NWHL hockey is back, and back with a bang as over 2,000 fans were in attendance (a NWHL record) to watch the newly named Metropolitan Riveters take on the Boston Pride in the first ever NWHL game to be held in an NHL arena. Meanwhile, the defending champions, the Buffalo Beauts, traveled to the Connecticut Whale’s new home in Stamford to start their campaign.
Boston Pride 1 – 4 Metropolitan Riveters
Buffalo Beauts 3 – 2 Connecticut Whale
3rd Star – Harrison Browne (Metropolitan Riveters, 1G 1A)
After the news that Browne was retiring after lifting the Isobel Trophy with the Beauts last year, everyone was glad with the news that he would come out of retirement to play for the Rivs this year. Browne’s persistent ‘never say die’ attitude makes him perfect for the power kill and he didn’t disappoint on Saturday as he scored the first goal of the 2017/18 NWHL season, and a shorthanded one at that! This goal sums up exactly the kind of player that the Rivs have gained in this signing, which I predict could be crucial in their campaign this year.
— W Sports Highlights (@WSportHilites) October 28, 2017
2nd Star – Hayley Scamurra (Buffalo Beauts, 1G)
Scamurra joined the Beauts for the playoffs last season and notched 3 assists to help them lift the Isobel Trophy for the first time. This time the 10th overall pick is back for a full season and is already making an impact on the scoresheet. She bombarded, league debutant, Sydney Rossman with 10 shots on net, one of which got past the Whale goalie. This goal would turn out to be the game winning goal that meant the Beauts edged the Whale to start the season with a win.
1st Star – Katie Fitzgerald (Metropolitan Riveters, 30 Saves)
Fitzgerald took the opportunity of playing at the Prudential Centre to showcase her incredible skills to the 2,000+fans in attendance. Having won goalie of the year last season, she showed no signs of slowing up, putting up a 0.968 save percentage to start the year. The Boston Pride are still considered by many by far the most skilled team in the league, despite losing so much talent due to Olympic centralisation, and so getting any points against them could be crucial and #BrickWallFitzy certainly helped her team achieve the full two in this year’s season opener.
Despite not getting the W, Sydney Rossman made an impressive league debut with a 34 save performance against a well-oiled Buffalo side.
There were plenty of other debuts this year as the rookies took to the ice with Grace Klienbach (CW), Saarah Shureb (BB) and Taylor Accursi (BB) all scoring goals in their first NWHL games.
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) October 28, 2017
The Whale trailed 3-0 with just 6 minutes left and managed to get 2 back to make it 3-2. However, despite a strong comeback they couldn’t get the tying goal that they needed.
Not So Honourable Mentions:
Brittany Ott will not want to watch that first goal again as her mistake gifted Browne with a chance at a goal, which he gladly took to put his team up 1-0.
The Whale spent 16 minutes on the power kill after giving up 8 penalties through the game, one of which Buffalo converted on. They were also 0 for 3 on the power play themselves, potentially suggesting that their special teams may continue to struggle this season.
The Boston Pride have now lost back to back regular season games (carrying on from last season) for only the second time in franchise history.
With the first games now done and dusted, the Metropolitan Riveters look like the team to beat. They will travel to Rochester to take on Buffalo in the first of the leagues games at neutral rinks this year. The Rochester locals will be in for a treat as the two undefeated teams face off against each other. Meanwhile Boston and Connecticut will be both looking to get their first win of the season. Boston will be hoping to prove themselves after their 4-1 defeat, meanwhile the Whale have a solid platform to build on, but they really need to convert this into points in the overall standings.
We’re coming for ya Rochester! #DefendTheCrown
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) October 29, 2017