Over the past few days, the women’s hockey world has been filled with news. A new team has been added to the NWHL, and the league’s free agency period opened up on June 1st. So far, the Buffalo Beauts have brought back Hayley Scamurra, Maddie Elia, Lisa Chesson, and Corinne Buie. In the realm of coaching and personnel, the newly founded Minnesota Whitecaps have announced that their co-coaches will be Robb and Shivaun Stauber. Additionally, the Boston Pride have named Paul Mara, a former NHL defenseman and assistant coach for the 2018 Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team, as their new head coach, making him the third coach in franchise history. However, the team with the most news surrounding them has been the Metropolitan Riveters. Over the past week, they have announced a series they will be playing outside of the U.S., the departure of a fan-favorite, and the return of another beloved former Riveter. Let’s take a look at what the 2018 offseason has had to offer the Riveters so far!

June 4th, 2018: Season two fan-favorite and 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist Amanda Kessel re-signs with the Metropolitan Riveters.

On June 4th, 2018, the Metropolitan Riveters announced that Amanda Kessel would be returning for season four. She first signed with the team just before the 2016-2017 season. In two pre-season games, she scored two points, both goals. Though dragged down by injuries for a significant portion of the year, she ended up appearing in eight regular season games. Kessel recorded four goals and 14 assists for a total of 18 points. She was an All-Star Game captain, scoring a hat-trick in the exhibition match and leading her team to victory. In one Isobel Cup Playoff game, she recorded one assist. For the 2017-2018 season, she left the Riveters to play in the Olympics. Now, with a gold medal under her belt, the team is sure to improve with her veteran presence and amazing offensive skill. The team’s full statement about Kessel’s return can be found here.

June 5th, 2018: NWHL announces “Champions Cup” between the defending SDHL (Swedish Women’s Hockey League) Champions, Luleå HF/MSSK, and the defending Isobel Cup Champions, the Metropolitan Riveters, in Sweden from September 26th-30th, 2018.

On June 5th, 2018, the NWHL announced that the Metropolitan Riveters will grow the game outside of the country once again. In the league’s inaugural season, the group traveled to Japan to play a few exhibition games against the Japanese women’s national ice hockey team, also known as “Smile Japan.” At the beginning of the 2016-2017 season, Team Russia played a five-game series against NWHL teams. They faced the Boston Pride once, the Connecticut Whale twice, and the Riveters twice as well. On September 25th and 26th, 2016, Team Russia played against the Riveters. They split the series, with Metropolitan winning game one 2-1 and Russia winning game two 4-1. This past season, Team Russia visited to face the Riveters once again, with Russia sweeping the series. This year, the Riveters, reigning Isobel Cup Champions, will face the SDHL’s defending champions, Luleå HF/MSSK, for a three-game series in Sweden. The continuing international play will help to spread awareness of women’s hockey and the NWHL all over the world. The NWHL’s full statement about the series can be found here.

June 6th, 2018: One of the four remaining “original” Riveters, the team’s first and only captain thus far, and beloved player (and human being), Ashley Johnston announces her retirement from the NWHL.

On June 6th, 2018, Ashley “Stretch” Johnston announced that she will not be returning for season four and that she will be retiring from the National Women’s Hockey League altogether. Johnston has been one of the team’s most passionate and talented players since day one. As the team’s captain for three years, she had been with the Riveters since the beginning and set a great example for her teammates, on and off the ice. In her personal farewell letter to the league, she explains that her years in the NWHL were so much bigger than just her own personal experiences. She is clearly set on growing the game and making women’s hockey more known throughout the world, even in retirement. She also added, in a post on her Instagram, that she will be a “season ticket holder for the Rivs” this upcoming season, further showing her unwavering support for the game, team, and league that she loves. Johnston’s full letter, jam-packed with stories about her unbelievable weekly commute over the past three seasons, can be found here.

Be sure to follow the NWHL for the rest of the offseason to see what else unfolds! A free agency tracker can be found here, and you can follow them on Twitter or check their website as well.

What do you think about the events of the Metropolitan Riveters’ offseason thus far? Can they successfully defend the Isobel Cup and become the NWHL’s first-ever back-to-back champions? Let us know what you think by tweeting us @PuckItUpBlog!

Want to read more about the NWHL’s recent developments, like their first expansion team? Click here!

Twitter: @nhljennifer

Tumblr: @jdmwriting

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