One of four members of the New York Riveters to participate in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, it represented a proud career highlight for Morgan Fritz-Ward. Along with Shiann Darkangelo of the Connecticut Whale, they would become the first alums from Quinnipiac University to take part in the Game. It was somewhat fitting that the two were also members of Team Pfalzer’s roster.
Having graduated from Quinnipiac in 2015, where she was team captain in her senior season, Fritz-Ward set a career high for points, showing strong disciplined play with only 10 penalty minutes the entire season, as the Bobcats reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. Raised in Mason City, Iowa, where she also played softball and lacrosse, she is not only the first professional women’s ice hockey player from the state, but the first Iowa native to compete in the NWHL All-Star Game.
Among one of the first five players signed in Riveters history, Fritz-Ward is also one of the Riveters’ alternate captains, continuing her strong leadership in the professional ranks. Joining her on Team Pfalzer was fellow Riveters teammate, goaltender Nana Fujimoto. Madison Packer and Janine Weber, the first player ever signed to an NWHL contract, were the pair of Riveters suiting up for Team Knight.
Part of the All-Star experience for Fritz-Ward and Packer involved gaining the opportunity to compete in the event via an online fan vote. Of note, the four players with the highest number of votes would qualify. The two highest vote getters were both Riveters players as Packer received the most votes with 13,397. Fritz-Ward finished second overall with 6,948 votes.
The third and fourth players, Hayley Williams and Devon Skeats, who received the highest number of votes among Canadian players, were both with the Buffalo Beauts, the Game’s host franchise. In reflecting on the outcome of the fan vote, it was a proud season highlight for Fritz-Ward. Although she is not one of the league’s leading scorers, she brings a fundamentally sound game with a strong emphasis as a defensive-oriented forward, working tirelessly on the penalty kill, fearlessly blocking shots, proving that preventing goals can be just as important. Recognizing the support of the fans, Fritz-Ward was gracious,
“Just an incredible honor and unreal feeling knowing that the fans support us so much and are willing to take time out of their day to vote and keep up with the league it’s just awesome!!”
Although the Riveters had the fewest number of players participating in the All-Star Game, all brought a collective sense of unity, proud to be part of a remarkable chapter in Riveters history. Representing the Riveters and a landmark event in league history, all four Riveters exemplified the essence of team spirit and professionalism.
Starting with the formal Friday dinner, the sense of friendship and happiness between all four Riveters was strong. With bright, appealing smiles throughout All-Star Weekend, it was evident that there was a strong sense of sisterhood and happiness. Although Janine Weber and Madison Packer were opponents on Team Knight, there was no shortage of mutual respect,
“It was really fun all around and to be able to compete against your teammates makes it even better and that much more special to be able to share making history with them!”
During the entire All-Star Weekend, the sense of achievement and jubilation were prevalent. As all the events consisted of a strong fan focus, devoted to a highly positive experience, Fritz-Ward was happy to reciprocate. From the Saturday morning fan skate to the postgame autograph session, it was a special opportunity for Fritz-Ward and her fellow All-Stars to connect with the fans, while both fans and players alike came away with a lifetime of memories. It was part of an overall experience that she shall treasure,
“The atmosphere. For being the first of many, the fans were amazing as usual! They were engaged and very enthusiastic about the entire event from start to finish including the dinner Friday, skate Saturday, and game on Sunday! They are the reason we are here and the reason we are all able to continue to do what we love.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from Twitter