With only five games left in the NWHL regular season players who are considered rookies have become (mostly) accustomed to playing the pro game and are gearing up for the Isobel Cup playoffs, which are quickly approaching. One of those is Metropolitan Riveters forward Cailey Hutchison, who we spoke with just minutes before the league’s All-Star Game in Boston.
In her first season as a pro after four seasons with the University of Maine, Hutchison has ten points (3g-7a) over 19 games and has been a key center for the Rivs in all three zones. Hutchison was a late addition to the All-Star Game, replacing her best friend Brooke Stacey who is in the early stages of pregnancy.
Hutch’s Wild Weekend
Regardless of how the Riveters rookie got there, she’s now an All-Star forever, and the added special meaning of it meant everything to the recently turned 23-year-old. “No, definitely not,” replied Hutchison when asked if she thought this was a possibility last February. “At this point last year, even though I was drafted by the Riveters, I didn’t even know if I would make the team. I’m really speechless to be here this weekend, it’s a great honor.
“Maybe it was a little different than most, as far as my journey to get here. But to represent Brooke and the Riveters here this weekend is something really special and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
Stacey was able to compete in the Skills Competition on the night before the game, so Hutchison watched from the bench, sizing up each competition and how well she would do in each. “Maybe I could do the Accuracy Shooting, but definitely not the Hardest Shot,” she said with a chuckle before admitting that her first choice would be the Fastest Skater because she works a lot with a skating coach.
Maine to NWHL
Another hidden highlight of the weekend for the Rivs rookie was that she was reunited with two other former teammates from the University of Maine: former Riveter and current Whitecaps forward Audra Richards and Beauts goaltender Mariah Fujimagari. “I think it’s pretty cool and special that I’m on the same team with Audra again,” Hutchison said, unable to contain a smile. “When I was a freshman at the University of Maine one of my goals was to play with Audra because she was one of our top forwards.”
She also thinks practicing so often in college against Fujimagari gave her some confidence when shooting against one of the tallest goalies in the NWHL, saying with a laugh that she’d ‘scored five-hole every single time,’ in those sessions.
Riveters Hope to Reign in March
Riveters fans will love hearing that as four of the team’s five remaining games will come against the Beauts in New Jersey, a perfect opportunity to get on a roll heading into the single-elimination playoff games in March’s Isobel Cup Playoffs.
“We had some injuries this season and we’re finally figuring out what lines work well together. For us the goal is to play a full, 60-minute game,” said Hutchison when asked what the team needs to work on over the final five contests. “I feel like we have times where – I feel like the outdoor game against Buffalo was a perfect example, we were up by four goals and they came back to tie it. That was scary. We just have to compete for a full 60 minutes and not let teams get back into games when we have the lead.”
And what’s the number one reason why the Riveters will win the 2020 Isobel Cup?
“Because we have a lot of heart,” Hutchison proclaimed. “Being on a team that has a lot of rookies as we do is special and we have a lot of that youthful energy; I think having that heart and our desire to be the best is going to be a big asset for us when it’s all on the line.”
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.