Melissa Burgess

NWHL Preview: Metropolitan Riveters

Leading up to the 2018-19 National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) season, we'll be prepping fans for what lies ahead with capsule previews of each team. Today, we focus on the Metropolitan Riveters.

What Happened Last Season

The Riveters had a stellar season, winning 13 of 16 regular-season games and finishing atop the league. They capped off that success with the franchise's first-ever Isobel Cup championship, beating out the defending champion Buffalo Beauts.

The Riveters finished last season with a plus-34 goal differential and had the league's top three leading scorers, top five points leaders, and one of the league's top netminders in Katie Fitzgerald.

Coaching Staff

With long-time Riveters head coach Chad Wiseman off to the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm, NHL alumnus Randy Velischek is taking over as bench boss.

"I'm well aware of the program Chad started, and the successful and positive culture he created. It's my responsibility to continue the Riveters' tradition, and help every one of these gifted athletes maximize their potential," Velischeck said.

Kate Whitman Annis will serve as an assistant coach.

This Season's Roster

Forwards: Kessel, Nash, Richards, D'Oench, Russo, Lewicki, McKenna, Packer, Gruschow, Aramburu, Lawler
Defense: Morse, Burke, Picard, Ryan, Ziadie, Koelzer, Slattery, Dosdall
Goalies: Fitzgerald, Bryant, Sass

The Riveters can still add up to three forwards/defense.

Team Schedule

Sat., 10/6 @ MIN
Sun., 10/7 @ MIN
Sat., 10/13 @ BOS
Sat., 10/20 vs. MIN (at Prudential Center)
Sun., 10/21 vs. MIN
Sat., 10/27 @ BOS
Sun., 11/18 vs. CT
Sun., 11/25 vs. CT
Sun., 12/2 @ CT
Sun., 12/9 vs. BOS
Sun., 1/6 @ CT
Sat., 1/12 @ BUF
Sun., 1/20 vs. BOS
Sat., 2/2 vs. BUF
Sat., 2/23 @ BUF
Sun., 3/3 vs. BUF

Overall Thoughts

The Riveters have managed to maintain most of last season's Isobel Cup-winning roster, which puts them in a good position for success this season. Retaining Katie Fitzgerald as their number-one netminder could be the most important key to the upcoming season.

The losses of Ashley Johnston and Harrison Browne to retirement will hurt, but the Riveters are in good shape with their new leadership group, including captain Michelle Picard. Madison Packer and Kiira Dosdall, a pair of long-time Riveters, will be the alternates.

The re-introduction of Amanda Kessel to the team should provide an additional boost of Olympic power that can only help the Riveters be even better going forward.

While the Riveters' roster has remained relatively the same from last season, there have been a lot of other moving parts across the NWHL, and that's where things get interesting. They'll start the season off against the league's new team and won't play at home until the third week of the season.

Facing the Beauts for each of the last three games of the season will certainly be interesting, especially if the teams end up being at the top of the league standings like last season. Those last few games could make all the difference in the standings and playoff positioning.

Finally, there are some sizable gaps in the team's schedule where they have no games (at least not any reported yet). In one sense, these stretches could provide needed rest, but if the team is on a hot streak, could cool things down.

So the question is: can the Riveters become the first team to repeat as Isobel Cup Champions? It's a lot to live up to, but in comparison, finishing with anything less than the championship would be a downer.

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