for her third season with the defending Isobel Cup champions.
Back in 2016-17 Gruschow was an unheralded center from RPI who quickly gained recognition for her exceptional two-way play. She finished her rookie season with 10 points in 18 games and played a vital role in the Riveters’ transformation from last-place team to Isobel Cup contender.
Gruschow followed that rookie campaign with one of the most impressive seasons in the NWHL’s brief history. Last season she scored nine goals and picked up 13 assists in 16 games for the Riveters. She was an All-Star and became the first player not named Brianna Decker to be voted as the league’s MVP by her peers.
As if her outstanding performance in the regular season wasn’t enough, Gruschow scored the lone goal of the 2018 Isobel Cup Final. She was, in a word, incredible. And now, the 24-year old is back and ready to do whatever she can to help her team build off of last year’s success.
“I am hoping to continue to contribute to my team in any way that I can,” Gruschow shared in the league’s press release. “I seemed to have a different role between my first and second season, and I am ready to take on whatever my role may be for my third season, whether it changes or stays the same. We could not have asked for a better ending to our season last year, and I am confident that the Rivs will carry that success into this upcoming season. My biggest goal is to do what I can to help our team reach its highest potential.”
Given her style of play and work ethic, it’s unsurprising to hear Gruschow put the team’s performance this year over her own. When she wasn’t piling up points last season she was winning faceoffs, killing penalties, battling along the boards, and backchecking with a purpose. She may be a humble MVP, but make no mistake, she’s one of the league’s brightest young stars.
With Gruschow back in the fold, the defending Isobel Cup Champions have a strong group of forwards heading into the 2018-19 season — even with Bray Ketchum recently announcing her retirement. Although Erika Lawler’s future with the team is still up in the air, the Riveters have an impressive top six in Gruschow, Amanda Kessel, Madison Packer, Miye D’Oench, Rebecca Russo, and free-agent signing Kristin Lewicki.
Gruschow is the 20th player to sign with the Riveters for the 2018-19 season, which means that the team still has five potential roster spots left to fill.
But Riveters fans aren’t as curious about who will be filling those final roster spots as they are about who will be coaching the team.
It has been 170 days since Chad Wiseman coached the team to the NWHL title and the Riveters are the only NWHL team without a head coach as of the writing of this article.
They will play their first game of the year against Luleå Hockey/MSSK on Sept. 29 in the inaugural Champions Cup. The clock is ticking.
Fortunately for whoever the Riveters’ next coach will be, the defending Isobel Cup Champions have a team full of leaders, stars, and young veterans like Gruschow who know how to win.
All that’s left now is finding the last few pieces of the puzzle.