How did things go wrong for Brooke Ammerman last season? She was supposed to be one of the stars of the New York Riveters, a slower, grind-it-out team that saw some flashes of brilliance from various players throughout the season, Ammerman being among them. Her lack of footspeed wasn’t going to matter on the Riveters, but her scoring ability would. It is easy to look at the Riveters and see what was intended.
Where it went wrong was in the initial stages, and that is where New York failed its players.
Despite a pretty decent season, Ammerman did not play up to her potential, netting only 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 15 games, earning a points per game average of .93.
At the University of Wisconsin, Ammerman scored 241 points over 152 games. She earned third place in Wisconsin’s records with 82 goals as well as a team Offensive Player of the Year award as a sophomore. In Germany, where Ammerman played for a year post-graduation, she was the leading scorer in the league. This is in stark contrast to her time on the Riveters where she came in second on the team in points but notably below her prior accomplishments.
While the players themselves are not blameless, the building of the Riveters played a large part in the difficulties the team had throughout the season. New York in its building lacked a clear overall vision, and as a result, rostered players who benefited from varying systems weren’t able to do so with the Riveters. Many had developed in programs that weren’t winning ones and didn’t have the experience necessary. Ammerman, for example, who would have benefited from a smart passing game, instead was bogged down by giveaways and short spurts of puck possession.
“I’m very competitive,” Ammerman said in a January interview. “I like to do well and contribute, be an offensive force and contributor to the team so my mentality going into any hockey game, whether it’s beer-league, this level or DI at Wisconsin is to score goals and put up points.
“That for me, whether it’s practice or a game, has never changed since I was probably nine years old. Whatever sport I’ve played I’ve always been that kind of player on any team I played for. As far as getting my legs back and getting back to where I am, I would say obviously, just looking at my last handful of games from the New Year versus the past I would just say points-wise I haven’t been as much of an offensive threat. But that mentality never changed.”
Despite her self-evaluation, Ammerman was indeed a significant threat while on the ice. She lost time last season due to an upper-body injury suffered in early December but her first game back showed the kind of player she could be. She put up two goals against the Connecticut Whale; the Riveters were very narrowly edged out by Connecticut in a 4-3 game. She was a force of nature that night and the playmaker the Riveters needed up front.
She was the player she could have been all season with a little more support on the ice.
Ammerman may be a tremendous scorer but she needs a supporting cast that can make up for her lack of speed. She herself has a high hockey IQ and is more than capable both offensively and defensively; adding her in to a group of players who themselves play a passing game and see whole ice will make the best use of her skills possible.
That is why New York might, once again, be the best place for her. The additions of Amanda Kessel and Courtney Burke and even more recent signing of Janine Weber shows that Wiseman is aiming for a fast transition team that is strong on hockey IQ and passing. Ammerman may not be the fastest player on the ice but she would fit in well on a team focused on players with a strong understanding of the game and an ability to the see the whole of the ice.
Whether Ammerman is interested in returning is an entirely different matter. She plans to marry her fiancé over the summer and was cagey about her future plans when asked.
“We both enjoy kids and the game so we have talked about once my playing career and his playing career came to an end that we would like to have some sort of hockey school,” Ammerman said. “He’s a goaltender and I’m a [skater] so we could do a little bit of everything, settle down maybe in NJ or in Germany where he’s from. That would be ideal for both of us.
“That’s something we have definitely thought about, once my playing career has come to an end, and talked about shortly before the Riveters started, and once his playing career winds down as well.”