The Riveters’ hopes in their crucial rematch against the Connecticut Whale on Sunday received another shot in the arm with the news that 2017-18 NWHL Best Defender Courtney Burke is returning to the lineup.
Burke brings poise along the offensive blue line on the power play, smart defensive zone coverage, and plenty of leadership. In Burke’s eyes, a victory Sunday is paramount, and her Riveters are prepared for a strong second half heading into the all-inclusive NWHL playoffs.
“Our best practice as a team was right before Thanksgiving, so things are looking really good right now if we can get some momentum on our side,” Burke said on Friday. “We have everyone back, which is a huge plus. I believe in our team and feel we are going to have a good second half.”
Tickets for the Riveters-Whale showdown on Sunday at 2:00 in Newark are available now at NWHL.zone/tickets. The league’s Black Friday sales means you can get two $20 tickets for the price of one to witness the return of Burke, Miye D’Oench and Amanda Kessel by using code METROBOGO.
Burke missed the previous four games with an upper-body injury in the second regular-season game against Minnesota. The former college star at Wisconsin spent the last month and a half doing physical therapy three times weekly in order to rejoin her teammates looking to right the ship against the Whale.
On Sunday, Burke will be aiming her slap shot from the point at Meeri Räisänen, the Whale’s magnificent goaltender who shut out the Riveters last Sunday and was named the NWHL’s co-Player of the Week. While showing respect for her opponent, Burke says it’s on the home team to make life in the Connecticut crease more difficult.
“We definitely need to get lots of shots on net and look to create opportunities off rebounds,” said Burke.
With a healthy roster to choose from, the Riveters’ coaching staff had some tough decisions to make for Sunday lineup. But by the looks of this projected view of the lineup, it was obviously a good problem to have.
Despite the talent-laden lineup, Burke warns that the Riveters must be ready to play their best against the Whale, who in the eyes of many NWHL observers are the hardest-working and among the best-prepared teams in the league.“We just have to get back to the basics and play as a team,” said Burke. “We have all the pieces to be a great team, and we need to start executing.”