Today, Kelly Nash and Rebecca “Moose” Morse both re-signed with the defending Isobel Cup Champions Metropolitan Riveters. In a way it’s fitting that Nash and Morse signed on the same day because they were both key depth forwards for the Riveters last season. Their return is all the more noteworthy because of Harrison Browne’s retirement and Tatiana Rafter decision to take her talents to the CWHL.
But calling Nash a depth forward doesn’t really do her or her game justice. She made a big first impression by piling up five points in her first three NWHL games. In her second week of NWHL action, Nash was named the NWHL’s Player of the Week thanks to a two primary point, six shot game against the Beauts. A few months later the 28-year-old “rookie” scored a goal in the Isobel Cup Playoffs against the Connecticut Whale. She was also on the ice when the Riveters defeated the Beauts in the Isobel Cup Final.
Last season when Nash wasn’t busy providing the Riveters’ offense with a spark, she was behind the bench at Princeton University where she’s an assistant coach. One might imagine that an Isobel Cup victory and the undeniable proof that she still had “it” might have been all the reason she needed to hang up her skates. But coach Nash isn’t done playing just yet.
“Honestly, I’d say I made the decision in the last month or so of last season,” Nash told The Ice Garden. “I think, in the middle of the season, I was definitely back-and-forth because it was a challenge with coaching at Princeton. We always play Friday, Saturday and practice Monday through Thursday. The Riveters games that I could make were always on Sunday, so there wasn’t a lot of down time during the hockey season. But that home stretch definitely got me hooked to come back for another year.”
Before signing with the Riveters last season, Nash had spent over six years away from the game, playing most recently in Austria on a team with current Riveters teammate Kiira Dosdall. After that she spent four years as an assistant coach at the University of Vermont before moving to her current position at Princeton. The California-native started on rollerblades at age seven, but she’s been in and around skating rinks since she made the shift to ice hockey at age 12.
Nash will be back behind the bench in Princeton next season. However, that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to get into the lineup for more games in her second year of NWHL hockey.
“I’m definitely going to have to wait and see how the schedules line up, but I talked to Chad [Wiseman] a little bit about how many games we’ll have on Sundays and things like that,” Nash explained. “I’d love be able to make more games — obviously it’s up to the coach whether I dress or not — but I was lucky enough last year to play in the games that I was able to make. If I can make some more games this year, I definitely hope to be in the lineup more!”
It’s hard to say where Nash will fit into next season’s lineup because she is just one of three Riveters who has re-signed with the team for the 2018-19 season. With that being said, she has all the tools necessary to play either on the power play unit or on an energy line. She’s immensely crafty and, like every good coach, she processes the game at a high level.
Nash’s successful return to the game last year is undeniable proof that women are nowhere near their peak during their collegiate careers. She believes that she’s a better player now than she ever was at Wisconsin. The only question now is: will she find yet another level in her game next season?