Having helped put Austria on the women’s hockey map, which has also included the efforts of stars such as Denise Altmann, Eva Beiter, Victoria Hummel and Anna Meixner, Janine Weber is truly worthy of All-Star status. In the aftermath of a landmark 2015 that was filled with numerous career milestones, the New York Riveters star forward begins 2016 on another historic note.
Becoming the first European player to participate in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, which was contested at Buffalo’s Harbor Center, such an event only added to Weber’s growing legacy. Said legacy has also included playing in the first-ever game in NWHL history, an October 11, 2015 affair that pitted the Riveters against the Connecticut Whale in Chelsea Piers.
Currently, Weber ranks third on the Riveters in scoring, while she ranks second in assists, testament to her strong playmaking skills. On December 27, 2015, she would register the first multi-goal game of her NWHL career, scoring twice in a 7-3 victory against the Buffalo Beauts, gaining Third Star of the Game honors, respectively.
Weber was joined by three Riveters teammates for the All-Star Game, featuring the likes of Morgan Fritz-Ward, Madison Packer, along with Nana Fujimoto, who complemented Weber’s historic presence as she became the first Japanese-born player to compete in the event. Weber and Fujimoto were both selected in the NWHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, while Fritz-Ward and Packer were among four players voted into the game via an online vote.
“It was a really amazing experience for all of us and I am honored to be able to have taken part in it.”
As a side note, the Riveters played a three-game exhibition series in Fujimoto’s native Japan in December, competing against the Japanese national women’s team. Not only did Fujimoto stand between the pipes for Japan in the first two games, Weber would also score a goal during the series.
Later that month, Weber’s devotion to her Riveters teammates was without dispute. As Meghan Fardelmann and Bray Ketchum were loaned from the Riveters to the Boston Pride for the Women’s Winter Classic in Foxboro, Weber was one of several Riveters that made the journey to the event in an admirable show of support.
Selected by Team Knight, named in honor of Boston Pride forward Hilary Knight, in the NWHL’s All-Star Fantasy Draft, it was the chance for Weber to reunite with a former teammate. During the 2014-15 season, Knight and Weber were members of the CWHL’s Boston Blades, which saw their season culminate with Weber logging the Cup-clinching goal, providing the Blades with their second Clarkson Cup in franchise history.
Of note, Knight and Weber were not the only Blades alums to grace the ice at the inaugural NWHL All-Star. Other former Blades that attained All-Star status included the likes of Kacey Bellamy, Blake Bolden, Brianna Decker, Kaleigh Fratkin, Alyssa Gagliardi, Brittany Ott, Jordan Smelker and Kelli Stack. Joining Knight and Weber among the former Blades on Team Knight included Bellamy and Smelker. For Weber to be teammates with them once again for such a special day, while rekindling the championship magic, only added to the feeling of accomplishment and happiness,
“So many of my teammates from last year were in Buffalo this weekend and it was so much fun to hang out with them again.”
The only member of the Riveters All-Star class to play alongside Weber on Team Knight was Madison Packer, who also played with Knight at the University of Wisconsin. Both would face off against newly minted Riveters rivals Fritz-Ward and Fujimoto, who were part of Team Pfalzer (named after Beauts captain Emily Pfalzer). Playing against Fujimoto for another time this season brought back fond memories of the Japanese experience while adding to the sense of fun that defined such a memorable event.
“It was fun to try to score on Nana and she was playing amazing. We were all goofing around before the game and also had a lot of fun on the ice.”
Considering that the other goaltender on Team Pfalzer was Brittany Ott, a teammate of Weber’s on the Blades during the run to the 2015 Clarkson Cup, it provided her with another former teammate and familiar face to attempt and score on. Despite Team Pfalzer prevailing in the contest, the feeling of victory was one shared by all players, who each made their own unique contribution to such a historic day for women’s hockey.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”