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Kendall Cornine: the Riveters quiet star

Cornine is among the most dangerous centers in the PHF

Metropolitan Riveters forward Kendall Cornine during a PHF game in Boston on Jan. 23, 2022.
Michelle Jay

Kendall Cornine is in her third season of PHF hockey with the Metropolitan Riveters. After establishing herself as a goal scorer at the collegiate level with RIT, there’s now little doubt that she’s done the same at the pro level. After scoring 13 goals in her rookie season, Cornine finished her 2021-22 campaign with 10 goals in 20 GP.

Goal-scoring centers are a somewhat rare commodity in hockey. We often see centers pile up assists and fall into the archetype of playmakers because they touch the puck so often. That is not the case for Cornine. She is a sniper, through and through.

Something that sets Cornine apart is her ability to create a shooting lane for herself in one-on-one situations against defenders at even strength. With a deft toe-drag, she can create just enough separation to shoot past a defender or through their legs in the hopes of catching a goalie off guard or, at times, just to create a rebound that her linemates Theresa Knutson and Kelly Babstock can hunt down.

“I’m just trying to open up a lane to get a puck on net, whether that’s to create a rebound or if I see the shot,” Cornine told The Ice Garden. “I’m always trying to get as much offense going as possible and that means getting pucks on net.”

Through 18 GP this season, Cornine is averaging 3.95 SOG/GP. That puts her in the company of other high-volume shooting centers in the PHF like Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Shiann Darkangelo, and Kennedy Marchment — that’s not bad company to have. The only Riveter in the same neighborhood as Cornine’s shooting rate this year is team captain and top-line winger Madison Packer, who led the team with 12 goals in the regular season — Cornine was just behind her at 10.

Early in the 2021-22 season, the Riveters offense was too dependent on its top line to create offense, especially the duo of Packer and Rebecca Russo. Over the last few months, a true second scoring line emerged with Cornine as its keystone. As a result, the Riveters’ offense found another dimension at evens, which is a big reason why the Riveters finished the season 5-6-0 in their last 11 GP after starting the season 2-6-1.

“TK [Theresa Knutson], Kenny [Cornine], and Babs [Kelly Babstock], they just keep things simple,” head coach Ivo Mocek told The Ice Garden after last Saturday’s game against the Pride. “Sometimes they find those lanes and shoot pucks and that’s how you create offense, right?”

In the Rivs’ Mar 5-6 series against Boston, Cornine (and the rest of the Riveters) were kept out of the box score, but it wasn’t because the chances weren’t there. She had 11 shots in the weekend, including 9 on that Saturday. That marked the second time this year that Cornine had a 9-shot game against the best blue line in the PHF. On Jan. 23, 2022, she had 9 shots in a two-goal game that lifted the Riveters past the Pride in a 4-2 win. But there’s more to Cornine’s game than just rifling shots on net whenever she sees daylight.

Cornine drives play for her line at evens and is an adept puck carrier — she’s swifter than her more bruising linemates, Knutson and Babstock. Her wingers have plenty of skill, but Cornine opts for finesse over ferocity and force of will and that shows on the PP as well. She’s picked up three of her 10 goals this season as the triggerwoman on the advantage and is the main weapon of the Rivs’ second PP unit. She’s a true force in the offensive zone despite her small frame.

If the PHF All-Stars were named in March instead of January, there’s no doubt that Cornine would be selected. And there is definitely a case to be made that she should have picked back in January. With the Rivs season now over, she finished third on the team in scoring (16) behind Packer (23) and Russo (17). She is just one of six skaters in the league to score at least 10 goals this year with only one weekend left in the 2021-22 regular season.

Much like Minnesota’s Jonna Curtis, Cornine is something of a quiet star. Despite scoring highlight-reel goals for her home state Rivs, she doesn’t get nearly as much attention for her play as she deserves. Maybe that’s because she’s soft-spoken and quick to deflect praise on a team filled with big personalities. Maybe it’s because she’s not on the Packer line. Whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt that Cornine is one of the best centers in the league. She represents a bright future for the Rivs down the middle and will be a key player for them in their playoff showdown with the Whitecaps.

Data courtesy of the PHF, EliteProspects.com, and the author’s own tracking.