Having already re-signed three players from last season’s team the Metropolitan Riveters continued reassembling their roster for the upcoming season on April 14 when they revealed that three additional players will be returning for the NWHL’s sixth season.
The team announced that forwards Cailey Hutchison and Mallory Rushton, and defender Leila Kilduff will all be coming back for their second season with the franchise after each of them played key roles with the Riveters throughout their just-completed season.
In the Hutch
Hutchison was named an alternate captain for the Rivs before she ever played a game with the team. Over 24 games last season she had 11 points (3g-8a) and was a force in the face-off dot for the team with a winning percentage of .513 (249-236). The 23-year-old also played in the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game.
She was drafted by the team (21st overall/2018 NWHL Draft) after her collegiate career at the University of Maine. Hutchison was as dependable as any player on the roster, with great compete level and hockey sense, and that showed in how she was deployed by Head Coach Ivo Mocek over the course of the season.
“You won’t find a harder-working player that Hutch. It says a lot about her that it was her first season in the league and our players picked her as one of the captains,” said Mocek in the press release announcing the signings. “Hutch’s work ethic and attitude are inspiring to her teammates, and I know that I can send her on the ice at any time and situation during a game. She was our most-reliable penalty-killer.”
Defense Never Rests
Kilduff battled a lower-body injury early in the season (missing two games) and finished the season as the team leader in blocked shots (27) in addition to chipping in five points (4g-1a) over 22 games.
All four of her goals came within the Riveters’ final six regular-season games and she added another three blocked shots in their lone playoff game.
“Leila was the most improved player on our team over the course of last season,” said Mocek. “She worked her way up the lineup, ending up on the top D-pair with Rebecca Morse. You could see her confidence growing with every game, she was very solid defensively and scored some big goals for us.”
With 13 points (1g-12a) in 24 games, Rushton finished fourth on the Riveters in scoring and her 12 assists ranked second on the team. Like Hutchison, she was able to play in all situations for the team last season and often was working on the point during power plays; Rushton has experience playing both defense and forward.
“I can give Mal any role (on the team) because she’s so versatile. She brings a lot of creativity and I believe next season will be her breakthrough year, now that she’s gotten used to the league and pace,” Mocek said.
“Looking back on the season I had with the Rivs and how close of a group that we had, the culture we created, there is no other team that I would want to play for honestly,” said Rushton. “My experience this year was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates, a better coaching staff, and support staff too. All-around with the Riveters organization, everything was top-notch, and I appreciate the fan support we had too!”
Rivs Rolling Through the Off-Season
With Hutchison, Kilduff, and Rushton rejoining Morse, Madison Packer, and Kendall Cornine, the Riveters currently have the most rostered players for next season. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but we also suspect that Kate Whitman Annis will be returning as the franchise’s GM and that Mocek will be returning as coach.
“In the future, maybe next season, the Riveters will have an even better chance to make it to the Cup Final,” said Rushton. “They’ll be there because of Coach Ivo’s coaching skills and his passion for the game.”
It would appear that the Rivs will have a roster very similar to last season’s and if that’s the case it will be interesting to see how they are able to improve upon the momentum that they built, coming within one goal of advancing to the Isobel Cup Final.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.