The New York Riveters (3-5-2) host the Boston Pride (8-0-0) in the first NWHL game of 2017. A shootout was needed to end a thrilling game the last time these two teams faced off against each other in Newark on December 4. Boston skated away with two points in the standings after winning the shootout 1-0 and thus the game 3-2.
According to preliminary reports, the Riveters are expected to welcome back superstar forward Amanda Kessel. The US Olympian has missed the last nine games due to an injury. Kessel's scoring prowess would be a crucial addition to a New York team which averages the fewest goals per game in the league. The Riveters have relied upon rookie phenom Rebecca Russo to carry the offense this season. Kessel's return could open up room throughout the rest of the lineup to start pitching in on the offense.
The Pride, meanwhile, are undefeated but by no means are unbeatable. Due to scheduling quirks based on international competitions, Boston has not played since the shootout game against New York on December 4, over a month ago. How Boston comes out to start the game after such a long hiatus will be a key storyline in this game. Their star-studded squad is well-equipped to handle a challenge, but the Riveters are going to be hungry to finish what they were not able to last month.
#28 F Amanda Kessel (1 GP | 0 G | 2 A) - Amanda Kessel possesses game-changing talent and is among the most skilled hockey players in the NWHL. Her absence has certainly weakened the team, even if it has been masked due to the breakout performance of Rebecca Russo. Kessel's playmaking ability, particularly on the powerplay, can dominate teams and change the course of any given game. If she indeed does make her return tonight, look for her to showcase her skills and find the boxscore early and often.
#25 F Alex Carpenter (8 GP | 5 G | 6 A) - The former first overall pick of the New York Riveters has shown why she was so revered heading into last year's draft. Her decision to sign with Boston after New York traded her has clearly worked in her favor, scoring 11 points on the league's best team. She has registered a point in all but one game this season and will look to continue her productive play.
This is a great opportunity for the Riveters to build off of what they started and possibly deal the Pride their first loss of the season. However, Boston is undefeated for a reason. Their stellar roster has shown time and time again how dangerous they are throughout the lineup. If this game is even a shadow of the last meeting between these two teams then it will be well worth the watch.