You likely saw Twitter light up in early October when news broke that the New Jersey Devils had partnered with the Riveters of the National Women's Hockey League.
"That's cool," you might have thought to yourself, before getting on with your day. Maybe you retweeted the news or saw some of the headlines - that the Riveters have changed their name from the "New York" Riveters to the "Metropolitan" Riveters, that their color palette now aligns with the red and black of New Jersey.
What you might not know is what the partnership actually means for you, a fan of the New Jersey Devils. That's what we're here for.
So let's start with the most important part: the basics.
Who are the Riveters?
The Riveters are one of four teams in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), an American women's professional ice hockey league that was established in 2015. Players who suit up for the Riveters are all drafted by the team or signed as free agents, and are all paid to play.
Riveters players have competed at the collegiate, national and international level. Names you should know on the current roster include Madison Packer, who has won gold at the IIHF U-18 Championships for Team USA; Harrison Browne, who won silver with Team Canada at the U-18's and is the only openly transgender athlete in U.S. pro sports; and Rebecca Russo, who was described multiple times to this writer as one of the best players in the league today. Teams typically include Olympians, but because 2018 is an Olympic year, those players are with their respective countries preparing.
NWHL teams compete for the Isobel Cup, named for Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy, the daughter of Frederick Stanley, donor of the Stanley Cup and, obviously, its namesake. This year, each team will play a 16-game schedule ahead of competing for the Cup in the spring.
The other three NWHL teams are the Connecticut Whale, Buffalo Beauts and Boston Pride.
In short? It makes sense for both teams.
The Riveters were already playing at the Devils' practice facility, the RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House, which means the two organizations were regularly in touch. The Isobel Cup Finals were held there in 2016, as well.
But more importantly, there's a desire for the Devils - as Jersey's team - to be "everything New Jersey Hockey," said Aldo Pigna, director of facility integration and business development. The organization wants to support girls' and women's hockey and help grow the game at a grassroots level, and Pigna, who runs the Hockey House, recognized an opportunity to do both. What better way than to partner with a team full of role models for young female hockey players?
That's a sentiment NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan seconded.
"Parents can take their son and daughter to the rink and they can look up to a pro male athlete and a pro female athlete," Rylan said. "They can know their kids can both have the same dream and the same role models to look up to. That's what this is all about."
On top of all that, for a hockey fan in New Jersey, more opportunities to watch the game played at a high level in Newark is a big bonus.
Credit president Hugh Weber and HSBE ownership with making it happen, Pigna said.
How can we see them play?
This is the best part. You can start by seeing the Riveters play at Prudential Center in their home opener on Oct. 28 at 1:30 p.m., part of a day/night doubleheader with the Devils, who will face the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. That's right - both teams on the same ice on the same day. $40 will get you a ticket to both games, or $150 will get you lower-bowl tickets to both games, as well as a Riveters season ticket. The game on Prudential Center ice is a great opportunity to watch the team on the main ice in what will be an intimate setting.
The remainder of the Riveters' home games (there are seven more) will be played at the Devils' practice facility, which is attached to Prudential Center. After every game, all Riveters players greet fans to sign autographs, take selfies and mingle.
"They stay 'til every last autograph is signed and every last photo is taken," Rylan said. "That's one of the things that's a different experience for fans. These are players fans can meet and develop a relationship with and a fandom for."
The Devils will be hosting a contest for four lucky fans to attend the Oct. 28 Riveters game and then watch the Devils-Coyotes game in a suite with Riveters players that night.
Finally, all NWHL games are streamed and select games will be aired on The One Jersey Network, the Devils' digital radio station.
The partnership's current terms are for three years, which means the team will be based here for the next three seasons and will have a home on the Devils' website during that time.
It also means that Riveters players will be out in the community alongside Devils players - on the ice at clinics and volunteering their time. There's hope they'll be around during some Devils games in the future as well, Pigna said.
For the Riveters, the most important part of the partnership is awareness and the belief that even more hockey fans will come to their games, now that the Devils' fan base has been introduced to professional women's hockey. Season tickets for the Riveters have doubled since the partnership was announced, so that seems to be the case so far.
"We believe anyone who is a Devils fan would be a fan of the Riveters' game," Rylan said. "And vice versa"