On Saturday, the National Women's Hockey League opened its third season, with the Metropolitan Riveters playing their first home game at the Prudential Center against the Boston Pride. The day was historic for the league as the first NWHL game played in an NHL arena. Fans traveled from all over the country to see the game, which was the first of a hockey doubleheader. In the second game, the NHL's New Jersey Devils hosted the Arizona Coyotes. We went to chat with dedicated NWHL fans.
espnW: What made you want to come to this game?
Stephanie Seminara: I've been a season-ticket holder for years. I went out to Aviator [their old stadium], made that long trip from the subway, then they moved to Newark, [New Jersey], it was amazing. I'm a Devils fan too, so all my hockey came together. I'm so pumped they became a partnership.
espnW: Are you staying for the Devils game?
Seminara: I am! I have my season tickets and will be here all day.
espnW: How do you feel about the league adding more partnerships?
Stephanie: I'm really hoping for that. I know the [Buffalo] Beauts play out of the practice facility of the Sabres. The Pride are a little bit tough with the CWHL team [Boston Blades], but Connecticut has the Hartford Wolfpack. For the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh last year, there was great communication and a dynamic that worked. Potential expansion? I see that.
espnW: Who's your favorite player that you came out to see today?
Stephanie: That's really tough. I'm wearing a [Kiira] Dosdall jersey. She is the longest tenured player now. I really love Rebecca Russo, I'm excited to see Erika Lawler this season, she's getting her legs back and going to be a force.
Sisters Madison and Skyler Kennemer
espnW: Are you both Pride fans?
Skyler: I guess so. I didn't start out as one. Yeah, we are.
espnW: Who were you a fan of?
Skyler: The [Connecticut] Whale. I still like them. Boston kind of grew on me.
espnW: How did you get here today? Why are you both so dedicated?
Madison: We drove nine hours. [Alyssa] Gagliardi plays for the Pride, and she's from Raleigh, [North Carolina], too. So we kind of followed her the first season, and then Skyler listened to me about the game and we started watching more.
espnW: What's it like seeing an NWHL game in an NHL arena?
Skyler: It's really cool. I wasn't expecting it to have all the TVs on like a real game, so it was really cool to see it growing.
Madison: There's a lot of Devils fans that we saw that wouldn't come normally if not for this, so that was cool.
espnW: Have you been going to Riveters games?
Philips: Yes, I got my season tickets last year as soon as they moved to Newark. I didn't make the first season, but I followed the team since then.
espnW: What's it like to see a game at the Prudential Center?
Philips: It's amazing. This is so huge. I went to the final last year and it was good, but this feels like a whole new experience.
espnW: As a fan, where's your confidence with the league?
Philips: I think the Devils deal really helps it. They've had the sponsor for a while, but this is the next big step. It paves the way for more in the future.
espnW: Why'd you come out here today?
Korinek: We love the Rivs. Since last year, one of my daughters plays hockey, so we started going to hockey and discovered the Rivs. It was the best. This is our team to us.
espnW: Are you also a Devils fan?
Korinek: I'm a Penguins fan. I like the Penguins because players from Czech Republic, like [Jaromir Jagr], but we live in New York.
So we didn't like the Rangers or Islanders, so the Riveters are our hometown team here.