PHOTO CREDIT: Troy Parla
The pressure to perform is always high when an athlete plays their rookie season in their home area. It gets taken up a notch when that home area is New York and New Jersey. It takes on even more importance when you are the player coming back in a trade involving the NWHL’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 Draft.
Miye D’Oench certainly had a lot pressure to deal with in her rookie season with the Riveters. But you wouldn’t know it by her constant smile, her impeccable work ethic and hockey talent that led her to being a key piece in the turnaround and success of the Riveters franchise.
As she enters her second season, a disappointing end to her rookie season coming at the hands of the Buffalo Beauts in the Isobel Cup Playoffs, D’Oench has only one thing on her mind when it comes to goals for the Riveters in the 2017-18 season.
“The goal for the team is always the same: win Isobel.”
There is certainly no sugarcoating it for the Riveters. Anything less than their first trip to the Isobel Cup Final and then winning it would be a disappointment next season. And D’Oench will be a major piece of the puzzle that can lead them there.
Arriving in New York after the Riveters traded Alex Carpenter to the Boston Pride for D’Oench during the 2016 offseason, the Manhattan native was returning home to play hockey. After graduating from Harvard University, the return to New York also helped jump start her career as she started a job as a paralegal in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
“I'm thinking about becoming a lawyer after I hang up my skates," said D'Oench. "My dad was a lawyer and it's something I've become more and more committed to recently. There are a lot of different directions to go with a law degree and I'm not set on any single one, but the possibilities are intriguing to me.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Troy Parla
The start of her rookie season was a quick one. The first goal of the season for the Riveters came off her stick, off a nice feed from Amanda Kessel, and the first goal scored at home for the Riveters? That came off the stick of Miye D’Oench as well. In all she had four goals and two assists in the first six games, but the goals stopped coming.
Nine games without a goal was certainly an unexpected stretch for D’Oench, but it didn’t stop her from still being a big contributor as the Riveters kept pushing their season to heights the franchise had not enjoyed. She racked up seven assists and was a plus-2, including assisting on both goals in a 2-0 win over the Whale in Dec. 11 and three primary assists in the Riveters’ 8-6 win over the Whale on Feb. 12.
"I thought I got better as the season went on last year. It can be frustrating to go through a goal drought but I felt like I was contributing and improving in other ways. And our team was gaining momentum during that time too so ultimately it was a really fun part of the season.
The goal drought came to an end in dramatic fashion though the following week against Connecticut at home.
Trailing 5-1 late in the second period, the Riveters began to mount a comeback. Goals by Madison Packer, Janine Weber and Michelle Picard had sliced the lead down to one with just over eight minutes left. With a penalty to the Whale called right after the goal from Picard, the Riveters had a chance to tie things up. D’Oench fought her way to the middle of the offensive zone and tipped home a shot from Kaleigh Fratkin for her first power-play goal of the season. The drought was over and stunningly the game was tied.
“That was pretty crazy. I've never been part of a team that pulled off a comeback like that. We fed off each other's energy and the energy of the fans. It's always fun to score, but the feeling I remember is watching Court [Courtney Burke] get the game-winner in OT and clearing the bench.”
The overtime goal from Burke completed what was called the greatest comeback in NWHL history and in the next home game -- about three weeks later -- the Riveters took on the 16-0 Boston Pride in the season finale.
For D’Oench and her teammates, who had lost so many close games to the Pride leading up to that game on March 12, it was one last chance at redemption.
The intensity of the third period, with New York leading 2-1, seeing that lead slip away so quickly, only to gain it back a few minutes later and then have to hold on for over 14 minutes against the best team in women’s professional hockey was something D’Oench will never forget.
“The whole season we consistently got closer and closer to beating them, so when we finally pulled it off, it felt like an entire season of work had gotten us to that point. “
With the 3-2 win over Boston to cap off a winning season and the number two seed in the Isobel Cup Playoffs, the Riveters were primed for a run at a championship. But the fairy tale did not have a happy ending.
A 4-2 loss to the underdog Buffalo Beauts the following Friday in the playoffs brought an abrupt end to the season and sent D’Oench and the Riveters into the offseason much quicker than they ever expected.
“It was definitely tough to swallow since I really felt like we deserved another crack at Boston, but hats off to Buffalo and their playoff performance. It was a fun game to play in, really fast and physical. Of course you replay all the mistakes you made and all the opportunities you missed. At the end of the day though, I thought we played a great game. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way.
“I definitely think that the Riveters will go into next season with a chip on our shoulder. I don't think there will be any shortage of motivation for the returning players.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Troy Parla
Next season, the Riveters will look similar, but will have some big shoes to fill and will be counting on D’Oench and others to fill in. Gone are the likes of Kessel, Weber and Packer up front and with it are a combined 22 goals and 31 assists gone as well. D’Oench though is confident that she and her teammates can meet the challenge of stepping up.
“Every year I try and be better than I was the last season. With a chunk of last year's leadership gone, I definitely think we need a little more from everyone. I'm confident that people will rise to the challenge though, and it'll be cool to see how people step up.
“The great thing about hockey is that it's a true team sport. You really cannot win with just one superstar. I think every player needs to be [an] advocate and representative of the league, and I'm definitely committed to doing my part in that respect.”
Miye D’Oench is the entire package. A tenacious, fearless and speedy winger that can score, pass and work hard for every bit of ice she can get.
If the Riveters ever get in trouble on the ice, they know just to call their future lawyer. D’Oench will be ready, serving justice out each step of the way.
Tag(s): New York Riveters