On August 12 the Metropolitan Riveters made two big announcements – first naming the third head coach in franchise history, Ivo Mocek, and then coming to terms with the sixth overall pick from the 2018 NWHL Draft, forward Kendall Cornine from RIT who has local ties to the area.
Mocek succeeds Randy Velischek who lasted only one season (4-12-0) as the Riveters bench boss following Chad Wiseman’s (25-22-5) departure for a job closer to home in the OHL with the Guelph Storm after the Riveters captured the 2018 Isobel Cup.
Cornine is the second Riveters draftee to sign with the team for the upcoming season joining fellow forward Cailey Hutchinson. Both players have ties to the area with Hutchinson being from Long Island and Cornine hailing from Kinnelon, New Jersey. This is only the second time that the Rivs have signed multiple players from a draft class with the other occurrence coming following the 2016 NWHL Draft (Kelsey Koelzer, Jenny Ryan).
A New Voice
“I met with a lot of strong candidates, but Ivo’s passion for hockey, his knowledge of the game, and his commitment stood above the rest,” said Riveters GM Kate Whitman Annis announcing the hire. “I liked his philosophy on team-building, and I was really impressed by his vision for our club. After he accepted the position I had him speak individually with some of our players. Those conversations and the reaction of the players to him was even more proof to me that Ivo is the ideal person to lead the Riveters,” she added.
Mocek is a native of the Czech Republic and in addition to being the new Rivs bench boss, he also coaches privately at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. “Our team will be relentless, organized, and prepared, and we are determined to recapture the winning mentality of the Riveters when this team won the Isobel Cup,” said Mocek in the press release announcing his hire.
“I love this game so much, and my respect for these players is enormous, being a big fam of the NWHL since day one” he added. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to get on the ice in a few weeks and get to work with the Riveters. I promise you – we will be a team that will make our fans proud.”
The longest-standing Riveter and (for now) the lone player still with the franchise from season one, Madison Packer was one of the players Mocek spoke with and she sounds excited to get to work with her new coach. “I was immediately blown away by Ivo’s energy and his plans for our team. He is a knowledgeable guy with a great philosophy on how to operate a team,” said the All-Star forward.
“He will have an immediate impact on the culture of the organization, and he’ll be able to make a real difference as our team continues to rebuild this off-season. He believes in accountability and camaraderie. I’m really excited to suit up for him this season.”
Cornine Comes Home
With what will likely be a different-looking roster the addition of Cornine could be huge as she was a scoring star at RIT, leading the team in scoring in each of her last three seasons and finished her collegiate career with 64 points (38g-26a). She is the school’s all-time leading scorer at the Division I level and also served as the team’s captain for two seasons.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to further my playing career in the NWHL,” Cornine said in the press release abounding her signing. “It’s an amazing privilege to be able to continue to play and help grow the game. I can’t wait to get the season started for the Riveters!”
Cornine is also the head coach of the New Jersey Colonials u12 Girls Team and the strength and conditioning coach for the Colonials organization. She set the New Jersey High School all-time scoring record with 199 points (104g-95a) and in 2015 she was named the New Jersey Girls’ High School Player of the Year. She was also named the New Jersey Devils High School Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015.
“The signing of Kendall Cornine is a huge boost to our team,” said Whitman Annis. “She is going to make a big difference for us, especially on the power play. And we love the leadership she brings as a two-year captain at RIT.”
Here is what the Riveters roster currently looks like on August 12:
Defense: Colleen Murphy
Forward: Madison Packer, Cailey Hutchinson, Rebecca Morse, Kendall Cornine
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up-to-date on Buffalo and Boston’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and the Riveters. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
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.