A couple of weeks ago, the NWHL announced the time and location of the annual All-Star Game. In previous years, the game and accompanying skills competition would be held in partnership with an NHL team. Meaning it would be paired with an NHL double feature, or held at one of their rinks.
This year it will be different, as both activities will be held at Warrior Ice Arena, home of the Boston Pride the weekend of Feb. 8. It is likely that six or seven players from each team will make an appearance, generally keeping things even despite the odd number of teams in the league.
The league has already named two in captain Madison Packer and Kiira Dosdall. Each are representatives of the remaining players from the league’s founding. That leaves a few spots open for other Riveters to be named, so I’ve made my predictions.
If you’ve been watching or reading anything about the Riveters so far this season, you’ve seen this name. She is second to Packer for the most goals on the team, with ten. She has the team’s third-highest scoring percentage, with .154, and also over a .530 faceoff win percentage.
At the halfway point of the season – while the Riveters are just one point above the Beauts for the third spot in the league – none of that would be possible without Kendall ‘score-nine’ Cornine. Leaving her off an All-Star game roster would simply be wrong.
With 10 goals and 11 assists on the season, Leary is just three points behind Packer in the standings. This is deserving enough to be in consideration, like the previously mentioned players. However, it’s her team-leading .179 scoring percentage and unmatched clutch factor that separates her from the rest.
Leary has three power play goals on the season. She also – noticeably – scores very early and very late in games, having just one goal coming in the second period. She is consistent in getting the Riveters on the board first and keeping them in contention late in games. This is an important value unseen in statistics.
Four goalies will be named to All-Star teams, two to each team. And my case for Sam Walther is a strong one. While Lovisa Selander is a shoo-in by going undefeated so far this season and posting a .939 save percentage through 17 games, Walther has shined through a lot more adversity. Walther leads the league in shots against, having faced almost 100 more than the goaltender in second. While her .894 save percentage may not look impressive on paper, she still has the highest number of saves in the league by an overwhelming margin.
Walther has also had some incredibly flashy moments, earning her the nickname of Sam Wall-ther (complete with brick emoji). She will surely be in competition with the tandem goalie pairs of the Whale and Beauts for a roster spot, but I think leaving her out would be a massive miss by the league.
The Riveters’ defense has been a consistent downside to the team this year. However, as usual, Morse is a bright spot. She leads defenders in points with seven, and despite all still owns a minus-4 rating. She also has the highest goal differential on the team, which is an important trait in a defender.
Even though the Riveters’ defense has struggled all year. Morse would be – by far – the best choice among them.
In my personal opinion, Hutchison — who earned a spot as an alternate captain her rookie year — is one of the most underrated players on the team. She is living proof that the ‘eye test’ is very much valid along with considering analytics. She is known for a high face-off win percentage and having the versatility to play every position on the ice. The bottom line is good things happen for the Riveters when she is on the ice. I am sure she would bring that and a leadership attitude to Boston for an All-Star game.
The skills competition will be held on Feb. 8 at 8:00 PM. The All-Star Game will be held the following day at 2:30 pm. Both events will be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel.