Today, the NWHL is announcing the scheduled season openers for the Metropolitan Riveters and the Connecticut Whale. That’s right, the first games of the 2019-20 season are officially on the calendar.
On Oct. 5, the Whale will host the Buffalo Beauts at 2:30 p.m. ET at their new home rink at the Danbury Ice Arena. At 4:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Riveters will host the Boston Pride at the ProSkate Ice Arena in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. The season opener for the defending champion Minnesota Whitecaps is not yet known.
In celebration of the IIHF’s World Girl’s Hockey Weekend, both season openers will be proceeded by Try Hockey for Free clinics led by the Junior Rangers Girls’ Hockey program. This new initiative by the Rangers, which was first announced on July 3, aims to grow the game and make it more accessible to girls in the tri-state area.
The Danbury Ice Arena clinic will begin at 11:40 a.m. and the clinic at the ProSkate Ice Arena will kick off at 1:30 p.m. In addition to the clinics preceding the NWHL’s season openers, Junior Rangers Girls’ Hockey is hosting 11 other clinics in the tri-state area where girls between the ages of 11 and 14 are welcome to try hockey for the first time. All participants will bring home a free Rangers hockey stick and will get to meet and interact with a women’s hockey player.
“The New York Rangers are a leader in the advancement of girls’ hockey, and the NWHL is proud to collaborate with them during IIHF World Girls’ Hockey Weekend,” NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said. “When you consider a schedule of 13 free clinics and two professional home openers on one weekend across the New York metropolitan area, that’s an incredible celebration of the players and game we all love.”
This new collaboration between an NHL franchise and the NWHL is big news in and of itself. The Rangers are the wealthiest franchise in NHL. Their influence and reach within the tri-state area could prove to be hugely beneficial to both the Riveters and the Whale. The clinics themselves could also provide a unique opportunities for players on both teams.
Another big takeaway from today’s news is that the Riveters’ home opener will not be played at the Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark. The New Jersey Devils’ practice rink has been the Riveters home rink since the NWHL’s second season. However, the Devils elected to dissolve their partnership with the Riveters in May, leading many to speculate whether or not the team will stay in Newark.
Whether or not ProSkate will be the Riveters’ main home for the 2019-20 season remains to be seen, but this does appear to be the end of the Riveters’ residence in Newark. The ProSkate Ice Arena reportedly has a seating capacity of 1,500; the Devils’ practice rink seated fewer than 800.