Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

NWHL

Gold-medalist Kessel, NWHL to return to Pittsburgh

Amanda Kessel in the 2017 NWHL All-Star Game. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

The Pittsburgh area will host an NWHL game for the third consecutive season, when the Metropolitan Riveters will face off against the Connecticut Whale in a neutral-site regular season game on Dec. 2 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.

Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins will recognize the name of 2018 Olympic gold medalist Amanda Kessel on the Riverters roster.

“Pittsburgh is a special place for my family, so I’m really looking forward to being with the Riveters in front of the city’s great hockey fans on December 2,” Kessel said in a press release. “Playing in the 2017 NWHL All-Star Game in Pittsburgh was a lot of fun, and the support from the fans was incredible. The Penguins organization has been an amazing partner for the NWHL and tremendous for the development of our sport across all levels.”

Kessel, 26, won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South in February. Olympic players did not participate in the NWHL during the 2017-18 season. Kessel will return to the New Jersey-based Riveters for the upcoming season. She had four goals and 14 assists in eight games for the Riveters in 2015-16.

The Penguins’ practice facility continues to be an attractive venue for events hosting by organizations from outside the area and has established a track record of solid attendances for professional women’s hockey.

“We enjoy working together with the NWHL to promote women’s hockey and hockey at all levels and will have several related events that weekend,” president Rich Hixon said.

The NWHL All-Star game was held at the rink on Feb. 12, 2017 and the Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale played a neutral-site game there on Jan. 14, 2018. Both games drew solid attendance figures, leading to speculation that the area could be host to a future expansion team.

“It’s such a hockey community,” NWHLPA director Anya Battaglio said to PHD’s Brian Mitchell in January. “When we tweet about it, and we give them a taste, Pittsburgh just goes bananas. Working with the Penguins is great. That team is so open for ideas and for collaboration, honestly it would be a great spot.”

The game will be played on a Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Tickets will be $20 and are available on the NWHL’s website.

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