A lot of NWHL/PHF players were on the move this off-season, which is something I can identify with. Being as how we’re in the same boat I thought it’d be fun series to put together, to see what they’re going through as they prepare for Season 7. Once a week-ish in this space we’ll get the low down on what’s up with a familiar face in a new place. Batting leadoff is defender Rachael Ade, who joins the Metropolitan Riveters blueline after spending parts of three seasons with the Connecticut Whale.
The versatile 26-year-old has registered five points (2g-3a) in 32 regular-season games, has appeared in two playoff games, and lined up for a few games at forward (more on that below). After spending two seasons with the Whale (2017-19), she joined the Tri-State Hub of the PWHPA, before returning to Connecticut as a practice player last season; she appeared in one game under emergency conditions after Covid made its way through the Whale while in Lake Placid. Following her rookie season, she was named one of the recipients of the NWHL Foundation Award.
Ready to Roll with the Rivs
Now, she joins the revamped Riveters defense corps that has only two returners. So what can Rivs’ fans expect to see from the former co-captain at the University of Vermont?
“I’m a puck-moving defender, that’s the biggest part of my game,” replied Ade. “I like to be the one moving the puck, beating that first forechecker while helping to create offense. I like to jump in as that fourth forward on the rush if I can, but playing good defense is always important.”
Like every player ever, Ade has been continuing to fine-tune her game this off-season in preparation for the new challenge that lies ahead of her. “I’d say (PHF/Riveters fans will) probably see the same me, I’ve been playing this sport for a while. I hope to bring all of the things that I’ve been doing well over the years while always looking to improve, develop, and add more skillsets - I’m just continuing to work to get better as we come to the end of the off-season.”
As one of the taller players in the league (5’9” sans skates), Ade often is able to use her size and length to her advantage, and at times she was used on the power play in Connecticut as someone to screen the goalie and create havoc in front of the blue paint. She also corrected me, as I thought she used a lengthy Zdeno Chara-sized stick!
“I actually play with a pretty short stick. I like to keep it in tight and then extend it (to dislodge the puck from an opponent). I’ve played hockey with guys so often, and with them usually being taller you have to let them come in (towards you) a little bit closer so you can reach,” Ade said while laughing. “So I’ve picked that up from those games. I appreciate your observations though, I do like to use my size to my advantage when I can.”
Connecticut and New Jersey (where the Riveters play) aren’t that far apart. So if she wanted to, Ade could still have lived in Connecticut while playing for the Riveters - like captain Madison Packer currently does - but everything worked out peachy for the defender who will be entering her fourth season in the PHF.
“I wanted to play this upcoming season and was keeping my options open. Obviously, it was great to be able to practice and play with the Whale last season - the rink is 15 minutes from my house, so that was an awesome situation and (Head Coach) Colton (Orr) was great about it all,” Ade explained.
Ade-ing the Family
“Everything just kind of fell into place. My youngest sister (18-years-old) Rebekah found a team (Ironbound) she connected with to play for in Newark, New Jersey for a season or two. At that point, I wasn’t sure where I would end up living or playing. I put some feelers out, eventually, Coach Ivo (Mocek) reached out to me and we had a really great conversation,” she said.
“By the end of it, I was like if you can offer me something to play here I’ll make it work. We came to an agreement and now I’m here, living with my younger sister and we’re both playing hockey in New Jersey. All the pieces really just fell into place for me.”
Having just finished dropping off 19-year-old sister Raquel to college, Rachael herself just moved and will be a ‘pseudo mom’ for Rebekah while the two of them live and play hockey together in New Jersey this upcoming season.
She also confirmed that she will be wearing her familiar no. 7 this season and that she is looking forward to meeting her new teammates, many of whom she has only played against as an opponent. Her first game with the Rivs? Of course, it’s scheduled to be against her old mates with the Whale on opening weekend (Nov. 6-7).
“Any time you come from another team you’ll play against some friends you know. So it’s always fun to say hi, or get into some fun battles on the ice,” added Ade with a smile. “I’m definitely looking forward to it, and the whole season in general; but especially that, yeah.”