Photo By Michelle Jay
May 7, 2018 – Metropolitan Riveters goaltender Katie Fitzgerald, who recently completed her second season in the NWHL as an Isobel Cup champion and the MVP of the playoffs, has been invited to participate in the USA Hockey Women’s National Goalie Development Camp this week in Blaine, Minnesota.
“This is an awesome opportunity and I’m so excited to be part of it,” said Fitzgerald. “Getting to play pro hockey after college has extended my career and led to so many great things, so I’ll proudly represent the NWHL at USA Hockey’s camp.”
After being named NWHL Goaltender of the Year in her rookie season, in 2016-17, the 24-year-old Fitzgerald had an even better year in the Riveters’ Isobel Cup campaign. The 5-11 goalie from Des Plains, Ill. was 12-3-0 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in the regular season. She had shutouts in both playoff games to lead her team to the Isobel Cup. A two-time NWHL all-star, the former standout from St. Cloud State was also a member of Team NWHL when it played a two-game series against Team USA in Tampa, prior to the Olympic Team heading to Pyeongchang for the Olympics.
“We are so pleased that Katie has earned this invitation,” said NWHL Deputy Commissioner Hayley Moore. “This is a testament to Katie’s incredible work ethic, commitment to improving her game, and her personal development in the NWHL in the past couple of years. She has emerged and proven herself to be a game-changing goaltender in our league.
“The Team NWHL series in January was an excellent opportunity for Katie to display what she’s capable of at the National Team level. She certainly turned heads with her performance in Florida, as well as through her stretch as the 2018 Isobel Cup MVP.”
The National Goalie Development Camp takes place in Blaine, Minn. from May 10-13. The camp is led by Matt Kelly, the former collegiate goalie and assistant coach at Clarkson who is now the Head Scout for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“USA Hockey’s support and collaboration in player development has been an integral part of this opportunity,” said Moore. “We look forward to cheering Katie on and celebrating her success.”
Photo By: Troy Parla
Q&A with Katie Fitzgerald
How were you informed that you were being invited to the camp?
I received an email from USA Hockey about a week after our season ended.The first people I told were my roommates, since they were with me, and then I told my parents.
What are your expectations for the camp?
It will be a couple days of hard work, which is always fun, especially when it’s a part of goalie world! But I’m excited to meet everyone and soak up everything that I can.
When you graduated St. Cloud State two years ago, did the thought of an opportunity like this ever cross your mind?
At the time of graduation, I thought my hockey career was over, so I definitely never thought an invitation to a national camp would be in my future.
How much has becoming a pro in the NWHL enhanced your development as a goaltender?
Tremendously. Part of why thinking that my hockey career was over after college was so sad was because I felt that I had so much more left in me. So having the opportunity to continue to play and grow in the NWHL has been essential.
How much do you think playing against Team USA in Florida last January as part of Team NWHL led to this? You certainly showed them your ability.
Being in front of the right eyes certainly helped and to be able to play against the Olympic Team right before they left for Pyeongchang was an amazing challenge.
What were your feelings going into your start against Team USA? Were you nervous, hoping to make an impression?
I was equally excited and nervous. I played against a lot of them in the past whether in college or the NWHL, but to face all of them together was a whole new task. I was excited for the challenge and nervous in the best way because I wanted to represent the NWHL proudly and do my best. I was also lucky that my family made the trip to Tampa, so having them there helped a lot. Other than that, I didn’t really let myself think about it. As a goalie especially, you have to be aware of what you’re facing, but at the end of the day if you focus on what you do best, you’re able to quiet your mind.
Who are the people around the Riveters and the NWHL that have helped you reach this milestone?
Obviously, Becca Baker has helped me tremendously through my last two years of college and first year pro. We’ve been on quite a journey, so to see it continue is exciting. Also our Riveters coaches – Chad Wiseman in particular – I owe a lot to because he’s the one who gave me the opportunity with the Riveters right when I was about to hang up my skates. Being a part of the team with Chad as our coach has helped me improve and continuously raising the bar and what to expect from myself but also to enjoy the experience. And of course Dani Rylan, for having the vision and drive to create this league and give us the chance to continue our careers after college, without which I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have today.
Between the Isobel Cup Final and getting the invitation, what have you been doing to prepare for the camp?
I took a little time to relax and enjoy our Isobel Cup win, but once I got the news about the USA camp, I got right back to work. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do my workouts at Barnabas Health Hockey House with the resources we have in the training areas. I’ve recently made my way back to Illinois so I’ve been skating at the local rinks here and training.
Since your Riveters are aligned with the New Jersey Devils, has the NHL club been supportive?
Yes! They’ve allowed me to have access to our locker room and the workout equipment. I would especially like to thank Jason Verrico, who always let me into the rink early and helped me with anything I needed!
Were your fellow goaltenders with the Riveters these last two seasons (Sarah Bryant, Kimberly Sass and Sojung Shin) helpful in working with you?
We’ve always had an awesome goalie trio with the Riveters! We have a great dynamic and always push each other to get better while supporting and cheering for each other. No one understands what a goalie goes through like your goalie partners.
Do you expect other NWHL players from last season to someday also get opportunities with the national program?
I believe it’s a strong possibility. The third season of the NWHL really showed the depth of talent in the league.