PHOTO BY TROY PARLA
It’s official: Miye D’Oench is back.
The beloved No. 19 of the defending Isobel Cup champion Metropolitan Riveters returns to the lineup on Thanksgiving weekend, when her team hosts a rematch against the Connecticut Whale on Sunday at 2:00 pm at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House.
“It might take a minute to get my timing and everything else back,” D’Oench said with a laugh, pondering her season debut. “I’m in ‘gym shape,’ but as you know, that’s a whole lot different from being ready for hockey. I’ve got so much excitement and energy…I’m hoping it carries me through the first game.”
D’Oench was away from the game for a noble reason. The Harvard graduate spent the last several months in Kentucky as a field organizer for the celebrated campaign of Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired 20-year Marine fighter pilot who was running for a House seat in Kentucky’s Sixth District. McGrath lost to the incumbent, Andy Barr, but garnered 47.8 percent of votes – an extraordinary number in a district where Democrats have rarely come close.
To be sure, D’Oench missed the hockey and her teammates, but cherished the experience of working for McGrath and for a cause that was monumental to the Riveter.
“With everything that’s going on in our country, I felt a sense of urgency,” said D’Oench. “I didn’t want to sit it out. I set out on this journey to do my part to help the Democrats win the House. That goal was accomplished.
“The results took a few days to process, to be honest. I’m an athlete, so I understand that a win is a win, a loss is a loss. But I see what was accomplished for the Democratic Party in the Sixth District of Kentucky. There was a groundswell of engagement and activism, people knocking on doors and supporting an amazing candidate with a passion. In the big picture, this wasn’t just a moral victory.”
PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY
Through it all, D’Oench focused on rejoining the Riveters after Election Day. On her rare moments away from the campaign, she trained at a gym and rollerbladed. She began practicing with the team last week, and has skated on her own whenever she had found the time and ice. After more practices around Thanksgiving, the champion and activist will return triumphantly before the Riveters fans on Sunday.
“Watching the Rivs on my phone from Kentucky, I was envious, seeing those games that launched the NWHL in Minnesota, the game at Prudential Center, the battles against Boston,” D’Oench said. “I look back at the experience I had on the campaign and wouldn’t change a thing, but I also can’t wait to be back with my teammates and playing in front of our fans.”
Tickets for the Riveters-Whale game on Sunday remain available at NWHL.zone/tickets, and for those who cannot make it to Newark, the team of Sherry Ross, Erica Ayala and Matt Falkenbury will have the call on the NWHL Twitter Game of the Week.