The 2021-22 Metropolitan Riveters were a veteran group that fell short of their potential. After going through many changes after the Lake Placid season, the Riveters stepped back onto the ice with a dramatically different blue line, but still had some familiar faces central to the team’s identity, including captain Madison Packer.
how they ended
Record: 7-12-1 (21 points)
PP: 16.3% (3rd)
PC: 86.2% (4th)
What went well
With few exceptions, the Rivs’ best players on paper have had the most impact on the ice. Packer, Russo and Cornine all met high expectations and the Rivs likely got more than they expected from players like Theresa Knutson, Brooke Wolejko and depth defender Rose Alleva.
To be honest, I thought the Rivs were a flawed team from the start. I picked them to finish fifth or sixth because I thought they lost more talent than they brought in the 2021 offseason. They finished fourth and were a better team than I thought thanks to the performance of Wolejko, Barbara and Knutson – who scored five goals at EV.
What went wrong
The lack of depth on the blue line at the start of the year and the lack of depth in scoring haunted the team throughout the year. It’s that simple.
The Rivs just weren’t deep enough to hold their own against the Whale, Pride, and Six most nights. I don’t think the Rivs got as much as they hoped in terms of producing Kelly Babstock or Emily Janiga who were both top six staples and veterans who were central to the identity of the team. I also wonder if the Rivs didn’t give Lenka Čurmová enough chances to make his mark in the team. She was All-Star a few seasons ago and is still only 24 years old.
Best striker | Madison Packer
Packer finished fifth in the league in scoring and was six points ahead of the Rivs’ second-leading scorer (Russo with 17). She was the team’s hardest-hitting forward at even strength and on the power play, although Russo led the league in home runs. I think you can also argue that she’s the hardest hitting forward in the defensive zone – she is, and always has been, great off the puck.
The biggest knock against the Rivs captain this year has been the number of trips she has made to the penalty box as well as the timing of some of those trips. But let’s be real here – Packer is the face of the franchise and, despite all the team’s struggles, she was its best forward and player. She averaged over 4.0 SOG/GP and was the team’s top playmaker. In other words, she was the driving force behind the offense and did an outstanding job in that role finishing with 23 points in 20 GPs.
Madison Packer, are you kidding me? The toe drags to the backhand for the ROOF to beat Katie Burt in overtime. Absolutely dirty. pic.twitter.com/yLvCmfV2g5
—Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) March 6, 2022
Best defender | Kristen Barbara
Feel free to accuse me of being lazy for this, but most of what I want to say about Barbara I’ve already said in our TIG roundtable for the PHF awards:
This may be a controversial choice for some, but I nod to Barbara. She has done everything for the Riveters this season. I’m not sure there was another defender in the league who had as much pressure on them to rise to the occasion as Barbara and she absolutely delivered.
Barbara finished fourth on the team in points and was there in every situation for the Rivs. She was exceptional in her own area and when Kiira Dosdall-Arena returned to the team, she was hands down the best d-pair on the team. He’s a new team veteran that the Rivs should definitely try to bring back for another year.
Top Rookie | nora maclaine
Maclaine got off to a strong start to her first season of PHF hockey, but was unable to maintain the impressive point scoring she established with three points in her first four games. Unfortunately for Maclaine, she went 15 straight games without scoring before picking up the fourth and final point of her rookie season, finishing with 2 goals and 2 assists in 20 GPs.
Interestingly enough, Maclaine was one of two rookies on the entire Rivs squad – the other being Romana Kosecka. Maclaine gets the nod here because she was a strong third line center who averaged just over 1.0 SOG/GP and finished in the green in FO%. She’s definitely not a contender for Rookie/Rookie of the Year, but she’s proven she has the skills to be a solid player in this league after being a dominant player in the AWIHL in 2019- 20 with the Perth Inferno.
MVP | Brooke Wolejko
I think Packer was the team’s best skater but I think Wolejko was their most valuable player. Both players have been incredibly valuable to the team but, in the end, I have to give the goalkeeper the lead.
Packer was the catalyst for the attack, but Wolejko was the player who kept them in games, including some games they didn’t really belong in. Truth be told, Wolejko didn’t get as much credit as she deserved this year for starting the season as a substitute and finishing as a starter with a 0.915 Sv% against an average workload of 34.75 SA60. She squarely dominated Sonjia Shelly – which is nothing against Shelly, that’s just what Wolejko was able to do this year and she did it behind a patchwork blue line. She looked like the sitter who thrilled Whale fans in 2019-20. There is no doubt that she has what it takes to be a true workhorse starter in this league.