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Riveters: Russo and Packer join Kessel at All-Star Game

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Connor Murphy

Riveters’ forward Amanda Kessel was named as one of the two NWHL All-Star captains in December. And yesterday two other New York Riveters were made All-Stars by fan vote.

Rookie forward and Riveters’ points leader Rebecca Russo and alternate captain and second-year All-Star Madison Packer will be joining Kessel in Pittsburgh. And they were very nearly joined by their teammates Ashley Johnston, Bray Ketchum, and Tatiana Rafter.

From the NWHL’s press release yesterday:

Gigi Marvin of the Boston Pride, Harrison Browne of the Buffalo Beauts, and Madison Packer and Rebecca Russo of the New York Riveters have been selected by the fans to participate in the NWHL’s 2017 All-Star Weekend in Pittsburgh on Feb. 11-12.

More than 20,000 votes were placed by fans during the two-week balloting process that concluded today at 10:00 am EST, with several players receiving strong consideration. Among those players were Brianna Decker, Alex Carpenter and Alyssa Gagliardi of the Pride; Corinne Buie, Shiann Darkangelo and Amanda Levielle of the Beauts; Kelly Babstock and Haley Skarupa of the Connecticut Whale; and Ashley Johnston, Bray Ketchum and Tatiana Rafter of the Riveters.

Madison Packer and Morgan Fritz-Ward were the players voted into the game by fans last year. Which means that Packer has been voted in by fans for two straight years. It is safe to say that she is not only a Riveters’ fan favorite, but also one of the league’s most popular players.

Madison Packer

Packer and Russo both skate on the Riveters’ top line, centered by rookie Alexa Gruschow. And they are both deserving All-Stars.

This year Packer is just one point shy of the seven points she posted in 16 games last season with the Riveters. She peppers the net with shots and has improved to an exceptional 0.60 points-per-game this year.

Russo has been the Riveters’ best forward this year. The undrafted rookie leads the NWHL in assists and trails only the Whale’s Kelly Babstock in points through the first half of the season.

Russo has been the sparkplug of New York’s offense this year both at even strength and on the power play. The former Terrier has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2016-17 NWHL season. Small, creative, tenacious and talented, Russo is fast becoming one of the NWHL’s top forwards.

Connor Murphy

Next week members of the media will select two more All-Stars to join the six skaters who have already been chosen. And in the following week Kessel and Kelley Steadman will select eight players each before the NWHL’s head coaches select the final four All-Stars.

The Riveters return to action after their holiday break to host the Boston Pride this Saturday at 6:30PM at the Barnabas Hockey House in Newark.