Riveters return to rink

Small group of players are getting reps in together early.

It’s been a while since the Metropolitan Riveters were last on the ice.

The last time they were all together was early in March when they lost a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker in the NWHL semifinals to the Minnesota Whitecaps. A lot has changed since then, on the team and the world around them. So we decided to check in on them to see what they have been up to recently, as we get closer to the start of informal team skates (set to begin September 21) and then formal practices (October 19).

“Our local players have the option to skate every Tuesday night at our practice facility (in New Jersey),” head coach Ivo Mocek said via text, “and our out-of-state players have been skating on their own.”

“But they all have been following an off-season workout plan designed by the trainers from Parabolic.”

He also added that Meghan Cassidy will likely be back with the team as a volunteer assistant coach, something he expects confirmed by the end of the week. They will be joined behind the bench by former Rivs captain Ashley ‘Stretch’ Johnston, who was added as an assistant coach this off-season.

With a handful of new additions to the Rivs (there may be one or two more), the extended training camp before the start of Season 6 in January 2021 will be valuable for them to gel and re-establish their identity as one of the hardest-working teams in the NWHL.

“I’ve skated with Packer, Hutch, Kenny [Kendall Cornine], and Sonjia over the last couple of weeks. Prior to that, I hadn’t seen most of my teammates since our last game in March, so it was nice to get back on the ice with some of them and catch up,” defender Rebecca Morse told us this past weekend.

“Packer, Hutch, and I have been in touch regularly this off-season, but all of our communication had been virtual. The second I saw these familiar faces, it instantly put a smile on my face. Skating for the first time in a while is always exciting, but nothing beats getting back on the ice with your teammates. It was the reunion I think we all needed,” added the 28-year-old who will be entering her fifth season with the Riveters/NWHL.

“As a veteran defender, it has been important for me to develop a good relationship with my goaltenders. I’m getting to know Sonjia on and of the ice, which has been a great experience. I already know where to shoot on her thanks to [New Jersey native] Kayla Meneghin, whom I’ve also skated with recently.” Menghin recently signed with the Buffalo Beauts after two seasons with the Connecticut Whale.

So what is different now with all of the new protocols to make sure everyone can stay healthy?

“Getting dressed in the parking lot has definitely been different, but as hockey players, it is something that most of us have had to do at some point in our careers,” explained Morse. “It took me back to my house league days when my brother and I would get dressed at home or on the way to the rink. We used to race to see who could get dressed faster, so there’s a way to have fun with it for sure.”

“At the end of the day, I’ve just been happy to get back on the ice with my Rivs family - regardless of the circumstances as long as it’s being done safely. We’re trying to focus on the positives right now, like having additional ice and bonding time before games start in January.”

The Riveters currently have signed 19 players for the upcoming season, six of whom will be looking to make their NWHL debuts.