The New York Riveters surprised the world of women’s hockey today by signing 30-year-old former Olympian Erika Lawler.
Lawler, a three-time NCAA Champion with the Wisconsin Badgers, won silver with the United States in 2010. She also won silver and gold twice with USA Hockey at the Women’s World Championships, scoring 13 points in 20 games at the Worlds.
Lawler claims that she lost her passion for the game after she learned she was no longer part of USA Hockey’s long-term plans in her mid-twenties. She played with the Boston Blades (CWHL) during the 2012-13 season, but stepped off the ice after that.
Lawler is no stranger to the NWHL. She was the Director of the NWHLPA in the league’s inaugural season after trying out to make the Riveters. The idea of a comeback was not a spur of the moment decision for the former Olympian. Lawler has been in training for the last six months to get back into shape. However she does have some concerns about getting back up to game speed.
“Quickness was my wheelhouse on the ice, so it will be interesting to see how I measure up after a few years away,” Lawler admitted. “There’s going to be an adjustment period, no doubt. I expect to be rusty throughout preseason, but over time I hope to get my legs under me so I feel more like myself on the ice.”
With Lawler signed the Riveters have another bona fide star forward in the mix for next season. She could be the top-six center that the Riveters desperately needed to find in free agency this summer. And there will be very few players in the NWHL next season who share her level of experience.
“We are thrilled to have Erika joining our organization,” Riveters head coach Chad Wiseman shared in the league’s press release. “She is a world-class athlete who brings a wealth of experience and leadership. We expect Erika will fill the void up the middle created by the loss of Janine Weber.”
The Riveters now have 18 players under contract for next season, including nine forwards. Lawler is now the oldest player on the Riveters current roster, surpassing veteran defender Kiira Dosdall. She’s also one of three current Riveters who once played for the Boston Blades.