The New York Riveters have secured home-ice advantage in the first stage of the 2017 NWHL Playoffs. Fans of the Rosies will hope for some seasonal luck when their team hosts either the Buffalo Beauts or Connecticut Whale in Newark for a St. Patrick’s Day matchup on Friday, March 17. The Finals will take place in Lowell, MA on Sunday, March 19.
A rollercoaster season is nearing its end with the Riveters playing their best stretch of hockey in their history. Their dominant surge has coincided with the return of a healthy Amanda Kessel to their roster, a potential league MVP who has led them to their second seed finish.
Despite Kessel’s overwhelming production, it has not been a one-woman show. Help has come from pleasantly unexpected places during New York’s second season. Rookies have contributed to the offense and stabilized the defense while Katie Fitzgerald has built a fortress in the blue paint. The Riveters are a solid hockey team in every facet of the game, one that has a legitimate claim to the Isobel Cup.
However, a giant stands in their path: The undefeated Boston Pride.
New York has two games remaining in the regular season before the playoffs begin, both against Boston. The playoffs are a single-elimination game format, so anything can happen. However, it is a safe bet to assume that the likeliest matchup in the Finals would be between New York and Boston. The Riveters can prove a lot to themselves and to the Pride if they can take a win in these last two games.
Monday isn't so bad when you clinch second and get to host the Isobel Cup semi-finals pic.twitter.com/qGCTntmXMb— Kaleigh Fratkin (@fratkin13) February 27, 2017
The Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale will be battling to avoid a fourth seed finish and thus a first round meeting with Boston. Unfortunately for them, the alternative route is not exactly alluring. New York is a completely different team than their inaugural season. They can beat teams in many ways and can fire off stretches of seeming invulnerability which can span several games.
All they need is two good games in mid-March and they can potentially give Boston a taste of their own medicine, hoisting the Isobel Cup in the other’s backyard.