NWHL PLAYER OF THE MONTH FOR DECEMBER: THE RIVETERS’ KATE LEARY
By Mike Murphy and Jane Norton
Metropolitan Riveters forward Kate Leary, whose all-star-caliber season includes 13 points in December alone, has been named the NWHL Player of the Month.
It would be an understatement to say that Leary has been a hit with the Riveters. She's begun her NWHL career with a 12-game scoring streak, which means she has yet to play a game for the Riveters without appearing on the score sheet. In the month of December, Leary scored five goals and tallied eight assists — six of which were primary.
Even more impressively, Leary closed out the final month of 2019 by tallying two or more points in five straight games and putting at least three shots on goal in four consecutive games to help guide the Riveters to a 5-2-0 record in the month of December. Her consistent production has brought the Riveters within one point of third place in the standings, with one game in hand over the Buffalo Beauts to start the New Year.
The rookie Riveter, who led the team in even strength scoring through November, made a big splash on special teams in the last month of the year. Leary scored all six of her power-play points in December. Her ability to move the puck and snap pucks past goaltenders has elevated the Riveters' power play to a success rate of 18.7 percent, which is third in the league. Leary also closed out 2019 with a five-point weekend against the Beauts, which included a two-assist performance in the Labatt Blue NWHL Buffalo Believes Classic Outdoor Game on Dec. 28.
Leary has shined playing on the Riveters' top line with 2020 NWHL All-Star Madison Packer. She is second on the Riveters in points (20), second in primary points (18), third on the team in shots on goal (43), third on the team in iSteady (50), tied for first on the team with Packer in assists (11), and second on the team in power play goals (3). The Boston College alumna is one of six players in the league with 20 or more points and has played the fewest games (12) and has committed the fewest giveaways (6) among that elite group.
“Kate has brought experience, creativity and speed to our team, and it’s fun to see how much she enjoys being part of our team,” said Riveters head coach Ivo Mocek. “Her chemistry on the ice with Madison Packer is undeniable.”
After informing Leary that she had earned Player of the Month honors, we conducted a brief email Q&A with the Riveters star.
How would you explain your great success so far in your first season in the NWHL and with the Riveters?
Leary: My teammates on the Riveters have been really great! Being from Boston, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. But they’ve been super welcoming and that has made playing here such a great experience. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play this season, having just come back from Europe and looking for a job. But I was coaching and training all summer so I was certainly ready when (Riveters GM) Kate Whitman Annis called in mid-September.
What did you think of the outdoor game in Buffalo?
Leary: It was a really cool experience! There were fans everywhere you looked! It was great to have that atmosphere. And I like being the underdog/away team that the fans are cheering against. So to get a big win against Buffalo in such a cool atmosphere and wild game was definitely important to our team.
What do you feel you and the Riveters need to do in the second half of the season to get into position to contend for the Isobel Cup?
Leary: We need to keep building off of this weekend and use that momentum over the next several weeks. Our team was very new to each other so I think it just took some time and adjustments to kind of find our groove. But now we’re playing some of our best hockey and gearing up for the homestretch. If we can get more wins then we’ll put ourselves in a good spot heading into playoffs.
Leary and the Riveters are home this weekend for games against the Minnesota Whitecaps on Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 4:30. Tickets are available now at NWHL.zone/tickets.
2019-20 NWHL Players of the Month
October: McKenna Brand, Boston Pride
November: Mary Parker, Boston Pride
December: Kate Leary, Metropolitan Riveters
Photo Credits: Shuyler Meyer, Kate Frese