ALL PHOTOS BY TROY PARLA
Kristin Lewicki is in her second NWHL season but just like last year, everything is new for her again. Last season she joined the defending champion Buffalo Beauts as a rookie from Adrian College. This season she joined the defending champion Metropolitan Riveters after the Beauts decided they didn’t want to bring her back. So once again she had to learn about a new group of teammates, a new coach, new systems, and a new life outside of the rink.
Through the first seven games this season she has yet to record a point with the Rivs, but the chances have been there and often her shots have been just a few inches away from finding the back of the net. Currently, Lewicki is fifth on the team in shots on goal (15) and she’s also won her fair share of face-offs (20 of 34). Over her last three games ‘Wheels’, who won the Fastest Skater competition at the 2018 NWHL All-Star Weekend, has fired 13 shots on goal and is really starting to find her groove. In her most recent game, a 2-1 loss to Connecticut on Nov. 18, Lewicki narrowly missed scoring her first goal as a Riveter when she (loudly) rang a shot off the crossbar.
Following the game we spoke with the 23-year-old speedster from Moundsville, West Virginia to find out how she ended up signing with the Riveters, what she has been doing during her time away from the rink in New Jersey, whether or not she’s challenged a fellow speedster on the Rivs to a race and a few other topics.
How’d this all come about, you trading in your Beauts’ blue for Riveters’ red?
During the summer I hadn’t really planned on coming back, so I was open to anything really. Then Buffalo reached out to me and that ended up falling through. It was probably a week or two after that when Chad Wiseman reached out saying that the Riveters were interested (in signing me) and really wanted me to come here. I took about a week to think about it and figure out if it was what I wanted to do or not. I eventually decided it’s a great opportunity, so why not take the chance?
Is it weird at all for you, because of how last season ended on the ice (a 1-0 loss in the Isobel Cup Final) and a few weeks ago you’re here watching them raise a banner and all that goes with that?
At first I was thinking it might be kind of weird to see that, but it’s in the past. It’s behind me and it’s a new season. I’m glad for them that they won, its a great accomplishment. Now that I’m on this side I’m looking to help them repeat and help them bring it back.
Kristin, this is two years in a row now that you had to watch teams raise banners and get rings!
(laughs) Yeah, I know!
What’s one thing that you learned about this group that you didn’t know last season when you played against them?
Definitely how close they all are, it’s a really close-knit group. Whenever you come to the rink everyone is here to work and support each other. It’s a very close, hard-working group and it’s something that I’m glad to be a part of.
Was there anyone that you had any skirmishes or run-ins with last season on the Riveters, where now you don’t think they’re that bad?
Not really (laughs), for the most part, I’m pretty quiet out there (on the ice). I don’t really talk to people or anything like that. They kind of said the same thing, they said ‘you’re one of the ones we like, you were nice’. There wasn’t any bad blood or anything like that.
Last season during All-Star Weekend you won the Fastest Skater competition and two seasons ago your teammate Rebecca Russo won that competition. Have the two of you had a race yet?
No we have not (laughs). It hasn’t been mentioned, I don’t know if that will come about.
For real? You didn’t walk into the locker room strutting around when you got here like: I have the championship belt?
Maybe I’ll do that (smirks), see if she wants to race.
Has it been strange for you this season without your college teammates/linemates Sarah Shureb and Kaylyn Schroka, who were teammates with you last season in Buffalo?
It’s definitely different because last year was our fifth year playing together. We knew how each other play and we worked really well together. This year it’s almost like I’m on my own for the first time and I don’t know anyone. It’s been different, but at some point, we all have to go our own way so it’s alright. I miss them though!
The Riveters home opener you got to play in an NHL rink, at the Prudential Center. What was that experience like for you?
That was pretty surreal. It was really neat to see all of the Riveters stuff around the arena and being able to play in an environment like that. That’s something that I’ll definitely cherish. The locker room was really nice, and big, with carpeting and a nice bathroom (laughs).
You have some ties to Pittsburgh and in a few weeks you’ll be going back there for your second pro game there. How excited are you to be going back there for another game?I’m very excited. It’s not far at all (from my hometown in West Virginia) so a lot of my friends and family can come. And I also know a lot of people in the Pittsburgh organization, that run the Pens Elite - they were there last year and I’m sure I’ll see them as well. It’s very exciting to play a game that close to home and to have all of those people come and support me. I’m definitely looking forward to it.