The New York Riveters’ goaltending situation has been a bit of a mystery for the public leading up to the 2016-17 season. The team signed two roster goaltenders in former Whale netminder Jaimie Leonoff and South Korean national team goaltender So Jung Kim, with Providence College graduate Sarah Bryant taking the practice player slot reserved for the third goalie.
The roster appeared to be set for the NWHL’s second season.
Confusing matters, August saw St. Cloud State goalie, Katie Fitzgerald, added to the Riveters roster, albeit with no press release to go along with her appearance. An SB Nation article on the Fitzgerald signing indicated that New York had a goaltender with visa issues, who was at first widely assumed to be Kim, as Leonoff had played in the league last season and Bryant is a U.S. citizen. Leonoff, however, was no longer listed on the roster and did not appear at Riveters preseason games.
The league kept silent on New York’s unusual situation in net when Today’s Slapshot reached out to the NWHL for clarification, leading Today’s Slapshot to speculate whether Leonoff was still involved with the league, and what that could mean for both the Riveters and the NWHL as a whole.
In response, Leonoff reached out to Today’s Slapshot to shed light on the situation. Leonoff explained that she had torn her labrum in her hip – a problem area that kept her from playing for a brief stretch in the NWHL’s first season – and was taking the year off from professional hockey. She added that visa issues were not a factor for her.
While she might try to rehab the injury mid-season, Leonoff is still figuring out the best way to deal with her injury and it is unlikely fans will see her on NWHL ice at all this season. Leonoff did clarify that the injury occurred in early August, right before Fitzgerald signed with the Riveters.
Update: The league posted the news on its site, stating that Leonoff would undergo surgery for the torn hip labrum. Per the league, Leonoff does not intend to retire but will take the season off to rehabilitate her injury.