NJ Colonials, Colonials, Riveters
MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 7: Shannon Turner #6 of the Connecticut Whale and Madison Packer #14 of the Metropolitan Riveters at a ceremonial puck drop before the game at Mennen Sports Arena on November 7, 2021 in Morristown, New Jersey. (Kate Frese)

NJ Colonials Bring Enthusiasm to Riveters Opening Weekend

If you attended the Metropolitan Riveters games this past opening weekend, you may have noticed a large cheering section for several players in particular. The New Jersey Colonials, a youth league team, turned out in full force to cheer on their coaches. Chants of "Emily! Emily! Emily!" rained down on the arena every time Emily Janiga, the director for the girls' program, gained possession of the puck. The same went for Kristen Barbara and Brooke "Birdie" Avery, each time they took to the ice.

ESPN took notice, zooming in on the penalty box as a youth player came up to greet Janiga when she went in during the second period for hooking. Photographer Kate Frese also highlighted the enthusiasm from the Colonials, and in particular the importance of representation on the ice.

That point was felt by the girls in attendance. Rachel Reiter, left wing for the 19U Major team, has been playing hockey since she was five, but this is the first time she's had a female coach. She says, "seeing my female coach play the highest level possible is really, really cool. It's something to look forward to and know as a goal that I can have."

Kailin Kane, center for the 16U Major team, echoed similar sentiments. She has gone to "a ton" of Riveters games, ever since the first season. She says she enjoys "watching women's hockey better," calling it "more tactical and fast-paced." Reiter adds that the Riveters players are "insane at hockey."

This is 16U Major forward Princess Delano's first year playing for the Colonials. She also plays on the boys' hockey and lacrosse teams at her high school, but feels "more women should play hockey."

NJ Colonials, Colonials, Riveters

MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 7: Fans receive a signed poster before the Metropolitan Riveters game against the Connecticut Whale at Mennen Sports Arena on November 7, 2021 in Morristown, New Jersey. (Kate Frese)

Their coaches were thrilled to see and hear them at the game, as well. They gathered with their team after Saturday's match for photos, and several of the teens talked over each other about different moves that they saw on the ice that they recognized from practice. Janiga expressed after the game that she has "a lot of pride [in the team]. They're so happy for us."

"We've spent hours since July in practice with them," said Barbara,"teaching them these things that we know in hockey and that we've been taught...so it was cool for them to see us for the first time on the ice doing things that we've been trying to implement with them and teach them, and they get to come out and they get to watch it. Now it's something that we don't think about until they start telling us that they're excited to come watch us play and they think it's so cool that we're coaching so it's really rewarding."

Riveters and Colonials Seek More Publicity for Women's Soccer

It was easy to see the future of women's hockey in the stands this weekend, but the girls are aware of the journey ahead. When asked what is needed to get more fans in the arena, Reiter declared that the league needs publicity. She wants it to be "more known that these games are happening because they're really fun to watch. Delano agreed, saying, "I want it to be just as popular as men's hockey."