The NWHL’s Founder and Commissioner, Dani Rylan, announced Wednesday at a New York Riveters press conference that the Riveters will play two preseason games: the first against the New York Fire Department and the second against the Minnesota Whitecaps, a women’s team that plays in the Midwest in the WWHA.
The Whitecaps recently announced their 2015-2016 roster, which features players such as U.S. Olympic players Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux, Anne Schleper, Jesse Vetter and Finnish Olympic goaltender Noora Raty.
Raty recently made headlines by stating that she intended to play with a men’s team over the upcoming season once again instead of joining the NWHL, the first league to pay women hockey players for their skills.
Rylan has consistently said that the league is intended to be a place for the best women players in the world to play, and US Women’s Olympic Team players are certainly part of that target audience. Räty herself is considered one of the best women’s hockey goalies in the world, as well as simply one of the best goalies.
The Whitecaps have a contentious history with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, that was formed out of the remnants of the first iteration of the NWHL, of which the Whitecaps intended to join during the 2006-2007 season, but ultimately did not. They did, however, compete for the Clarkson Cup. The Whitecaps did not join the CWHL either when it was formed and were subsequently barred from vying for the Clarkson Cup, to which Hockey Canada owns the rights.
Recently, the CWHL announced that Minnesota was a likely area for expansion in the five-team league.
Rylan said at the April launch party for the NWHL that the league had targeted Minnesota as its first place for a future expansion team.
The first preseason game will also feature an interesting match up. The Riveters will play the FDNY, a hockey team that made itself infamous last year by way of a full-team ice brawl against their rivals, the New York City Police Department.
The game against FDNY will take place at Aviator Arena in Brooklyn Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3:30 pm. The Riveters will face off against the Whitecaps Oct. 4 at 11:30 am at the Chelsea Piers Arena located in Manhattan. Per Rylan the preseason games will not be available via streaming service, unlike all regular-season games.
UPDATE: Noora Räty has indicated on Twitter that she is only temporarily rostered with the Minnesota Whitecaps while training, and that she will not play with them against any NWHL teams.
An earlier version of this article indicated that the Whitecaps were part of the first NWHL. The article has been updated to correct that information.