When the Montreal Canadiens season ends April 9, goalie Ben Scrivens will go home to Denver and ponder his next move. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, his future in hockey wide open and uncertain at the same time.
But he won’t be the only member of the Scrivens family with a decision to make.
His wife, Jenny, also is a professional goalie and she too is without a contract for the 2016-17 season.
“It will be a great time for us to sit back, reflect on the crazy roller coaster of a year we’ve had and figure out our next steps,” Jenny said. “We’re happy with how the past year went. Now it’s time to re-evaluate, spend some time together and see what we want to do next.”
Spending time together this season was tough. Ben began the season playing for Bakersfield, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. Jenny, who was director of communications for Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton, would see her husband when their schedules allowed.
But then she decided to put on the goalie pads again, signing her first professional contract with the New York Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League. Each of the four teams in the new league could sign players to a one-year contract last season.
“She got the opportunity to play professionally and come out of retirement following college,” Ben said. “I was extremely excited for her; it’s a great opportunity. I was on board from Day One. I thought it was such a cool opportunity for her.”
Jenny played goalie for three seasons at Cornell University, where she met Ben. She took off her senior year to focus on her education, giving her an opportunity to finally see Ben’s games; more often than not, if the men’s team was playing at home, the women’s team was on the road, or vice versa.
After college, Jenny put her pads to the side, and Ben embarked on a professional career.
The husband and wife, who married in June 2012, each suited up for the Racker Rivals Big Red exhibition game at Cornell in July 2015. Unbeknownst to Jenny, that game would be the start of her comeback.
After signing with the Riveters, Jenny had two months to shake off the rust. She needed to get back on the ice, but more importantly, she needed equipment.
Because of the recent regulations on goaltender equipment in the NHL, Ben’s old pads (made for him at 6-foot-2) proved to be a perfect fit for his wife, who is 5-foot-9. Ben also connected Jenny with goalie instructor Timm Lorenz in Colorado, where the Scrivens family spends its summers, and Blair Faulkner in Edmonton.
“I didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to be a coach and try to guide her through the comeback process,” Ben said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of good coaches and be immersed in the goalie brotherhood around the League. When the opportunity came up for Jen, we realized she had to get back on the ice as soon as possible.”
Jenny also wore Ben’s old pads from his days with the Oilers during the NWHL preseason, making them the first set to be worn in the NHL and NWHL. The unique set was auctioned off on eBay on March 25, and the proceeds from the winning bid of $1,550 went to the NWHL Foundation in an effort to help grow women’s hockey.
Helping promote the sport is part of Jenny’s other job. Not only does she play goalie for the Riveters, she does public relations/communications for the league. It’s why she was at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The Boston Pride of the NWHL played Les Canadiennes of the CWHL in the first Outdoor Women’s Classic on Dec. 31.
Ben was there that weekend too. On Dec. 28, he was traded from the Oilers to the Canadiens, who needed goalie depth because of a long-term injury to starter Carey Price. Ben joined his new team in time for their outdoor game against the Boston Bruins on New Year’s Day.
“Christmas morning, we each had to leave,” Jenny said. “He went to Bakersfield, and I came to Brooklyn. Our plans were to see each other at the end of January during the AHL break. … It was fate; it was perfect timing. It was a lot of fun. I got to watch the end of his practice as I was setting up for our game, and then he watched the women’s game with me. He got to meet some of my friends and co-workers and got to support the Pride team.
“We got to spend New Year’s Eve together, which we never get to do.”
Ben and Jenny had another one-of-a-kind moment Jan. 17.
Ben was in net for the Canadiens against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. Jenny, some 800 miles away in Brooklyn, was in goal for the Riveters.
“For us, we’ve only known each other as goalies, so it wasn’t anything new,” Jenny said. “It kind of hit home that we’re both doing something we love and have each other’s support to do this and fulfill our dreams.”
That support has never wavered, no matter how many miles were in between the two.
During the NHL All-Star break, Ben came to New York and joined Jenny and her teammates at practice. He hopped on the team bus for the Riveters game at the Buffalo Beauts on Jan. 31.
“I just pushed pucks around and made sure I stayed out of the way,” Ben said. “I was there to enjoy it, have fun and see what their team was all about.”
Ben didn’t remain on the sidelines for long; Jenny put her husband to work during the game.
“It was definitely my idea,” Jenny said. “I help run the social media accounts during the week. When it came close to game time, I was looking for someone to run the account during the game. I had no hesitations about putting him to work in that regard. He was great, engaging with the fans, answering some questions, and he had good commentary.”
Truly a hockey couple, but the game, though a major part of their lives, isn’t the only part. In fact, Ben and Jenny seldom talk shop around the house.
“When you’re at home, you want to relax, so we generally don’t talk about hockey much at all unless there’s a decision to be made or something like that,” Ben said. “We’re talking about literally anything else other than hockey.”
But there will be hockey conversations this summer, when Ben and Jenny decide their hockey future and whether they are ready for another season in which they have to juggle schedules while stopping pucks.