Cailey Hutchison, who was born and raised in Nassau County, was one of the small group of players selected in the recent National Women’s Hockey League draft, something that took her by complete surprise.
“Normally, in the past they have you register for the draft,” said Hutchison. “But now they don’t even have a draft registry. So I applied as a free agent. I thought that I was going to have to come home and tryout when I was finished with my [college] season.”
When draft day came by, Hutchison was not aware that she would get the selection. However, her coach at the University of Maine, Richard Reichenbach, called her the night before to tell her the good news. For the first time in the history of the Maine Black Bears, the girl’s hockey team has a draft pick.
“I was like ‘Oh, who is it?’ and he was like ‘You,’” said Hutchison. “I literally sat there and didn’t say anything for thirty seconds. And then I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was a huge shock but a really amazing moment.”
Hutchison was taken with the 21st pick by the Metropolitan Riveters, a team that dons the name and a logo of Rosie the Riveter, the subject of the historic poster “We Can Do It!” in the World War II era. The team is based in Newark, New Jersey and plays in the Prudential Center, the home of the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. The team is the closest Hutchison will get to play to home in a few years and she’s excited to share these games with the people she loves.
“A bunch of Olympians were taken in this draft, so it’s really cool to even be considered amongst that group,” said Hutchison. “But to be drafted by the Riveters, that’s the team I wanted to play for. That dream is becoming a reality. I’ve been leaving home since I was 14 and I’m so happy to now be playing an hour and 15 minutes from my house. So my family gets to come and people who have watched me play have an opportunity now.”
The NWHL is a professional hockey league that has only been in operation since 2015. The league currently holds five teams, including the Riveters, the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and the Minnesota Whitecaps. While it is a newer organization, it’s presence has already left a lasting impact on women who want to pursue hockey at the professional ranks. Hutchison has been fascinated with the league since it came to fruition and is excited to now be part of the league’s rise.
“It’s really important to me because I coach girls on the island,” said Hutchison. “One of my goals is to help Long Island hockey become better than it was when I was there. So to be part of this league and have the chance to help it grow, and to show these little girls that they have the opportunity to play professionally, is something I never dreamt of. I hope to give these girls the hope that they can play hockey as long as they possibly can.”
Hutchison will be on the ice for the Riveters this fall following the completion of her senior year at the University of Maine.