The Metropolitan Riveters returned to their former home rink, the Barnabas Health Hockey House, on Sunday for a free agent camp featuring 15 skaters and four goaltenders. Head coach and Director of Player Development Ivo Mocek and former Riveters captain Shelly Picard were on the ice running drills for a group that included four players from the team’s roster in Lake Placid — Madison Packer, Rebecca Morse, Allie Olnowich, and Brooke Avery.
After speaking with General Manager Anya Packer and Mocek it’s clear that big changes are coming to the Riveters on and off the ice. The Riveters’ general manager told members of the media that the team has players signed but is waiting to roll out a few big announcements first. One of those announcements will be the addition of a head scout, which Packer is excited about.
Packer also revealed that the team is looking for a handful of players — amounting to two lines or a line and a half — to fill out the roster for the upcoming season. We already know that the Riveters have lost Tatiana Shatalova and Sammy Kolowrat from last year’s squad. Both have signed with clubs overseas.
“We have some players signed already that haven’t been announced yet,” Mocek told members of the media after camp. “Today, what I was looking for was more, I want to say, a depth situation. Players who can fit into our style of play and mentality and culture we’re creating here and help us have four solid lines like we had last season.”
Forwards: Madison Packer, Hayley Williams, Courtney Turner, Brooke Avery, Nora MacLaine, Alexa Aramburu, Romana Košecká, Haley Frade
Defenders: Rebecca Morse, Carrie Atkinson, Jordan Sanislo, Iveta Klimášová, Meg Delay, Allie Olnowich, Kayla Meneghin
Goalies: Sonjia Shelly, Tera Hofmann, Cassandra Goyette, Jessica Strack
As expected, there were several players at the Riveters camp that skated at the Whale camp on Saturday. However, it’s interesting to note those who were unique to Sunday’s camp, including Jordan Sanislo of Sacred Heart University, Nora MacLaine, and former Whale and Beaut Kayla Meneghin.
Sanislo, a defender, is a New Jersey native and former captain at Sacred Heart University who blocked a lot of shots during her collegiate career. She also spent a few seasons playing with Jayne Lewis, who should definitely be a player the Riveters ask to come back for another season if she’s available. Sanislo could be a player the Riveters are considering to select in the 2021 Draft.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one already but Hayley Williams looked really great in an NWHL free agent camp. Williams was just as eye-catching as she was in Saturday’s Whale free agent camp and shined for Team Red in the scrimmage playing both forward and defense. She scored a big goal in the scrimmage and was just as sharp in the drills.
Hayley Williams with the finish. pic.twitter.com/6LkOSZzh9Z— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) June 13, 2021
Unsurprisingly, the other forward who really stood out from the group was Riveters captain Madison Packer. Even though she was playing with a broken finger, Packer was in top gear in every drill and in the scrimmage where she suited up for Team Red. She scored in the scrimmage and provided valuable context for how some of the new faces in camp measured up.
“You have to have a measuring stick,” Anya Packer told members of the media after the camp. “I think it’s really important to have those returning players so you know where they fit, you know if someone’s a lower-third on your team and it’s great to see if that person rises above or falls below. I always think that a measuring stick is important, so that’s why we bring out some returners and let them play. We try to figure out where those returners fit if we’re continuing to keep them on.”
Rebecca Morse, who has been with the Riveters for half a decade, looked just as good as she did in the Whale free agent camp. Morse excelled in the one-on-one drills and showed off her heavy shot in the drills and in the scrimmage, where she played for Team Navy. She was, by far, the most impressive defender in camp.
NWHL veteran Kayla Meneghin also had a good showing and was listed as a defender. The 5-foot-4 Meneghin is a great skater who has been productive as a forward on low-scoring Whale in the past. It will be interesting to see if finds a new home with the Riveters. Iveta Klimášová was also in camp trying out as a defender. She looked strong on the puck and hit a crossbar in the scrimmage but simply didn’t look as quick as others in camp.
Kayla Meneghin from Moose and Turner in the scrimmage. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/kCR2Xiusmm— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) June 13, 2021
All four goalies in camp played well but I felt like Hofmann and Shelly were the top of the crop. Shelly looked confident and steady between the pipes and Hofmann made all the saves she was supposed to make in the scrimmage and in drills facing breakaways. They were both with the Riveters last season and had great numbers, although Hofmann just had one start. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both back with the Rivs next season.
The Riveters we see on the ice next season will be a team built piece-by-piece by Mocek. It sounds like he has the full support of his general manager and the Riveters’ new owner, John Boynton, to find the players that fit his vision.
“First of all, I think it just makes things way easier, having just one person to focus on the player side of the business and we have Anya focusing on other things which are not my forte,” Mocek told The Ice Garden. “I think it makes things easier and over the last two seasons I’ve been in this league and with this team — I know what I want from the players with this team. I know what the market offers, to put it that way. I know what we can do and what we can offer.”
It also sounds like Mocek is going to miss Sammy Kolowrat a lot. She saw first pairing minutes in lake Placid and exceeded everyone on the team’s expectations, including his. With that said, Mocek feels confident that the Rivs will be able to replace some of what she brought to the team with some of the signings that the team will be announced soon.
Emily Janiga and Kendall Cornine, both with the team in Lake Placid, were in attendance at camp but watched the action from the bleachers. Both are safe bets to be back with the team for the 2021-22 campaign. But it feels like Mocek is hinting at a new face or two that could be joining the mix.
So, where will Mocek’s Riveters play? Well, it sounds like a return to the New Jersey Devils’ practice rink is very much a possibility. Anya Packer revealed that a potential return is going in a positive direction but it sounds like the Riveters are considering a few options.