The Metropolitan Riveters have done some serious work this offseason, acquiring pieces that can bring them back to Isobel Cup contention. After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in March, the team changed their dynamic by bringing back influential former players as well as fresh young talent to rebuild a championship team.
There are five big similarities between this team and the Rivs’ 2018 Isobel Cup champions team. They are Madison Packer, Rebecca “Moose” Morse, Kiira Dosdall-Arena, Ashley Johnston and Rebecca Russo. These five, all veteran Rivs with years of experience, are back together for another run at the championship.
Johnston’s New Role
As the first captain of the franchise, Johnston knows what it means to be a Riveter. She came out of retirement in the midst of the 2019-20 season and hung up her player skates at the end of that year. This year, she has joined the Rivs coaching staff as an assistant alongside head coach Ivo Mocek.
Her new role with the team brings many positives to the table, as she shares her personal experiences with the younger players and helps lead them to success. After all, she used to be in their place. A familiar face on the bench is also a big positive, and new defensemen like first-round pick Saroya Tinker will especially benefit, as Johnston knows the Rivs defense well.
The Captain’s Impact
Packer has proven herself to be one of the best to come through the National Women’s Hockey League. She is a five-year veteran with the Rivs and continues to deliver, whether through scoring points or her incredible drive. Alongside linemate and fellow All-Star forward Kate Leary, she tallied 13 goals and 21 assists last season, leading the Rivs in points.
Packer continues to lead this group, and now that some of her teammates have returned, she has that extra push to succeed.
Influence of Morse, Dosdall-Arena and Russo
All three of these Rivs have made a significant impact in their own ways. Morse continues to be the team’s top offensive defender, leading the defense with four goals and seven assists. She is also a strong leader on the team, always pushing her teammates and being a force on and off the ice. Her signing for a fifth season is an important one, giving the Rivs the stability they need.
Dosdall-Arena is another five-year veteran who will help to solidify this team. She is second all-time in points among Rivs defenders (25) and another important piece to this puzzle. Her veteran mindset alongside Morse’s will help create an impenetrable defense.
Russo is the latest addition, re-signing with the team in September after a one-year hiatus. Her speed can combine with the younger talent like sophomore All-Star forward Kendall Cornine, making the Rivs offense hard to stop. As this will be Russo’s fourth season with the team, she also has that experience to bring the team to new heights. The team needs more scoring in order to consistently deliver wins. Russo’s 41 points in three years can serve as the mark that all players aspire to eclipse.
Bringing It All Together
With Packer and Russo on the front line, Dosdall-Arena and Morse creating a tight defense behind the circles and Johnston shooting strategy from the bench, it will be surprising if the Rivs are not unstoppable this season.
The components are there, but the big push will come from these championship players. Packer, Morse, Dosdall-Arena, Johnston and Russo all being on the Rivs together again brings back those memories of hoisting the Isobel Cup, itching to do it all over again.
This new team has all they need — an offense that creates more scoring chances, a powerful defense that keeps the puck in the offensive zone, young and fresh goaltending, and, most importantly, that bond of a championship team. These five women bring that winning spirit to this new, promising team three years later.