There is a lot to reflect on and dissect after a wild first weekend of PHF hockey. One of the best hockey stories that emerged from the action was Metropolitan Riveters defender Rose Alleva picking up three assists in her second game with her second PHF (NWHL) team.
Prior to joining the Riveters’ training camp this summer, Rose Alleva spent two seasons as a depth defender on the Minnesota Whitecaps. In 21 career games with Minnesota, Alleva had 14 shots on goal and a single point — an assist. She was in and out of the lineup. A spare part who was frequently overlooked and underutilized despite being a standout player at Princeton and having two seasons of pro hockey under her belt from her time playing in China in the CWHL.
Alleva was in the Riveters camp on a PTO and, the day before the 2021-22 season began, The Ice Garden’s Dan Rice confirmed that she had signed with the team. Alleva had to earn her spot the hard way despite the fact that the Riveters were — and one could argue still are — in desperate need of defenders. Gone from last year’s blue line are Saroya Tinker, Rebecca Morse, Kiira Dosdall-Arena, and Sammy Kolowrat. The only holdovers were Leila Kilduff and Allie Olnowich, which left a vacuum that the Rivs had to fill. Before Alleva signed, the Rivs had just five defenders signed and Jordan Sanislo, who was also in training camp on a PTO, practicing with the team.
That thin blue line was stretched down to a whisker this weekend with Lenka Čurmová away from the team on international duty and Leila Kilduff — a top-pair blueliner — out with an upper-body injury. The Rivs brought-in Colleen Murphy at the last minute on a PTO, but the blue line was down to five bodies for the first two games of the season.
And that set the stage for Alleva to shine on a pairing with Kristen Barbara.
On Saturday, Alleva stood out for her steady play in a nasty, chaotic game filled with penalties and many skaters showing signs of rust. She finished with two blocks and three takeaways in a 4-1 win. Her performance was nothing to write home about but it was exactly what the Riveters needed from her. Sunday was a different story.
Alleva shined in the Riveters' second game. She was making great reads and jumping up into the offense to make plays and create chances. She looked like the player who showed so much promise back in her senior year at Princeton in 2013-14.
In the first period, Alleva took a slap shot that squeaked through the pads of Mariah Fujimagari that resulted in a tornado of sticks in the crease. After much hacking and whacking, Nora Maclaine had stashed in her first PHF goal and Alleva had her first assist with the Riveters. She wasn’t done.
Later in the first, Alleva stabbed out her stick to break up a pass in the defensive zone. The loose puck was scooped up by Rebecca Russo, who flew up the ice and dished it to Kendall Cornine for her first of the year. And, just like that, Alleva had two assists in under 15 minutes.
Alleva added another helper on Madison Packer’s goal in the second period, which she helped to create by executing a beautiful pinch to create a turnover. It was a savvy play by a veteran player that led to a 3-0 lead — of course, the Riveters eventually let that lead slip away. She finished the game with an iKSt (individual Steady) of five, with two shots on goal to go with her three assists.
🚨 RIVETERS GOAL! 🚨— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) November 7, 2021
Rose Alleva throws the puck on net and Packer backhands it in to extend the Riveters' lead.
Riveters 3 - 0 Whale pic.twitter.com/nVhprY6elV
It’s not often we feature on the performance of a single player in a losing effort, but Alleva’s big weekend was worth dissecting. There’s a chance that it could foreshadow a big role for her on a Rivs’ blue line that will be under a lot of pressure to produce. Alleva showed flashes of being a defender who can go on the attack and help tilt the ice when the Riveters establish their forecheck. Heading into the 2021-22 season, it felt like that may have been a missing element from the blue line.
Maybe all Alleva needed was another chance to prove that she’s capable of being much more than a spare part.
Note: the stats in this story were personally tracked by the author and taken from premierhockeyfederation.com.