An evaluation of the Riveters’ success in Lake Placid is complicated by the fact that the team pulled out of the tournament after only three games due to COVID-19 concerns. That being said, what we did see of the Riveters on the ice was promising — even if some of their off-ice behavior was significantly less than.
Throughout their three games in Lake Placid, the Riveters scored seven goals and allowed four, giving them a season goal differential of +3 and placing them in the middle of the pack of all six teams. That being said, their two wins and one loss don’t give us much to go by in terms of analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, simply because we didn’t get to see much of their performance at all.
Though they didn’t get very many opportunities, what with their shortened stint in Lake Placid, the Riveters’ offense didn’t impress me very much. Through three games, they scored seven goals, with defender Leila Kilduff finishing as the most offensively productive player throughout the course of the tournament with two goals to her name.
I was really impressed by Kendall Cornine, who, through a little over 49 minutes of ice time, generated 11 scoring chances and 13 shots on goal (tied for second among Riveters skaters). The rest of the team’s forwards were somewhat underwhelming in terms of performance. The promised firepower of Babstock, Russo, and Packer seemed ... not quite there.
The Riveters’ defenders, whom I’ll admit I initially doubted a bit heading into the tournament, really came to play in Lake Placid. Through three games, they — in combination with the team’s netminders — allowed only four goals. Despite tallying the fewest total penalty minutes of all the teams in Lake Placid, they also had the most efficient penalty kill in the NWHL (90%).
Kiira Dosdall-Arena, Rebecca Morse, and Kilduff all anchored a particularly young blue line and helped the Riveters become a formidable opponent. Morse alone blocked 11 shots in the three games she played, nearly triple the next highest number of blocks.
In terms of two-way defenders, Dosdall-Arena got the job done, registering a team-high 17 shots and 12 shots on goal. She quickly became one of the most reliable shooters on the power play and, though she’s rostered as a defender, generated a significant portion of the team’s offense.
The duo of Sonjia Shelly and Tera Hofmann shone between the pipes for the Riveters, allowing a combined four goals and making upwards of 100 saves over the course of three games.
It’s unfortunate that we got to see so few minutes from each of these goaltenders, because the minutes we did see — well, we all know there’s a reason Shelly was named one of the game’s stars for both of her starts in net. Shelly was poised, confident, and really showed how much her game has elevated since a somewhat shaky start for the Connecticut Whale last season. Hofmann had a .917 save percentage in the team’s game against those same Whale.
MVP: Sonjia Shelly
Shelly was one of a handful of Riveters who really showed up and showed out during the course of her abbreviated season. From her lights-out shutout of an offensively dominant Toronto Six team to keeping the Minnesota Whitecaps to one goal through 60 minutes, Shelly cemented her spot in Riveters history and served as the backbone of this squad in Lake Placid.
I honestly don’t think the Riveters would have had the record they did in Lake Placid without Shelly. The team’s goaltending was a bit of a question mark heading into the season due to the loss of last year’s all-star net minder Sam Walther, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t too confident about the Riveters’ options in net.
Shelly absolutely proved me wrong — and honestly? I’m not upset about it. She’s earned every ounce of success she’s gotten, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for her.
Data courtesy of NWHL.zone, InStat Hockey, and HerHockeyCounts.com