Record: 11-13-0, 30 points
Final Standings: 5th overall (of 7)
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Ownership: BTM Partners
Head Coach: Venla Hovi
General Manager: Tori Charron
Leading Scorer: Kelly Babstock – 21 points (10G, 11A) in 24 games
Top Goalie: Katie Burt, 5-5-0, .903 sv% and 2.78 GAA
The Riveters saw a lot of turnover in their roster from the 2021-22 season to this past season. Only three players remained: captain Madison Packer, Kelly Babstock, and Kendall Cornine. Packer and Babstock were once again some of the leading scorers, while Cornine saw a bit of an offensive drop-off from last season to this one. With that level of turnover, and so many newcomers, it seems par for the course that the Riveters finished fifth in PHF standings.
The Riveters also had a lot of players who were completely new to the PHF, but they seemed to settle in nicely. Sarah Bujold finished the season with 20 points (10G, 10A) and was third on the team in scoring. Minttu Tuominen was incredibly entertaining to watch; she was one of the team's best rookies and put up 14 points from the backend. The Hungarian national team's Fanni Garát-Gasparics, another player I was excited to see in North America, recorded 14 points in 24 games.
It came as no surprise that the team relied pretty heavily on Katie Burt in net. Burt has previously proven her worth in the PHF with the Boston Pride, but her record this season with the Riveters was mixed (5-5), without the strength of the Pride defense or offense in front of her.
One point where the Riveters struggled this season: on the penalty kill. Their penalty kill was just 77 percent effective, worst of all teams in the league. Elsewhere, the team was pretty much average. Their power play wasn't the best, but also wasn't the worst. Same for their goal differential, and their goals-for average.
To their credit, the Riveters got hot at the end of the season, finishing it off with a four-game winning streak as they swept their series against both the Montreal Force and the Buffalo Beauts. They finished only three points out of a playoff spot, with two fewer regulation wins than the Whitecaps, so they didn't miss the postseason by much. The margin was really narrow for them, and had the Riveters picked up a few extra points throughout the season, they could have completely changed the PHF playoff picture.
This was the first season for the Riveters in their reported three-year contract to play at American Dream, and they went 7-5 on home ice. Not terrible, but not a very significant home ice advantage. On the opposite side, however, the Riveters did seem to struggle on the road, as they won just a third of those games, going 4-8.
The Riveters' season record against each PHF team:
- vs. Boston: 1-3-0 (outscored 13-7)
- vs. Buffalo: 3-1-0 (outscored opp. 17-10)
- vs. Connecticut: 2-2-0 (outscored 15-10)
- vs. Minnesota: 0-4-0 (outscored 15-7)
- vs. Montreal: 3-1-0 (outscored opp. 14-9)
- vs. Toronto: 2-2-0 (outscored 15-13)
Last summer, the Riveters signed just one player to a multi-year contract: captain Madison Packer. Packer's situation, however, is complicated. I recently confirmed that she voided the second year of that contract at the beginning of last season, which makes her a free agent. (The void came well before the PHF announced its expanded salary cap for the upcoming season.)
Since that confirmation, The Hockey News' Ian Kennedy has reported that Packer has re-signed with the Riveters, though this has not yet been announced by the team. This would have allowed Packer to re-negotiate the financial terms of her contract in line with the expanded salary cap. Packer not hitting the free agency market would be a huge vote of confidence in the Riveters' organization by the captain at a time when not much is yet confirmed about the way the team will look for 2023-24.
The other big change for the Riveters heading into next season is the departure of team president Digit Murphy. The Riveters reported on April 3 that Murphy "chose not to re-sign" in the position, as well as her position as senior vice president of BTM Partners. Although the team has framed her departure as her choice, I have confirmed from sources familiar with the situation that she was removed amid numerous complaints of offensive and unprofessional conduct that were submitted to the league's RealResponse portal. As of writing, Murphy is still listed as president on the Riveters' website, and as a senior vice president at BTM Partners.
As a whole, this season was a small improvement over last, and the team just narrowly missed qualifying for the postseason. They haven't made it to an Isobel Cup Final since winning the championship in 2018 and will undoubtedly look to rise back to the top of the league – which has gotten a little bit harder with the addition of two teams (Toronto, Montreal) since then.
With just one player potentially signed for the upcoming season, Riveters GM Tori Charron has a lot of work to do this offseason.
(Photo: Mike Hetzel/Buffalo Beauts)