The five practice players taking a spot on the New York Riveters bench are a mix of returning roster players, returning practice players, and women who are new to the professional game, this being their first season on the ice as a post-grad. New York’s general manager and head coach Chad Wiseman signed Gabie Figueroa, Taylor Holze, Rebecca Morse, Julia “Cheeky” Herr and Sarah Bryant to practice player contracts.
The team still has one practice player position left to fill; the New York Riveters will be holding an open tryout at practice.
Gabie Figueroa | D | New York Riveters
Both Figueroa and Holze return to the Riveters as veterans of the inaugural season team. Figueroa scored one goal through 18 regular season games and both Isobel Cup Playoff games. Figueroa is a solid defensive defender whose upbeat personality helped the Riveters get through a tough season where the team found itself dead last in the league.
Her offensive upside is low, however, which likely contributed to her loss of a roster position. This season, General Manager and Head Coach Chad Wiseman has centered the Riveters around speed and offensive ability.
Instead, Figueroa is a conscientious defender who has clear vision around the net and a strong pass to start a transition. While she may not be a roster player, expect Figueroa to make a difference on the back end when she steps in.
Figueroa was clear with media at the New Jersey training camp in June that she wanted to return to the Riveters, either as a practice or roster player. Given Figueroa’s location in New Jersey and day job in New York City, her ability to play on another team was limited; had the Riveters not picked her up again Figueroa’s best options would have been beer-league hockey.
“If I don’t end up with a contract spot I’ll definitely be a practice player in a non-paid position and still be involved with the league, just because I believe in it so much,” Figueroa told Today’s Slapshot.
Taylor Holze | F | New York Riveters
Holze, another returning player to the Riveters, captured one assist in 7 regular season games with the Riveters. Although her season was marred by unexpected injury after being slammed into an open bench door – not the first major injury issue Holze has dealt with in her relatively short hockey career, as she came into the season having recently recovered from surgery – Holze proved herself speedy and effective, though irregularly so. She spent the first season with the Riveters as a practice player, possibly due to concerns over her speed and agreed to return as a practice player once more.
Her skating ability is above par and Holze herself easily adapts to different positions and roles on the ice; should she remain healthy throughout the season she will be a regular contributor up front.
Rebecca Morse | D | Providence College Friars
Morse joins the Riveters from Providence College, alongside goalie Sarah Bryant and joining former Providence Friar Janine Weber. Morse, who played for the Friars from 2010-14, collected 61 points (16 goals, 45 assists) in 135 games.
Morse had a strong campaign at Providence; as a freshman she was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team as well as the Hockey East Rookie of the Month and the Hockey East Rookie of the Week. She continued to build solid skills over the next three years. As a junior she led the team in blocked shots with 52. That dropped to 37 the following year, but Morse still topped her fellow defensemen. Her last season, Morse tied for among defenders in goals scored.
Julia (Cheeky) Herr | F | Trinity College Bantams
Julia “Cheeky” Herr played in 90 games at Trinity College from 2012-16, where she collected 82 points (38 goals, 44 assists). Herr netted five power play goals throughout her career, as well as an additional shorthanded goal. During her four years at Trinity, Herr tallied seven game-winning goals and one hat trick, to boot, finishing her time as a Bantam with a plus-minus of plus-50, roughly indicating a positive role in puck possession.
Herr also set a new single-season program record in points with 38 points, having netted 20 goals and 18 assists to earn that title.
Herr is a strong, well-rounded athlete, which gives her the ability to hold her own at the mouth of the net and the opportunity to clean up on some rebounds. She has a quick eye and quick hands, but at times gets something akin to tunnel vision on the ice and misses alternative opportunities.
Sarah Bryant | G | Providence College Friars
Bryant graduated in 2016 from Providence, having earned a 0.877 save percentage and 3.29 goals-against average in 4,000 minutes played. Although Bryant ended her collegiate career fourth on the Friars’ all-time save list having stopped 1,564 shots, as a senior Bryant played a total of seven games and finished with a 5.70 goals against average and 0.851 save percentage. She earned the team’s Academic Award for the two years in a row with a 3.91 GPA.
Bryant never managed to crack a 0.900 save percentage throughout her four years in net for Providence; while she will prove a valuable extra body for skaters to practice on during the week, Bryant will likely not see much time in net during games for New York.