The NWHL Q&A: Mallory Rushton on Her Season, Scornine, Cup Final Pick, and EA Sports

by Dan Rice

Following four years of playing collegiate hockey for RIT, Mallory Rushton followed two of her teammates (Kendall Cornine, Brooke Baker) and joined them with the Metropolitan Riveters. The 23-year-old proved to be just as versatile in the pros as she was in college, where she spent a lot of time playing defense. This past NWHL season she played in all 24 games and one playoff game for the Rivs and was often deployed to play the point on one of their power-play units.

Photo credit: Ashley Intile

As a rookie, Rushton finished fourth on the team in points (13), second in assists (12), and her lone goal on the season ended up being the game-winning goal in a Feb. 16 4-3 win over the Buffalo Beauts. That goal capped off a three-game stretch where the Nova Scotia native tallied five points (1g-4a). 

In their heartbreaking, playoff overtime 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Whitecaps on March 8 Rushton finished third on her team in shots on goal (4), behind only Kate Leary (8) and Madison Packer (5). This week we spoke with Rushton — who signed with the Riveters on Tuesday — via phone to asses her rookie season, the future, and more.

NWHL: Looking back at your season, how would you assess it?

Mallory Rushton: It was a learning curve. The first couple of weeks were different, an adjustment coming from college hockey, and I felt like my teammates helped to make that transition so much easier. I’m really grateful for them. I’d say the Riveters season went pretty well. I felt we bounced back in the games that we needed to. I really believe we had everything we needed to make it to the Isobel Cup Final, but unfortunately, we didn’t make it there. In the future, maybe next season, the Riveters will have an even better chance to do that. They’ll be there because of Coach Ivo’s coaching skills and his passion for the game. I’m very grateful that I was able to be a part of the Riveters this past season.

NWHL: Do you feel like your game grew over the course of the season?

MR: I would say I gained more confidence. I felt like by the end of the season I was playing more of my style of game and I wasn’t afraid to make plays. Confidence is the main thing that changed for me and adjusting to the speed of the game.

NWHL: What does the future hold for you?

MR: Looking back on the season I had with the Rivs and how close of a group that we had, the culture we created, there is no other team that I would want to play for. My experience this year was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates, a better coaching staff, and support staff too. All-around with the Riveters organization, everything was top-notch and I appreciate the fan support we had, too.

NWHL: When they finally play the Isobel Cup Final, who ya got - Minnesota or Boston?

MR: That’s a tough question! First of all, my heart hurts for them because it’s a tough situation with that game being on hold for now. Boston is obviously very skilled and most people probably think that they will win, but we played our last game against Minnesota. They have the speed, they have the skill, and they work and battle you until the end. I might have to say Minnesota, but it’s a close call and only because they beat us, I am rooting for them.

NWHL: As a first-year player, did the league surpass your expectations prior to the start of the season?

MR: I knew a little bit about the league but not a whole lot. I probably knew more about the CWHL just because I’m from Canada, but as I looked at the NWHL it became a goal of mine to play there. Playing in the league this year definitely surpassed my expectations. The passion that the fans following the Riveters showed this year, the way the staff came together, everything was more than I expected. Just the way the league is run...it’s run by women and that’s great to be a part of something like that. It all surprised me in a good way, and it was awesome to really see the league grow this year with sponsorships and it’s exciting thinking about the future.

NWHL: Were you happy to see your buddy Kendall be the first to re-sign with the Rivs?

MR: Absolutely! But it didn’t surprise me. There’s no one else I’d rather see be the first to re-sign with the Riveters, being that she’s from New Jersey and that she works so hard on and off the ice. She really has a love for the game and I’m really happy for her.

NWHL: What would you say is your prized piece of memorabilia?

MR: I have an autograph that I got when I was in high school from someone that worked in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. It’s a Sidney Crosby autographed poster from one of his first seasons in the NHL, and I haven’t lost it. Sometimes I may misplace things but it’s definitely something that has stuck with me. I also have pretty much kept every single jersey since I started playing hockey.

NWHL: Would you rather be featured on an Upper Deck NWHL Hockey Card that fans could get at our rinks for you to sign or be featured in an EA Sports Video Game?

MR: If I was a couple of years older I would probably say maybe on a card, but I’m definitely going with being in an EA Sports Game. That would be awesome to see myself on TV and hockey fans would be able to choose me as a player. For the NWHL as a whole, that would be really cool.