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Why the Riveters need another scoring threat

The Rivs offense needs a new dimension in 2020-21

Michelle Jay

Thus far, the story of the Metropolitan Riveters 2020 offseason has been the team successfully re-signing most of its core from 2019–20 and making additions to the blue line. At first glance, the biggest question mark for the Riveters is the status of All-Star goaltender Sam Walther. However, the Riveters have another question to address this offseason.

The team’s offense was largely one-dimensional last season as a result of being over-dependent on Madison Packer, Kate Leary, and rookie sniper Kendall Cornine. When they were unable to gain a foothold and sustain pressure, the Riveters’ offense was essentially toothless. The addition of another scoring threat would help ease that burden, which is why it ought to be at the top of the Rivs’ shopping list this summer.

The Duo and Score-Nine

General manager Kate Whitman Annis is already off to a promising start in rebuilding the offense, which finished fourth in the league with 2.63 G/GP (goals per game). Whitman Annis has already re-signed signed six of the Riveters’ seven highest-scoring skaters from last season — the exception being Russian forward Tatiana Shatalova. Of course, the most noteworthy returners are All-Stars Packer, Leary, and Cornine.

Together, that trio combined for 30 of the Rivs’ 49 even-strength goals in 2019–20. That ratio speaks volumes about how dependent the team was on them last year. When Cornine played on the top line at even strength with the two veteran wingers, the Rivs’ second line was unable to make much of an impact. The offense became even more one-dimensional.

Lack of depth

A quick and dirty way to understand the Riveters’ lack of scoring depth is to examine the goal production of the team’s second-tier scoring threats. Mallory Rushton, Shatalova, and Cailey Hutchison were respectively fourth, fifth, and sixth in points among Riveters forwards. Together, they combined for six goals despite cumulatively missing one game.

The rest of the scoring depth came from Kelly Nash, who joined the team on Christmas Eve, and rookie forwards Brooke Baker and Brooke Avery. Nash made her presence known with four primary points in 10 games and by giving the team depth down the middle. Avery used her 5-foot-10 frame to muscle her way to five goals. Baker, a defensive forward who excelled at killing penalties, finished the season with three goals and three assists.

It’s also worth noting that defenders Rebecca Morse and Leila Kilduff both scored four goals last year. Although, it should be noted that Kilduff was a shutdown defender at Minnesota State University. She had an 18.8 shooting percentage through 22 games in the NWHL last year, but expecting similar production from her next season would be asking a lot.

Potential targets

  • Delaney Belinskas | The Riveters selected Belinskas 10th overall in the 2020 Draft, which means they could have the inside track on the shoot-first winger. Belinskas scored 20 goals in 35 games as a senior at Boston College in 2019–20 while averaging over four shots per game. She is just what the Rivs should be looking for, but she’s a Florida native. From the outside looking in, it appears that the Rivs would need a lot of things to fall into place to add the sniper.
FloHockey: Women’s Ice Hockey-Quinnipiac at Boston College Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jayne Lewis | Lewis signed with the Riveters late in the regular season and made a big impression. She had a goal and two assists in two games and dressed for the Rivs in the Isobel Cup semifinal against the Whitecaps. The forward/defender scored at least 19 goals in her three final seasons at Sacred Heart, including 22 goals in 32 games as a senior in 2019–20. Lewis’ collegiate production is enough to suggest she would make an impact on the Rivs as either a forward or a defender if she re-signs.
  • Catherine Crawley | The UConn standout is a native of Washingtonville, N.Y., which makes her a local talent the Rivs should pursue. She finished her senior season with the Huskies with 31 points in 39 games, which was good for second on the team in scoring. Crawley had 15 goals and 11 primary assists for the Huskies as a senior and 10 goals and 10 primary assists as a junior. So, there’s a good chance the winger could produce at the next level.
  • Amanda Sabia | Sabia is from Freehold, N.J., and just finished her senior season at Manhattanville (NCAA DIII). Sabia broke out in her junior season with 18 goals after undergoing six knee surgeries in five years. She followed that with a 22-goal senior season, where she averaged north of five shots per game, in 2019–20. Her production at Manhattanville should put her on the Riveters’ radar.
  • Bridgette Prentiss | The Rivs selected Prentiss, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., 21st overall in the 2020 Draft. The captain of the Franklin Pierce University team was immensely productive from the blue line throughout her collegiate career and scored 19 goals and 26 assists in 31 GP as a senior when the Ravens moved to NCAA DI. Prentiss would be a massive addition to the Riveters blue line if she can translate her production to the pro game.
  • Kat Hughes | The co-captain of the Harvard Crimson is a native of New York City, which makes her a free agent the Rivs should be looking into. A true two-way winger, Hughes had 17 primary points in 33 GP in her senior season at Harvard in 2019–20. She finished second on the Crimson in scoring in her sophomore year and third in scoring as a junior. Hughes attended USA Hockey’s Women’s National Team Camp last August. She represents the kind of top-line talent the Riveters would love to add to the mix.

All data courtesy of EliteProspects.com, pick224.com, hockeyeastonline.com, and the author’s own tracking.