The Minnesota Whitecaps have a home rink.
The NWHL’s newest team will play at TRIA Rink, the new, state-of-the-art satellite arena of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. The Whitecaps will open the 2018-19 season at home with a pair of games against the 2018 Isobel Cup Champion Metropolitan Riveters on Oct. 6-7. That weekend series will follow the Riveters preseason exhibition series against SDHL champions Luleå in Sweden.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for both new Whitecap 2018 NWHL Goaltender of the Year Amanda Leveille and 2018 Playoffs MVP Riveters goaltender Katie Fitzgerald. The two netminders played at the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State University, respectively.
The Whitecaps ending up at TRIA Rink is not altogether surprising, given the history the league has with the arena following the success of last season’s sold out All-Star Game. Many saw the Wild’s practice facility as a natural fit for the NWHL’s fifth franchise.
The news was first released yesterday by Rachel Blount at the Star Tribune. “We sold out the All-Star Game, and it was amazing to feel that energy,” league Commissioner Dani Rylan told the Star Tribune. “This is a perfect arena for an NWHL team. It will get loud and passionate, and it’s going to be a hard place for the opposing teams to play.”
It is likely the Whitecaps will play all eight of their home games as weekend home series. In a short season of only 16 games, away games in Minnesota could have a large impact, especially if teams are traveling to Minnesota towards the end of the regular season. It will be interesting to see how the teams approach the weekend.
The two-game weekends are a change from the previous three seasons where teams typically only played one game in a weekend. Last season, there was only one back-to-back weekend. In January, the Pride and the Riveters had a home-and-home series, playing a Saturday night game in Boston before turning around and playing a Sunday day game in Newark.
The Star Tribune is reporting that @WhitecapsHockey will play their home games at the TRIA Rink, the practice facility of the @mnwild. Lots of potential here for a partnership between the two franchises. Great rink for the Whitecaps. #NWHL pic.twitter.com/3PaThb5OvO— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) June 27, 2018
With a capacity of 1,200, it will be the second biggest rink for the upcoming season, based on the rinks we can safely assume teams will be returning to. HarborCenter, the Beauts’ home ice, seats approximately 1,800. Barnabas Health Hockey House can pack in around 700 fans for Riveters home games. Warrior Arena where the Pride have played the last two seasons is about the same. If the Connecticut Whale return to Terry Conners Rink for their home games, they have the ability to hold 2,000, the largest in the group. Including TRIA, four NWHL teams will be playing at NHL practice facilities next season.
It is unclear whether the Whitecaps will also practice at TRIA Rink, according to Blount’s reporting. However, we do know that the league signed a one-year deal with the arena. It also appears that there is real potential for a partnership to develop between the Wild and the Whitecaps.
Season tickets for the Whitecaps’ inaugural NWHL season are on sale now at NWHL.zone. For the first time ever, the league is offering season ticket holder perks, including front-of-the-line access for entry, post-game autograph sessions, private meet-and-greet events, and exclusive discounts on merchandise at the arena.