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2021-22 PHF Season Preview: Metropolitan Riveters

Can the Riveters become the 2nd franchise to win two Cups? Did they make enough changes, or too many?

Michelle Jay

2021 Training Camp Roster

Forward: Madison Packer (C), Emily Janiga, Kendall Cornine, Kelly Babstock, Rebecca Russo, Brooke Avery, Mallory Rushton, Theresa Knutson, Haley Frade, *Maeve Reilly, Nora MacLaine, Romana Kosecka
Defense: Leila Kilduff, Allie Olnowich, Rachael Ade, Lenka Curmova, *Rose Alleva, Kristen Barbara, *Jordan Sanislo
Goalie: Sonjia Shelly, Brooke Wolejko, **Cassandra Goyette.

* = players in camp on tryouts
** = practice player
C = captain

General Manager: Anya Packer (1st season)
Head Coach: Ivo Mocek (3rd season) 12-12-3 regular-season record, 0-1 postseason
Associate Head Coach: Kelly Nash (1st season)

Lake Placid

The Metropolitan Riveters were the first team affected by a covid outbreak in Season 6 and finished their brief regular season with a 2-1-0 record when they withdrew from the Lake Placid wannabe bubble season. The Rivs recorded triumphs over the Toronto Six (3-0), and the Connecticut Whale (4-3) on back-to-back days, before losing to the Minnesota Whitecaps (1-0) on a goal with ten seconds left in regulation two days later.

New Faces

Former Connecticut goaltenders Brooke Wolejko and Cassandra Goyette (practice squad) join Sonjia Shelly in the crease as the Riveters have completely recreated the Whale goaltending trio from Season 5.

Pat McCarthy/The Ice Garden

Four of their new defenders this season played for four different PHF teams last season: Kristen Barbara (Toronto), Lenka Čurmová (Buffalo), Rachael Ade (Connecticut), Rose Alleva (Minnesota).

The other new blueliner is Whippany, New Jersey native Jordan Sanislo, the Riveters’ 4th Round pick (23rd overall) in the 2021 Draft. Sanislo was a co-captain at Sacred Heart University during her final season and played 108 games during her collegiate career.

New forwards include UConn product Nora MacLaine and Maeve Reilly (who played sparingly with the Whale), as well as Haley Frade (played for Rivs in Season 5), and Romana Kosecka (Rivs selection in International Draft).

Left For Other Places

Goaltender Tera Hofmann signed with the Toronto Six this offseason, as did defender Saroya Tinker. Both players were drafted in the 2020 Draft by the Rivs, Hofmann appeared in one game while Tinker played in three.

Defender Samantha Fieseler signed with the Buffalo Beauts. She was signed to play for Season 6 but never played a game for the Riveters.

Defender Rebecca Morse and forward Cailey Hutchison signed with the Connecticut Whale. Morse played five seasons for the Rivs and was an alternate captain the past two seasons. She appeared in 58 games - third-most in franchise history. Hutchison was drafted 21st overall in 2018 and played 27 games for the Riveters, finishing with 12 points (4g-8a).

Spotlight Addition

Čurmová joins the rebuilt Riveters blueline and if she can rediscover her game from Season 5 it would be a big boost to their backend. She is the sixth player to join the Rivs after playing for the Beauts (Tatiana Rafter, Harrison Browne, Kristin Lewicki, Kimberly Sass, Emily Janiga). S/t to @Tiedes59 for that nugget!

The 2020 All-Star defender was the first Slovakian to score a goal in NWHL/PHF history and in Čurmová’s lone full season, she finished fourth in blocked shots (23). After only one assist in six games at Lake Placid, she should be excited for a clean slate with a new team. We’d be shocked if she wasn’t a minutes muncher for the Rivs this season, playing in all situations and heavily relied upon by the coaching staff.

Rookie Radar

The Riveters don’t have many rookies in camp, but one name to keep an eye on is a New Jersey native, defender Jordan Sanislo. Despite attending a tryout camp in early June and being drafted in late June, Sanislo was announced as being invited to training camp on a PTO (professional tryout). Clearly, there is some interest in the player.

She played for four years at Sacred Heart University and was an alternate captain as a junior as well as co-captain as a senior. Prior to that, Sanislo played for the NJ Colonials, a program with many current and past ties to the Riveters franchise. It would be kinda neat for the current players in the Colonials program to see her skate with the pros this upcoming season. Fellow rookie and Connecticut Whale draft pick Emma Polaski is also a product of that program.

How They Win the Cup

The goaltending duo of Wolejko and Shelly show us that their win-loss totals from Season 5 in Connecticut were a complete aberration and they steal games. The defense looks like a well-oiled machine that has been a unit for years, and everyone plays to their potential. Kilduff was their leading scorer last season (obviously small sample size), and she + Čurmová need to be leaders at both ends of the ice.

Russo and Cornine finding their scoring touches are to be expected perhaps, but the Rivs will really be able to create havoc for their opponents if they can get secondary scoring from players like Rushton, Knutson, and Janiga. We all expect Packer will be Packer, right? If Babstock can find her scoring touch from her Connecticut days, the Riveters may just outscore everyone right to the Cup Final.

How They Lose the Cup

The goaltending duo of Wolejko and Shelly show us that their loss totals from Season 5 in Connecticut were not an aberration and explains why the Whale had no problem letting either player leave via free agency. The defense looks like a group that was thrown together this summer and spends more time catching up to attacking forwards than defending in front of them.

As two of the older players in the league, Packer (who was pointless last season, again small sample size) and Babstock start to look a step slow in a league that now has an influx of younger, faster players. It would also be bad news if they are a one-line team as far as scoring goes - a la Season 5 at times - and there is no depth scoring, allowing opponents to focus on stopping one line rather than three or four.