The second season of the NWHL is almost upon us, with camps set to open this week and the real games begin on the first weekend in October in Buffalo. For a league that has yet to secure a deal to air its games on television regularly, the best way to keep up with all of the players and events occurring is via social media channels and watching the games streamed over the internet. A lot of the players have been very active on social media channels, as the women know they must do their part to help grow the game, spread the message of the NWHL and it’s a great way for the fans to interact with and get to know these dynamic personalities.
This guide will help you to follow and get to know some of the great women of the Founding Four teams. The New York Riveters had a rocky inaugural season, finishing in last place among the four teams before being swept in the opening round of the playoffs by the eventual Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride. They were competitive most nights thanks to strong goalie play from Nana Fujimoto and Jenny Scrivens, often falling just short in games due to lack of scoring punch and were also part of the first trade in league history when they acquired goaltender Chelsea Laden from the Connecticut Whale for netminder Shenae Lundberg.
This upcoming season the Riveters roster will look a bit different than last season with the additions of a pair of former Golden Gophers – Amanda Kessel and Milica McMillen, a pair of former Whale players – Kaleigh Fratkin and Jaimie Leonoff, and a pair of players that earned contracts after impressive showings at the first NWHL Free Agent Camp – Rebecca Russo and Alexa Gruschow. Only eight players from last season’s team return – and two of those are on the practice squad. Coach Chad Wiseman was given the GM role after last season and was aggressive this summer in rebuilding the Rives, starting with acquiring an all-world talent in Kessel.
New York Riveters
— Metropolitan Riveters (@Riveters) August 15, 2016
After playing their inaugural season in Brooklyn, New York at the Aviator Sports Center, the Riveters will now play their home games at the Barnabas Health Hockey House (@NJDHockeyHouse) in Newark, New Jersey, which is attached to the Prudential Center and is also the practice rink for the New Jersey Devils.
Courtney Burke (@courtyy6 on Twitter) signed with the Riveters this offseason after a stellar career with Wisconsin. The Albany-native was originally drafted fourth overall by the Buffalo Beauts.
— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerWHockey) May 5, 2016
Miye D’Oench (@Me_yay_doench on Twitter) was signed by the Riveters after they traded for her rights with Boston, who had selected the Harvard grad 15th overall in the 2015 NWHL Draft.
— Miye D'Oench (@Me_yay_doench) June 19, 2016
Kiira Dosdall (@KDosdall on Twitter) is back for season two with the Riveters after really excelling at the tail end of last season. Her presence at both ends of the ice (and shootout!) was a bright spot in a rough season for New York.
Gabie Figueroa (@GabieFigueroa on Twitter) the only New Jersey native on the team will be a practice player this season after the Princeton-grad played in every game for the inaugural Riveters squad.
— Gabriella Figueroa (@GabieFigueroa) January 10, 2016
— Gabriella Figueroa (@GabieFigueroa) October 20, 2015
Katie Fitzgerald (@kfitzy94 on Twitter) although it hasn’t been officially reported by the league as of press time, all signs indicate that Fitzgerald has signed with the Riveters with another goaltender (Shin) having possible visa issues.
— St. Cloud State WHockey (@SCSUHUSKIES_WHK) August 26, 2016
Kaleigh Fratkin (@fratkin13 on Twitter) joined the Riveters on the first day of free agency. Buffalo’s Megan Bozek may have the league’s hardest shot, but Fratkin led all blueliners in points in the first NWHL season.
— NWHL Statistics (@NWHLStats) August 17, 2016
— Kaleigh Fratkin (@fratkin13) June 21, 2016
Morgan Fritz-Ward (@fritz_ward on Twitter) rejoins the Riveters after the Iowa-native played a solid two-way game last season – and the fan favorite of the first players to sign this offseason.
— Metropolitan Riveters (@Riveters) April 6, 2016
Alexa Gruschow (@AlexaGruschow on Twitter) is an RPI grad from Pennsylvania (Mechanicsburg) and was signed by the Riveters this summer after performing well at the first free agent camp that was held in New Jersey.
— NWHL (@NWHL) June 20, 2016
Taylor Holze (@taytwofour on Twitter) joins the Riveters as a practice player – with blazing speed – after her season was cut short last year due to an injury sustained after falling through an open bench door.
— Taylor Holze (@taytwofour) November 17, 2015
Ashley Johnston (@strettyit on Twitter) returns for her second season with the Riveters as captain. The 24-year-old Union College grad brings a cannon from the blueline and is one of the taller players on the team at 6’0”.
— Stretch (@strettyit) July 29, 2016
Amanda Kessel (@AmandaKessel8 on Twitter) gives the Rivs what they sorely lacked last season – a star, and an impact player who can score goals. She’s also a US Olympian, which is another aspect the Riveters were without, the only of the four teams without one. Her decision to sign with them was easily the biggest move in the league during the offseason.
— Amanda Kessel (@AmandaKessel28) June 13, 2016
— Bray Ketchum Peel (@bdk27) August 15, 2016
— Bray Ketchum Peel (@bdk27) October 8, 2015
Jaimie Leonoff (@jaimieleonoff on Twitter) signed with the Riveters after a fantastic inaugural campaign with the Whale: 10 games played, 7-3-0, 2.96 GAA, .936 save %. But she only has one career tweet.
Milica McMillen (@mamcmillen73 on Twitter) joins the Riveters after finishing her college career at Minnesota with two National Titles and as the fourth-highest scoring defender in program history. She’s a pretty fun follow on Twitter and even took over the Rivs account during the Olympics; highly recommended follow.
— Milica McMillen (@MeatzMcMillen) August 20, 2016
— Dan Rice (@DRdiabloTHW) June 30, 2016
Madison Packer (@madison_packer_ on Twitter) like Fritz-Ward was signed at the opening of free agency and is part of the core that Wiseman appears to be building around. After missing a few games due to injury, she could be a big contributor this season with a different dynamic of players on the roster.
— Metropolitan Riveters (@Riveters) August 2, 2016
— Excelle Sports (@ExcelleSports) June 28, 2016
Michelle Picard (@shellfish20 on Twitter) drafted sixth overall by Connecticut in 2015 her rights were traded to the Rivs and it gives the team a total of two US Olympians (Kessel) after they had zero last season.
So honored and grateful for the opportunity to play in the @NWHL this season! Thank you @NYRiveters for welcoming me to the family!
— Michelle Picard (@shellfish20) June 20, 2016
— NWHL (@NWHL) June 14, 2016
Tatiana Rafter (@tatianarafter on Twitter) was the last player in the NWHL to sign this offseason and joins the Riveters after spending the inaugural season in Buffalo. She has done some writing for THW and Stanley Cup of Chowder.
— Tatiana Rafter (@tatianarafter) March 10, 2016
— Tatiana Rafter (@tatianarafter) August 5, 2016
Rebecca Russo (@russooo18 on Twitter) signed with the Riveters after impressing Wiseman at the first NWHL Free Agent camp this offseason in New Jersey in Early June. She had 89 points in 144 games while at Boston University.
📷: Carolyn Bick/BU News pic.twitter.com/9ObsEuR4Ov
— NWHL (@NWHL) June 29, 2016
— Rebecca Russo (@russooo18) August 12, 2016
Sojung Shin (@golri31 on Twitter) signed in late July to be the backup goalie, she may have work visa issues but the league, nor the team have made any announcements regarding it.
— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) August 27, 2016
— NWHL (@NWHL) July 28, 2016
Janine Weber (@j9weber15 on Twitter) returns for year two with the Riveters after playing in all of their games last season. With a better supporting cast, we expect her numbers to skyrocket in year two. She was the first ever player to sign in the NWHL.
— Janine Weber (@j9weber15) October 30, 2015
— Metropolitan Riveters (@Riveters) December 30, 2015
Sarah Bryant, Julia Herr and Rebecca Morse were also added as practice players but at this time we are not sure if they have Twitter accounts yet.
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.