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2021 NWHL Season: Day 3 Preview

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The Six are hunting for their first win and the Rivs and Whitecaps look to remain undefeated

Michelle Jay

The first weekend of NWHL hockey in Lake Placid has come and gone. We’ve seen 120 minutes — or a little more in some cases — of each team, and that’s proven to be more than enough for us to have more storylines than we can keep up with. Isn’t hockey great?

Tonight marks the first night of three consecutive doubleheaders before we can all catch our breath again on Friday. Next weekend will feature two more tripleheaders, but tonight the focus is on the four teams that all have something to prove.

Riveters vs. Whitecaps | 5:30 p.m. ET

  • WATCH: twitch.tv/nwhl

How great is it that the first game after that thrilling weekend is between the only two teams that are undefeated? The last time these two teams met was the 2020 Isobel Cup Semifinal, a game that Minnesota won 1–0 thanks to a goal scored by Allie Thunstrom in overtime. We’re pretty sure the Riveters’ veterans remember that one.

The Rivs bested the Toronto Six 3–0 on Saturday and held on to beat the Whale 4-3 on Sunday — both wins came in regulation, which means they are atop the standings. The Whitecaps upset the Pride 2–1 on Saturday and then rallied on Sunday after trailing the Six 5–1 to win in the shootout. If you missed it, you missed an absolute classic.

Although both teams are 2–0–0 to start the bubble they were also outshot in both of their previous games, which means they’ve asked their goaltenders to do a lot of heavy lifting.

There are also a few big stars who are still searching for their first points in Lake Placid. Riveters captain Madison Packer and 2019–20 co-MVP Thunstrom will both be looking to get in the box score tonight. Three players who have had no issue picking up points are Audra Richards and Nina Rodgers of the Whitecaps and Leila Kilduff of the Riveters. Together, they share the league lead in scoring (3) with Kaleigh Fratkin and Christina Putigna of the Pride.

Another storyline to keep an eye on is the Riveters’ discipline and penalty kill. Believe it or not, the Riveters are tied (with the Pride) for the least amount of penalties taken and are a perfect six for six on the kill. Minnesota is twofor nine on the power play. The player to watch on the Whitecaps’ advantage is Sydney Baldwin. Per InStat, she’s averaged 28:24 TOI/GP thus far. So, she’ll also be a player to watch for about half of the game tonight.

Pride vs. Six | 8:30 p.m. ET

  • WATCH: twitch.tv/nwhl

When will the Toronto Six win their first game? The longer we ask that question, the more potential it has to become a distraction for the Six’s young roster.

The good news for Toronto is that they looked very much like the offensive powerhouse many thought they were going to be on Sunday against the Whitecaps. Mikyla Grant-Mentis and Breanne Wilson-Bennett look dynamic, Shiann Darkangelo is winning draws and creating space for her teammates, and Lindsay Eastwood has gained everyone’s attention after scoring the first goal in Six franchise history. What a cannon.

The Six have a difficult task ahead of them with the Pride. Boston was all business against the Beauts on Sunday after losing to the Whitecaps on Saturday. After a tightly contested first period, the Pride’s depth and merciless pace took over the game while the Beauts filled the penalty box. Any doubts about the quality of the Pride squad in Lake Placid have vanished after Sunday’s definitive 5–1 win.

Like so many hockey games, this one will likely come down to goaltending. We expect to see Lovisa Selander back in the crease for Boston across from Elaine Chuli of the Six. Chuli looked really strong on Saturday, and Selander holds more single-season records than she knows what to do with. It should be a good one.

Let’s drop the puck.