If this turns into some hockey confessional well then my name is Daniel, and I’m a first time NWHL viewer who is already hooked on the product.
I don’t really have an excuse for never watching the NWHL before. Outside of it being not easily accessible on TV and I’m someone who is a novice to Twitch, with this weekend’s games being my first real experience with the platform. The Flyers hold my attention nightly to maintain this website and podcast, and as a season ticket holder with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and lucky enough to have Service Electric to watch games I miss in person and select away games, the NWHL had trouble cracking my viewing schedule.
So I sat down Saturday afternoon curled up in my bed with my laptop and started watching the NWHL. The Riveters took on the Tornto Six in their inaugural game in the league and I was immediately hooked. With two quick early goals for the Rivs, a crushing check from Julie Allen, and a sprawling save from forward Kelly Babstock, who dove to knock the puck away from the goal line after it trickled through goalie Sonjia Shelly, I couldn’t look away from the action. I missed most of the Boston vs Minnesota game while I was running a few errands, but sat down during the Buffalo vs Connecticut game, which was running simultaneously with the Flyers vs Bruins game. I had one eye on each game until the Flyers collapsed late in the second period, meanwhile the NWHL game was a close one-goal game that ended in a shootout. That game had my full attention as it drew on and the Flyers crapped the bed.
As a lifelong Flyers fan, I think i can get numb to the beauty of the sport of hockey. I often say that I don’t observe the game as a fan anymore because that part of me feels like it died long ago. Some nights it’s nothing more than my job that I just have to get through. But I didn’t feel that way on Saturday while watching the NWHL.
The Women’s League feels fresh. There’s no home town team to live or die by, I have no real skin in the game yet, and with a certain unfamiliarity with the players themselves it’s a learning process to discover who to keep an eye out for on a shift-by-shift basis. It’s plenty competitive and the lack of piped-in crowd noise like we’re getting in the NHL gives a very personable experience to the game. You can hear all the action, the communication, and even the coaches yelling on the benches. It’s a whole different level of immersion to the game. The commentators, which have seemingly been a revloving cast, have done a great job to cover the game, as well as being active with the Twitch chat, yet another level of investment that you won’t get anywhere else.
There’s still plenty for me to learn and I’m up to the task, and I’m quite frankly eager to discover more about the NWHL. I need to figure out who the star players are, the history of the league no matter how limited it may be, and some of the differences in rules. I feel rejuvenated as a fan and I’m excited to watch the games. I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve said that about this sport. For right now the NWHL has my undivided attention and for the sake of the league, I hope it does great numbers during the Isobel Cup on NBCSN and games will be regularly featured on a national level. If you haven’t checked out the NWHL yet, please do, you won’t regret it.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nwhl.zone