Well ... it's certainly been a long time since the Riveters have been home! In fact, more than a third of the NWHL season has been played! Even though they haven't been in NJ, the Rivs have been kept busy playing on the road. In Week 2, they traveled to Minnesota and split a weekend series against the Whitecaps. The overtime win against the 'Caps on Oct 13 marked the first time the Rivs won against the newest addition to the league. The next three match ups were all against the Pride. Each loss hurt, but the Riveters played very chippy, exciting games, and each match up against the Pride has continued to fuel the rivalry between these two teams. Before finally coming home, the Rivs added a second W when they won against the Whale on a snowy Sunday after Thanksgiving. While the Rivs have yet to face the Beauts, we're getting a good picture how each team in the NWHL is doing, and while their record has the Rivs second to last in the standings, they've definitely been playing with fire. There's still a lot of hockey left to play, and I'm confident the Rivs can move up on the leader board!
Since the Riveters played the Pride and the Whale this weekend (and I was able to attend both) I'm going to try and share general observations of the Riveters' play from both games. However, Saturday's game was far more memorable, and (it being a Riveters home game) far more fun for this Rivs fan. It was truly something else, and each period felt like a different game. Also, can we say Holy Penalties, Batman!?
~ I guess taking penalties is a feature, not a bug, with this year's Rivs? I’d love it if they would try NOT playing a third of the game shorthanded! Although the picture of Packer, Arnold, Cornine, and Morse in the penalty box together during the 3rd period at Saturday's game was hilarious. Also, the fact us fans in the crowd could feel Packer's glare during her entire 10 minute time out is pretty amazing. They did better Sunday with … a mere10 minutes of penalties, instead of whatever Saturday was, but I think a bit of discipline wouldn't hurt!
~ Throw back complaint from last year. Can we please have a rulebook? Saturday's pauses while players and refs discussed calls at length was tedious. As a fan, I had no idea what was going on. We need defined rules. Even if it is an amended NCAA rulebook, make it already! Take the time and publish it. It's well past time.
~ The Riveters defense really let Walther down in the 2nd period on Saturday. They did better Sunday, but they’ve gotta tighten up. Based on the teams who've played the Pride, I would say the Riveters are the most competitive. They can actually break through the Pride, get SOGs, and score. However, the Rivs need to strengthen their defense and not collapse. Once they have one break down, the game gets away from them.
~ The Riveters power play is pretty bad. Like really bad. Worst in the league bad. Please fix it. Please.
~ You know what's creepy? The lack of street lights on the streets surrounding Proskate. I thought I was about to star in a horror film as soon as I turned off the main road.
~ The first 10 minutes on Saturday were amazing!! Excellent possession, numerous chances, and great speed. The Rivs looked good and had the Pride on their heels. More of that!
~ Even when the Riveters were losing, they fought, and kept playing hard. The mental headspace of the team compared to last year is night and day. It's no longer painful to watch them. Also props to Coach Ivo, I heard you coaching/yelling all the way across the ice!
~ Cornine is so fine!! So far she's the Rivs rookie standout this season. 4 goals this weekend alone, including a shortie against Boston! Not an easy feat. Also, the RIT line is really clicking when they're on the ice. It’s hard not to notice them.
~ Demartino held down the fort when she came out in the 3rd on Saturday. I enjoyed seeing her play. She has a very interesting style in net. She's plays very compact, but doesn't stop moving. It's fun to watch. Glad I had a chance to see her play at home, and I hope we get to see a bit more of her this season!
~ Walther bounced back on Sunday. It was good to see her starting against the Whale, and get the win.
~ Even though the physicality of the Riveters may cost them in penalties, it does make for very exciting, and fun games to watch. That's the best part of a small league: it's so easy for rivalries to build and continue through the years. Especially when veteran players meet up. The grudges get passed onto the rookies, and the cycle continues. So I guess have some physicality, but don't let it get out of control. (Which is easier said than done!!)
~ Despite the loss on Saturday, as a fan, it was a really fun game. There was an amazing energy in the building, even at the end of the game when we all knew the Rivs lost, and the crowd chanted "Let's Go Riveters" anyway. There were even a few VIPs spotted in attendance ... Denna Laing, Dani Rylan, and a former governor of NJ, Christie Todd-Whitman. Also, before the game, season ticket holders were invited to line up outside the locker room, make a path to the rink entrance, and fist bump the players as they went onto the ice. While it may not have been a big deal, I really appreciated the invite and opportunity to do that. Thank you!
We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly this weekend, but the Rivs are improving each time they play. I have confidence they'll figure out how to maintain pressure and keep their defense together in order to be more consistent. I'm optimistic they'll do well in Minnesota this coming weekend, I know the 'Caps aren't going to underestimate them after the Rivs split the games during their last trip, so we should be in for some good hockey. Also, I'm excited to see another Whitecaps home game. I love the 'Caps broadcast team! Kelly and Alexis make sure to have lots of interaction with Twitch chat. It should be loads of fun to watch, and hopefully we’ll see kilt man again!
Anyway, excited to see the Rivs keep up the momentum and build on what they have. This season is turning out to be quite a breath of fresh air!
Let's go Rivs!!