The NWHL’s inaugural season is underway and there are a myriad of great stories up and down the rosters of the four teams. From Brooke Ammerman of the New York Riveters to Erin Zach of the Buffalo Beauts, they all have great, inspiring stories, and each one will be remembered as a pioneer. Included among the 88 women who are a part of this historic first season is Janine Weber of the Riveters, who was the first player that ever signed a contract in the league.
Weber is by far one of the most talented athletes from Austria — and she is a winner too — with two championships in the EWHL and one in the CWHL already under her belt. In 83 games in the EWHL she put up a mind-blowing 182 points (!!!) and then came to the United States and played one year at Providence College as a graduate student where, oh by the way she netted her first college goal in overtime, to win the Mayor’s Cup against Brown University.
When she was a young girl in Austria there was no such thing as women’s hockey, and now as a young woman in New York City she is part of laying the groundwork for what has all of the ingredients of a successful enterprise that will allow for so many female hockey players to have their dreams come true also. The day she signed her contract she was quoted as saying, “I think it shows girls overseas that it doesn’t matter where you come from and how popular women’s hockey is in your home country. By working hard, you can make your dreams come true.”
Hearing those (and other quotes) from Weber and other NWHL members reminds us of a song lyric from the Smashing Pumpkins:
The impossible is possible tonight.
Through the first three games Weber is still searching for her first point of the season, and the Riveters are still searching for their first victory, but her ten shots on goal is good for third on the team. You can bet that when she does score it’ll likely be something dramatic like during overtime of a 0-0 game or something similar. With the NWHL season on a brief hiatus during the Four Nations Cup, Weber was nice enough to answer some questions from The Hockey Writers via email about her path to the NWHL and her feelings about being a part of something so historic.
Bet you didn’t know Janine is an excellent orange juggler, did you?
The Hockey Writers: Last season you scored the Clarkson Cup winning goal for the Boston Blades in the CWHL; is that the highlight of your career so far?
Janine Weber: That’s definitely one of the highlights of my career. Coming to the US to play college hockey was always a dream of mine and I think if I hadn’t pursued that dream I wouldn’t be where I am now, so that was definitely another highlight.
THW: The stick that you used to score that goal is now in the Hockey Hall of Fame; how cool is that? And have you been to the Hall to see it on display?
JW: It felt pretty surreal when they asked for my stick to put in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I haven’t been there since but I went there with a few of my teammates the day before the Clarkson Cup, and it was very interesting to see the equipment and everything else they had on display.
THW: Earlier this year you were in training camp with the Connecticut Whale, but you signed with the New York Riveters. How come you didn’t sign with the Whale?
JW: I went to the Connecticut training camp because I was free that weekend and a few of my friends went there too. I didn’t really have a preference as to where to play I just really wanted to be a part of the NWHL, and after talking to Dani (Rylan) I thought that New York would be a great fit.
THW: When you signed with New York you were the first player to sign with the team and in the league; that has to be a pretty neat feeling to be a part of something historic like that, yes?
JW: I think everyone who is playing in the NWHL or working for the league in its inaugural season is excited to be a part of history. It will be very cool to look back in many years and tell our kids and grandchildren about it.
THW: What has the experience been like for you living in NYC so far?
JW: I had been to NYC many times before moving here but nothing compares to actually living here. There are so many things to do and see and I have been working on trying as many different restaurants as possible. It is also an amazing place to people watch and I have been really enjoying that.
THW: You’re from Austria, and came to the United States to play college hockey with Providence. The first person I thought of was a fellow Austrian — NHLer Thomas Vanek; do you know him at all? Was his career path in any way an influence for you?
JW: I don’t know Thomas Vanek personally, but I met him at a hockey camp many years ago when he just started playing for the Buffalo Sabres and I remember him signing everyone’s shirts. He was one of the first Austrians ever to play in the NHL and he was the first one to be a real star on his team so naturally every hockey player in Austria looked up to him.
Follow Janine Weber on Twitter: @j9weber15
Dan Rice can be reached via Twitter: @DRdiabloTHW or via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.