Today, the Metropolitan Riveters announced their training camp lineup ahead of the 2021-22 season. As you might expect, there’s a lot to tear from today’s outing – culminating in veteran All-Star forward Kelly Babstock returning for a second season with the Riveters and his 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 *
Goalkeepers: Brooke Wolejko, Sonjia Shelly, Cassandra Goyette **
* for testing
** training team
Prior to this release, there had been no announcements that Babstock would be back.
Of course, the return of players who have close relationships with some notoriously problematic sports figures raises more questions about exactly what the Riveters are doing behind closed doors to truly build the inclusive culture they speak of in public.
Responsibility is something we’ve heard a lot about from the new Riveters leadership group from Lake Placid. In a recent episode of The Ice Garden’s Locker Room Talk, General Manager Anya Packer spoke about this and more. After Lake Placid, Captain Madison Packer took responsibility for all the actions of her teammates that hurt or offended fans. Obviously, it is in the minds of the management group.
The Riveters now have 18 players under contract – 11 forwards, five defensemen and two goalkeepers. On paper, the Riveters’ offense should be very similar to what we’ve seen in Lake Placid aside from the remarkable departure of 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 statement. “Each year the league improves a bit and the bar is raised. This year is no different. Our team has a lot of speed, a lot of skill and kids who can really shoot the puck. We have a great group of athletes in the hall who are also great people outside the rink. I am delighted to be going to work with everyone and looking forward to learning from the players around me and doing a deep race.
The good news for the Riveters is that their returning veterans have the skills to take on bigger roles on offense. The same can be said of Theresa Knutson, who was impressive at Lake Placid.
Riveters too announcement that Tatiana Shatalova chose to play in Russia for Belye Medveditsy, with whom she signed during the offseason on July 3, instead of the Riveters, who announced her re-signing on September 13.
The other big story here is the Riveters blue line, which only has two returning players 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 defenseman at Lake Placid, will be missed. The Rivs will be counting on veterans new to the squad – Kristen Barbara, Lenka Čurmová and Rachael Ade – to bring stability to a blue line that’s going through many changes.
In the camp on a trial basis are two players with PHF experience and potential rookie Jordan Sanislo, the Riveters’ fourth-round pick in the 2021 Sacred Heart University Draft. Sanislo will compete for a place on the roster with forward Maeve Reilly, who last played in Connecticut with the Whale, and Rose Alleva, a veteran defenseman who last played for the Whitecaps of Minnesota.
From the outside, I like Alleva’s chances. Now 29, she has a lot of experience in PHF and LCHF in China and she stood out in Princeton. I never felt like she had a good shake or enough ice time in Minnesota. Having said that, I wouldn’t cancel Sanislo’s chances. She was a captain at the Sacred Heart and looked solid at the Rivs free agent camp in June.
Another note from the press release is that Cassandra Goyette will be the goalkeeper for the practice team. We also learned that the Riveters’ coaching staff will consist of head coach Ivo Mocek, returning for his third season with the team, and new associate head coach Kelly Nash, who has played 24 games in regular season with the Rivs over three seasons. Former captain Ashley Johnston, who was an assistant coach at Lake Placid, was not on the coaching list.