The Riveters season opener will be free streamed on YouTube today at 1:30 PM EST. When the puck drops in Stamford, Connecticut the NWHL's historic inaugural season will officially begin. The league's first game was sold out over a week ago, but because the NWHL's streaming service, The Cross-Ice Pass, will be free to fans throughout the season we'll be able to catch this game and all other NWHL games on our computer monitors, phones, and tablets.
Interview with Gabie Figueroa
New Jersey native Gabie Figueroa is a tireless worker and perhaps the best skater on the Riveters. Let's get to know her a little bit better!
Keep an eye out for Nana Fujimoto and Lyudmila Belyakova this afternoon. The Riveters had the international stars join their training camp late, but Fujimoto was able to make an appearance in the club's second preseason game against the Minnesota Whitecaps. Belyakova has been training with the Riveters for nearly a week now and has at least two practices with the team under her belt.
We're expecting at least 17 of the 18 contract players to dress for this afternoon's game, but right now it is unclear whether or not the Riveters will dress all three goaltenders or substitute in a player from their practice roster. Details about the starting lineup and who the Riveters have dressed for the game have yet to be released.
The Connecticut Whale are a team with a lot of fire power up front and they'll be a good test for the Riveters' defensive, blue-collar brand of hockey. Five of their top six paid players are forwards and that dynamic, dangerous group features Kelli Stack from the USWNT.
Three Key Players for the Whale
Kelli Stack- Stack is the highest paid player in the league (cap hit $25,000) and a standout forward from the USWNT. She has three gold medals in the IIHF World Women's Champions and two Olympic silver medals from her time terrorizing opposing goaltenders with Team USA.
Yekaterina Smolentseva- Smolentseva is one of two Russian national team members playing in the NWHL this season, the other, of course, is the Riveters' Lyudmila Belyakova. Smolentseva has scored a total of 35 points (19g, 16a) in 8 Women's Worlds appearances in her career, and is a women's hockey legend in Russia.
Jessica Koizumi- Koizumi won the Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades in 2013 and 2015 and will be a dangerous forward for the Whale this season. Koizumi has a gold from the 2008 IIHF Women's World Championships and she piled on 155 points in 132 games during her NCAA career with Minnesota Duluth.
Additional Reading on the Connecticut Whale:
- "So you need an NWHL team: the Connecticut Whale"
- Watch This Hockey: Final Four Signings for the Whale
- Watch This Hockey: Weekend Preview!
- Victory Press: Whale Season Preview
Nana Fujimoto is the projected starting goaltender for the Riveters, although Chad Wiseman has made it clear that the decision of who gets the nod in net will be made every week with goaltending coach Jonathan de Castro.
Expect Ashley Johnston, Elena Orlando, Kiira Dosdall, and Gabie Figueroa to log big minutes tonight on the Riveters' blue line in their effort to keep Stack and the rest of the Whale's forwards under check.
Please treat this as your open game thread if you'll be watching history take place today at 1:30 PM EST.
Are you ready for professional women's hockey? Let's do this. Let's go Riveters!
Thanks for reading.