And They Still Play Today
It’s been a tough couple of days (an understatement) for the NWHL and its players. On Friday, the league announced—without approval of the players’ union—that its players would be taking a pay cut for the remainder of the season. While Dunkin’ Donuts kicked in an additional $50,000 donation to keep the league afloat, the future of the league is suddenly imperiled. There has been some terrific (and not so terrific) reporting on the subject:
- The Ice Garden [Pay Cuts Leave NWHL Players Reeling]
- The Fourth Period [NWHL Hit With Bad News]
- Stanley Cup of Chowder [Tatiana Rafter’s essay on professional survival]
- Puck Daddy’s Jen Neale [pt. 1 and pt. 2]
- FanRag Sport’s Mike Murphy [Riveters’ Madison Packer Speaks Out]
- Kate Cimini for Excelle [Q&A with Madison Packer]/
In other words, go to the game today in New Jersey if you can. Watch online, via Cross Ice Pass, or Cheddar TV (today, for the first time). Players still get 15 percent of their jersey sales (make sure you pick the current official store!). You can still cheer loud:
As @NWHL fans. We give all teams standing ovations when they get on the ice at both games tmrw To let the league know we're with the players— Tom (@tomboypirate) November 19, 2016
Hell, even tweet support for your favorite NWHL players. Or at the very least, wish Anya Battaglino a happy birthday. It’s not an understatement to say the league is at an existential crossroads.
Pride Cometh Before...
They’ve showed why they’re undefeated.
The Pride’s 3-0 shutout of the Whale on Nov. 12 was illustrative; Boston capitalized on the return of Hilary Knight (#KnightWatch), reuniting a potent top line. Connecticut earned chances in spurts—Haley Skarupa tallied eight shots—but failed to generate enough sustained pressure to effectively thwart the Boston defense. Player of the Week Brittany Ott was typically excellent, earning the honors by turning away all 26 Whale shots.
Nicole Stock (26 saves) was typically solid, but the Whale’s loss dropped them into third place behind the Beauts (5 points in six games). The Whale have two games in hand over the Beauts and one over the Pride (5-0) and Riveters (1-3-1).
The Beat Goes On
The upstart Riveters host the Whale at 4:00 on Sunday in Newark.* The Riveters split an exciting weekend series with the Beauts, perhaps coming within inches of eking out a different result.
The Riveters should be without defenseman Kiira Dosdall, recipient of an ugly, suspension-inducing hit from Kelley Steadman. And hey, there’s an outside chance that Amanda Kessel will be back for today’s tilt.
Rivs’ captain Ashley Johnston will be there, though, and will be fighting for more than a W. From Blueshirt Banter:
"This is the place where we want to play. We are all invested in this league. We all want to see it succeed,” Johnston made clear. “The easy thing right now would be for everyone to pack up their bags and go home. But I'm never one to really think that the easy thing is the right thing to do. It's just going to be figuring out next steps and where we go as a team, as a league, as a family from here."
The Whale have responded in kind:
To every fan leaning it to support us... you're making the biggest difference. Spread the word, share our dream, you got us here. #NWHL— Anya Battaglino (@battaglinoa) November 19, 2016
*The Beauts and Pride face off at 3:30. Scheduling two overlapping games is TOTALLY a great way to encourage fan engagement, right?!? * Tosses a chair through a window *
Remember, There’s a Game Today, Right?
Right. (Takes a deep breath).
Haley Skarupa is still the league leader in points (9). Kelly Babstock is tied for second with 7 points.
Ivana Bilic and Cydney Roesler are developing in to a shutdown D-pair.
Dana Trivigno continues to be a smooth-skating two-way center.
We still have a fun goalie carousel to ride. My money is on Shenae Lundberg getting the start for the Whale; coaches love to get players in against their former teams. (Lundberg and Johnston were also teammates at Union College).
And don’t forget, this is always a fun matchup. There’s a rivalry here, dating back to last season. This year, the Whale took the first game, 4-2.
Commiserate, cheer, kvetch, but you can do it here. Join the conversation for today’s game in the comments. It’ll be fun. And there could be GIFs!
[Update, 4:23: After some technical difficulties, here is the stream]: