4-12 Regular Season.
Good news, Rivs Nation! Our season continues!
After the shootout win against Buffalo on Sunday, the Rivs came into Thursday's game with a lot of momentum. With the coaching situation finally settling down, the Riveters are at a point where they can develop their game. However, with no time left, they needed to play their best hockey of the season. In fact, they had no choice but to win this game. One, they needed to win in order to continue in the playoffs. Two, they needed to win in order to really get comfortable with each other again, and get used to playing good, winning hockey. As we all know, it's been a tough season, but a bright moment was the win in their last match up against the Whale in January. Even though that game was a dominant victory for the Rivs, it's safe to say this play in game wasn't ever going to be as easy. No team wants their season to end, and we knew the Whale were going to put up one hell of a fight. Both teams were going to do everything in their power to stay alive, so we were ready for anything to happen.
~ I got really, really ticked off Thursday night, and it had nothing to do with the on ice play, but with the Riveters front office and game day management. Please communicate basic game day information to fans! It's season four, you should know what to do by now. Extra security was in effect at the Hockey House on Thursday, and therefore all outside food and drinks were not allowed. An official announcement a few hours before the game would have saved everyone a lot of time and money before we had to throw everything out at the door. I also found out during the game that tickets could have been purchased for HALF OFF the day of the game. Would have loved to have known that before buying my ticket Sunday night when STH's got a chance to buy them early, at full price. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU TREAT SEASON TICKET HOLDERS. Don't even get me started on all the e-mails where STHs are promised certain perks, or buy a higher tier season ticket for better seats, only to not have management follow through. Start responding to your email. People shouldn’t have to shame you on twitter to MAYBE get basic questions answered. Start treating your fans better, and stop taking advantage of your Riveters Season Ticket Holders. It seems you only like us as guaranteed revenue, without following through on promises or offering anything in return. We don't like feeling like suckers, especially when we’re already losing money on the deal. Also, don't let the player/fan meet and greet at the end of each game make up for your mistakes. The players have enough jobs without doing yours too.
~ I truly do wonder how the Rivs would have done in the regular season standings if they had a competent coach brought in earlier. The Champions Cup game was such a promising beginning, especially with a shortened bench! While there may be an alternate universe where a coaching change happened well before the playoffs, and the Rivs had a more favorable first round matchup, we're not in it. For now, I'm happy the Rivs finally strung together two wins in a row, and got their first regulation win at home this season! However, I can't help but wonder.
~ Really would have liked to see special teams take advantage of power play opportunities on Thursday. Granted, the second wasn't the greatest period of hockey for any players involved on either team. However, the Riveters need to stay disciplined and stop taking dumb penalties. What's the point of a power play if you're going to get called for a penalty twenty seconds into it to even up the skaters? The Rivs cannot make these mistakes on Sunday. They need to play their game, and focus on breaking through the Whitecaps speed. Also, watch too many players on the ice! This was the second game in a row the Rivs have been called for that on a power play, and the Whitecaps will be all over these unforced errors. Tsk tsk.
~ The lines for the most part stayed unchanged! Everyone looked great again. In fact, I would say they were even more comfortable than on Sunday. Morse was a great fill in for Nash, she fit right in with the 3rd line. It's so refreshing to see every line clicking again. This team really has a lot of depth. It's nice to see that on display again. Keep it up!
~ The Whale made the Riveters work hard. I think it was exactly the type of game the Rivs needed to play to get mentally ready for tougher teams in the playoffs. While period one was pretty even on paper, with two goals apiece for each team, I would say the Rivs had the better scoring opportunities. There was actual play making, and some really nice passing between line mates. However, the Whale absolutely took advantage whenever the Riveters gave them an opening. Period Two tested the Riveters patience and penalty kill. However, I would recommend trying not to let things get so chippy. While some of this falls on the refs, the Rivs need to realize when things are getting out of control, and not let the other teams bait them into unnecessary retaliation. Period three was when the Rivs finally were able to stay disciplined and break through. They took control of the game, and kept pushing. Once the Rivs got the go-ahead goal, they kept the Whale on their heels, and solidified the win with two additional goals.
~ Mrázová. Sorry Rivs, she gets a shout out for that beautiful goal in the first period. Also, doing everything in her power to get something going whenever she was on the ice all game long. Any time she had the puck, Rivs fans were clutching the edge of our seats. I really hope she comes back for season 5. I would love to see her play more.
While there are a lot of things I want to talk about when it comes to the league (player salaries, an actual rule book, suspensions, how many games are played a season, fan experience, coordinating, game day planning, etc.) I think there needs to be some serious self reflection done by the league in the off season in regards to how they can do everything better, because it's far from perfect. The NWHL can't keep acting like there's nothing wrong, or not have a plan ready when problems arise. As I’ve said before, amateur hour is over. It’s one thing not to have everything figured out, it’s another to take no steps in four years to improve. Some of the most glaring oversights would be quick, easy fixes, and would buy the league a lot of good will.
It's time to get, and dedicate people to working the administrative end. Perhaps have a staff dedicated to each team to deal with the day to day, so the league can continue to make business ties. We're not asking for all the bells and whistles, but transparency and actually following through on promises would be a good start. (At the very least, stop promising things you’re not sure you can deliver!) I know there are resources available and people willing to assist. Don't be too proud to seek help. Asking questions and improving based on suggestions will only make the league stronger. And for god's sake be better to your season ticket holders.
Now back to the team...
No ifs, ands, or buts, Sunday is going to be one tough game for the Riveters. The Whitecaps are a deep team, they are super fast, and they have walls in net. And the Rivs will be Rollin’…right off the plane and onto the ice. However, the Rivs can do it if they play their game, and avoid the penalty box. Mentally, I think the Rivs are in a good place. In the past week, we've heard several players say it’s like "they're new team" and I actually believe them. This team is mentally refreshed, and I'm so happy they're no longer playing depressed, frustrated hockey. If they stick to their game, and everyone puts in 110%, anything is possible. Most importantly, no matter what happens in Minnesota, as a fan I am so happy to see the team smiling again. This has always been about them, first and foremost.
However, let's not forget the Rivs have spoiled top seeded teams before. I think they have it in them to do it again. Rest assured us fans will be cheering the Riveters on each step of the way.
Keep it up Rivs, make us proud!