Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up-to-date on Buffalo and Boston’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and the Riveters. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
On May 28 the Metropolitan Riveters announced that they had agreed to terms with the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NWHL Draft, forward Cailey Hutchison from the University of Maine. Hutchison becomes only the third (Kelsey Koelzer, Jenny Ryan) of 20 players drafted by the Riveters since 2015 to actually sign with the franchise. She is also the second draft pick from the 2018 Draft to sign for the upcoming season (Jenna Rheault). In 127 games with the Black Bears the forward from Hicksville, New York put up 20 points (10g-10a) and as an alternate captain set a career-high in her senior season with ten points (5g-5a) in 32 games.
After completing her collegiate career the 22-year-old had joined the Rivs in late February and practiced twice a week with the team but she never appeared in a game. “We saw in those workouts that Cailey is a tough and aggressive player with a strong work ethic and positive attitude,” said Riveters GM Kate Whitman Annis, who was the team’s assistant coach last season. “I’m really happy to have her signed for her rookie season as a Riveter.”
Living a Dream
As noted in the league’s press release, Hutchison signed her first pro contract while attending a cousin’s wedding in Tennessee. “Signing my first NWHL contract is a surreal experience,” she said. “I remember when the NWHL first started and I learned there was a team in the New York area. Ever since 2015, it was my goal to play for the Riveters, and I can’t believe that day is finally here. For me, the best part about the NWHL is being with such elite level athletes and molding the future of women’s hockey together.”
She also mentioned that getting a taste of how the pros practice at the end of last season gives her some great insight into how she should train this offseason. “That opportunity gave me an edge to find out what I need to work towards this summer so I could be the most successful in my first pro season.”
“This summer I will be working on my speed and making quicker puck decisions. The game is fast and having that speed, and being able to make elite plays quickly is what you need to excel at this level,” added Hutchison.
Built Riveter Tough
Over the course of their four-year history, the Riveters have never been a team that would get pushed around, rather one that will play with physicality and skill at a high level and they have had many epic battles on the ice each season – mostly with their biggest rivals, the Buffalo Beauts. With Madison Packer and Hutchison under contract thus far it appears the Rivs will not stray far from that identity.
“I’m a fearless power forward,” Hutchison said describing her game. “When I’m at my best I annoy the other team and force them to play into my game plan. I excel on the penalty kill through my quick read on plays and forcing the puck. I’m relentless on the backcheck and I love getting in the dirty areas. I’m a player that prides herself on covering all 200 feet.”
“I have a lot of passion for the game and it shows in everything I do,” she added. “I care for my teammates and would do anything for them on and off the ice, and this is something I can’t wait to bring to the Riveters this season.”
Last season the Riveters struggled to score, especially from below the circles but listening to Hutchison describe her game should make their fan base excited about how this upcoming season could play out. With her and Packer as power forwards causing havoc in front of opposing creases they may see an uptick in penalties drawn and greasy, deflection goals.
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.