On February 22 the Metropolitan Riveters signed forward Hillary Crowe to a contract for the rest of the 2017-18 NWHL season. The natural connection is that Crowe knows Miye D’Oench and Michelle Picard from their time as teammates at Harvard University, but there was another connection as well. The 25-year-old is from Eden Prairie, Minnesota and attended the NWHL All-Star Game earlier in February in the Twin Cities.
“My former teammates and Chad (Wiseman) initiated the conversation,” Crowe told The Hockey Writers. “Being at the All-Star Game definitely sparked my interest, it was a great weekend of hockey and it definitely excited me about the opportunity.”
“The NWHL was definitely on my radar, but I wouldn’t say it was seriously on my radar,” she added. “But only because I was prioritizing my job search in Minneapolis. Since most teams are located out east it wasn’t in my serious (immediate) consideration. Things are still developing in that process so I thought why not come out here and play in the league (in the meantime).”
Welcome to the NWHL
Her first game in the league on February 25 Crowe was thrown into the mix right away, right in the middle of the Riveters-Buffalo Beauts rivalry that has produced some of the league’s most intense games the past three seasons, including a playoff-thriller last season. “It was definitely a physical game, especially (because of) the rivalry between the Riveters and the Beauts,” Crowe said of her first NWHL game. “There’s a lot of depth (in this league) so everyone is skilled, everyone is playing. The pace is very fast and very physical; you can’t take a shift off.”
Part of the reason that Crowe is here now is due to Miye D’Oench’s high ankle sprain that has sidelined her since mid-January, meaning the two former linemates in college haven’t yet been able to skate together. With the playoffs quickly approaching the Riveters added some depth and size (Crowe is listed at 5’11”) to their forward unit in anticipation of the forthcoming battles and the uncertainty of D’Oench’s return. With each passing week the games are becoming more physical and more intense, and also the four teams are probably a little sick of one another by now!
“She got injured there in the first and I believe they taped her shoulder up so she was struggling physically the rest of the game,” Wiseman said after the 4-3 loss to the Beauts. “She had been skating a bit but once she gets going here – she’s had one practice with us – and gets a quick conditioning stint. We have to get her moving; she has good skill, she’s big, has a good shot, and she has some good hockey sense. I think she’ll help us out in the long run.”
Learn to Fly
After a nasty head-first fall along the side boards early in her first game Crowe would miss the remainder of the first period before returning to play the rest of the game. “It’s a little tender, a little limiting but nothing that’s too serious; I think it will be fine in the long run,” Crowe would say after the game.
The Metropolitan Riveters would like to welcome Hillary Crowe to our lineup. She was a star with @HarvardWHockey and adds to our already strong offense. Fans, welcome number 12, @Hillcrowee! #RepTheRivs💪(photo: Gil Talbot) pic.twitter.com/IzNyb39PzH
— Metropolitan Riveters (@Riveters) February 25, 2018
As Wiseman alluded to Crowe wasn’t playing much recently, so she will have to play some catchup with the others in the league. The Harvard grad played overseas recently and even briefly spent some time with her hometown team – the Minnesota Whitecaps. “I arrived back stateside at the end of November and I practiced a bit with the Whitecaps, but I only played one game.”
With two regular-season games left before the single elimination semifinal, the Riveters are hoping that adding Crowe to their lineup will provide the same results that Buffalo had last season when they added Hayley Scamurra to their group and she put up four points (1g-3a) in two playoff games.
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.