The only captain that the New York Riveters have ever known is, finally, an All-Star.
The day after the four players voted in by fans were announced, two more All-Star selections chosen by the media were revealed today. Both skaters were Canadian-born: Kelly Babstock and Ashley Johnston.
From the NWHL’s press release:
Forward Kelly Babstock of the Connecticut Whale and defender Ashley Johnston of the New York Riveters have been chosen by a select panel of reporters to participate in the NWHL’s 2017 All-Star Weekend in Pittsburgh on Feb. 11-12.
Babstock leads the NWHL in scoring with 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points. Johnston is the captain of the Riveters and is regarded as one of the top all-around defenders in the league. Babstock and Johnston are both Canadians who played college hockey in the U.S. – Babstock at Quinnipiac and Johnston at Union.
In 10 games this year Johnston has scored two goals and added two assists. And all of her points have come at even strength. However the Riveters’ captain, who towers over attacking forwards with her 6’0” frame, is best known for her stalwart defensive play.
Johnston just might be the best “shutdown” defender in the NWHL.
Defenders rarely get noticed unless they’re making mistakes or scoring goals. When they’re playing their role well they often go unnoticed. But “Stretch”, of course, tends to stand out both on and off the ice.
She is a fan favorite for a reason.
If Madison Packer is the heart of the team, Johnston is almost certainly the emotional core. Her heartfelt statement after the news of the salary cuts broke exploded on social media. It wrestled our collective attention away from the scandal and drama and back towards hockey, the athletes playing the game and the value of a professional women’s hockey league.
This will be Johnston’s first NWHL All-Star game appearance. She joins teammates Packer, Rebecca Russo and Amanda Kessel as four of the eight known 2017 NWHL All-Stars.