Today, the Metropolitan Riveters announced their training camp roster ahead of the 2021-22 season. As you might expect, there is a lot to break down from today’s release — the highlight of which is veteran All-Star forward Kelly Babstock returning for a second season with the Riveters and her sixth in the league.
Forwards: Theresa Knutson, Emily Janiga, Nora Maclaine, Kelly Babstock, Kendall Cornine, Madison Packer, Brooke Avery, Rebecca Russo, Romana Košecká, Mallory Rushton,Haley Frade, Maeve Reilly*
Defenders: Leila Kilduff, Rachael Ade, Allie Olnowich, Kristen Barbara, Lenka Čurmová, Rose Alleva*, Jordan Sanislo*
Goalies: Brooke Wolejko, Sonjia Shelly, Cassandra Goyette**
* on a tryout
** practice squad
Prior to this release, there had been no announcement that Babstock would be back.
Of course, the return of players who have a close relationship with certain notoriously problematic sports personalities raises more questions about what, exactly, the Riveters are doing behind closed doors to truly build the inclusive culture they talk about in the public.
Accountability is something we have heard the Riveters’ new leadership group talk about a lot since Lake Placid. In a recent episode of The Ice Garden’s Locker Room Talk, general manager Anya Packer spoke about this and much more. After Lake Placid, captain Madison Packer took accountability for any actions made by her teammates that hurt or offended fans. Clearly, this is on the minds of the leadership group.
The Riveters now have 18 players under contract — 11 forwards, five defenders, and two goaltenders. On paper, the Riveters’ attack should be very similar to what we saw in Lake Placid outside of the noteworthy departure of the exceptionally productive Kate Leary.
“I have a little extra fuel for the fire after the way things ended last season,” Madison Packer said in the team’s release. “Every year the league gets a little better, and the bar is raised. This year is no different. Our team has lots of speed, lots of skill, and some kids who can really shoot the puck. We have a tremendous group of athletes in the room who are also great people away from the rink. I am excited to go to work with all, and I’m looking forward to learning from the players around me and making a deep run.”
The good news for the Riveters is that their returning veterans have the skill to step into larger roles on the attack. The same can be said of Theresa Knutson, who was impressive in Lake Placid.
The Riveters also announced that Tatiana Shatalova has opted to play in Russia for Belye Medveditsy, who she signed with during the offseason on July 3, instead of the Riveters, who announced her re-signing on Sept. 13.
The other big storyline here is the Riveters blue line, which has just two players returning from the Lake Placid roster — Leila Kilduff and Allie Olnowich. The veteran presence of Kiira Dosdall-Arena, who may have been the team’s best defender in Lake Placid, will be missed. The Rivs will be counting on some veterans who are new to the team — Kristen Barbara, Lenka Čurmová, and Rachael Ade — to provide stability to a blue line that is going through a lot of changes.
In camp on a tryout basis are two players with PHF experience and potential rookie Jordan Sanislo, the Riveters’ fourth-round pick from the 2021 Draft from Sacred Heart University. Sanislo will be competing for a roster spot with forward Maeve Reilly, who last played in Connecticut with the Whale, and Rose Alleva, a veteran defender who last played with the Minnesota Whitecaps.
From the outside looking in, I like Alleva’s chances. Now 29, she has a lot of experience in the PHF and in the CWHL playing in China and she was a standout at Princeton. I never felt like she got a fair shake or enough ice time in Minnesota. With that said, I wouldn’t write off Sanislo’s chances. She was a captain at Sacred Heart and looked solid at the Rivs’ free agent camp in June.
Another note from the release is that Cassandra Goyette will be the team’s practice squad goaltender. We also learned that the Riveters coaching staff will consist of head coach Ivo Mocek, back for his third season with the team, and new associate head coach Kelly Nash, who played 24 career regular season games with the Rivs across three seasons. Former captain Ashley Johnston, who was an assistant coach in Lake Placid, was not listed on the coaching staff.