Home Girls/Womens A Look At Women’s Hockey As We Head Into New Year!

A Look At Women’s Hockey As We Head Into New Year!

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by Janet Schultz

Well 2020 is about to end and 2021 will be coming in; but what will it bring. Surely the Pandemic will still be with us and with that a list of restrictions meant to protect us and yet frustrating for all of us.

WNYGVIH

Well the WNYGVIH season is also on hold, starting dates changing as quickly as rain changes to snow in WNY.

The coaches and some media members met via Zoom, thanks to Rick Hopkins, last week to discuss the future.

At this point coaches are keeping in touch with their players and know that they are more than anxious to get back on the ice.

There are some movements with Mark Brownschidle being named the head coach of the Monsignor Martin team and Coach Tom Ferro stepping down and opening a coaching position with Hamburg/Eden/West Seneca.

Right now the target date for WNYGVIH is February 1 with a 6-8 week schedule. It looks like it would be a 10-game schedule and a playoff/championship series needs to be determined.

The NYS Public Schools Athletic Association has canceled all NYS Championships, so the girl’s varsity championship, actually called a regional, is off with Canton/Potsdam being allowed to host next year.

Discussion was also held on how to honor this year’s senior class and the discussion and ideas will continue until the next meeting.

There is good news with several upcoming seniors signing letters of intent:

Natalie O’Brien and Amanda Jackson are the first Niagara County Team girls to sign letters of intent with O’Brien signing with Cortland and Jackson with Buffalo State.

Lauren Brown from HEWS has committed to Utica College; Carleigh Sutfin, also from HEWS will play Lacrosse at Seton Hill.

CASH’s Lilly Adimey is off to Buffalo State and Monsignor Martin’s Alex Groh will go to Western New England University.

If there are other girls who have made commitments, please let NYHOL know by emailing Janet@nyhockeyonline.com or texting me at 716-628-1966.

Remember Brooke Becker, and how can we forget, well she has made her mark on Providence College by scoring her first collegiate goal on November 21 to tie the game 1-1.

Bri Gawronski from Monsignor Martin and now playing for Buffalo State College was named the UB Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Buffalo State Spotlight Senior Athlete of the Week. The senior individualized studies major has played in 56 games between the pipes for the Bengals, posting a .909 career save percentage and a 3.19 goals against average. She is also tied for third is school history with 17 wins and has three shutouts. Gawronski was named first team All-NEWHL in 2018-19 and has also excelled in the classroom as a Buffalo State Scholar-Athlete with a 3.89 cumulative grade point average.

It looks like the girls who play in the WNYGVIH League are and have been making their mark.

NWHL

The NWHL has prevailed throughout the last ten months, signing players, forging sponsorships and contributing to their communities as best they can.

So to make sure we all have something to look forward to, the NWHL will host its sixth  season at the 1980 Herb Rooks Arena in Lake Placid. A two-week schedule, filled with hockey, will begin January 23, 2021 and end with an Isobel Cup Champion on February 5.

Each team will play five games (one against each team in the league) followed by a playoff round that will determine the four teams advancing to the Isobel Cup Semifinals. The single-game semis will feature the top-seeded team against the fourth place team; with the teams ranked second and third facing each other. 

The winners of the Semifinals will advance to the Isobel Cup Final.

While not ideal and no fans in the stands, we will be able to watch and root for our teams from the comfort of our homes through broadcasts which will be announced in the weeks leading up to the season.

The players will follow strict protocols established by the medical team fro the NWHL’s partners at NYYU Langone Health, led by Doctors Andrew Feldman and Guillem Gonzalez-Lomas, with those protocols being modified based on the most current research.

Buffalo Beauts Assistant Coach Rhea Coad is very excited about this season and expressed to NY Hockey Online that the whole team is looking forward to the experience in Lake Placid.

[ “Our team will be staying together in a facility only for the NWHL, we are all on one floor and are not allowed to mingle with other teams outside the arena,” explained Coad.

Coad explained that many of the player’s bosses have excused them from work and if they need to work they will do it remotely.

“We have an excited group of players, they work well together and with bringing back so many of them they are a close-knit family,” said Coad.

“We are blessed to have the opportunity to play in a cool arena,” said Coad. 

With no preseason games, or practices, how do you evaluate the other teams.

Coad explained that they are watching file film from last year and looking at college video of the new players.

“We feel we are prepared going in,” said Coad. 

“We will miss the fans. The fan noise in Buffalo makes it more exciting and the fans doe make a huge difference,” she continued. But we don’t just hope, we believe.

The Beauts have unveiled new uniforms this season with the signature Beauts Blue stars and stripes returning as the home jersey but introducing a new bold black jersey for away that complements team. Both jerseys have the logo and the City of Buffalo seal on the shoulders. The jerseys were designed by W. Hockey Partners marketing team.

The latest in signings include Jordan Juron ( pictured facing off against Buffalo’s MacPherson last season) returning. Juron is in her fourth season with the NWHL after joining the Boston Pride last January she comes back to Buffalo where she played both 2017-18 and 2018-19. Juron played at Boston University for four years with 15 goals and 25 assists on her record.

NWHL All-Star forward Brooke Stacey, who averaged more than a point per game last season, has resigned with the Buffalo Beauts. As a rookie in 2019-20, Stacey had 8 goals and 8 assists for 16 points in 14 games and was selected to play in the NWHL All-Star Game in Boston. On Feb. 4, it was announced that Stacey was expecting her first child. In her final appearances of the season, she participated in the All-Star Skills Challenge Shooting Accuracy competition and the introductions for the All-Star Game. This past summer, Stacey gave birth to a baby boy.

The other change to the Beauts Roster is the trade of Kelly Babstock to the Metropolitan Riveters.

…In the midst of all this the NWHL has changed its governance and issued the following press release earlier in the Fall.

The National Women’s Hockey League has adopted a new governance model inspired by the time-tested approaches taken in the NHL and other major professional leagues. The transparency and alignment of interests created under the new model will underpin the continued growth and ensure the long-term sustainability of women’s professional hockey in North America.

Dani Rylan Kearney is stepping down as NWHL Commissioner and will continue to pursue her work with women’s hockey as President of the original ownership group overseeing operations and the process of establishing independent ownership of the group’s four remaining teams.

The NWHL is pleased to announce the appointment of Tyler Tumminia as Interim Commissioner. Tumminia is a veteran sports team owner and front office executive who most recently served as Chairman of the Toronto Six, the NWHL expansion team launched in April.

“This is a time of opportunity and transformation for the NWHL, and the changes we are making across the league will fortify a foundation for continued success well into the future,” said Tumminia. “I look forward to collaborating with our partners in the NWHL and our expanding community of fans to create a special place that honors the rich talents of women’s hockey.”

Before her role as Chairman of the Toronto Six, Tumminia was the Senior Vice President of Goldklang Group, where she was responsible for operating five minor league baseball teams, including overseeing the teams’ marketing and broad scale sponsorship, operations, and communications efforts.

Prior to the reorganization announced today, the six-team NWHL was owned by a group of investors that also owned four of the hockey clubs, with the Boston Pride and Toronto Six owned by independent groups. Effective immediately, the league will take the form of an unincorporated association with a Board of Governors representing each member club, thereby ensuring alignment of interests between the League and its teams. This is the same approach used by the NHL, NFL, and MLB.

“For everyone who cares deeply about the NWHL and women’s hockey – especially our incredible athletes and impassioned fans – this is a landmark day signaling the start of a new era of growth,” said John Boynton, a member of the NWHL Board of Governors. “It begins with governance and a new structure and will result in major steps forward for the League on the ice, in our arenas, and as a business.”

“We would like to thank Dani for her role in founding the League and bringing it to where it is today. Dani has made an enormous impact on women’s hockey and led the NWHL from inception through its first five seasons, setting the stage for the next phase of growth,” said Andy Scurto, a member of the Board of Governors. “Tyler brings a wealth of relevant experience and we are confident that she will help take the League to the next level.”

Further announcements about the NWHL’s restructuring, along with updates on the upcoming season, expansion, and other topics of interest, are expected in the coming weeks and months.

In other NWHL News:

Thanks to the dedication and generosity of NWHL fans everywhere, more than $2,000 to benefit the efforts of the Black Girl Hockey Club (BGHC) to bring opportunities and access to hockey for the BIPOC community. The money was raised through the sale of a special “Equality vs Equity”line of shirts created by the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, and Minnesota Whitecaps.“Great job, NWHL fans!” said Riveters veteran defender Rebecca Morse. “From the bottom of my heart, all of the players thank you for showing up for this cause! It’s one that I’m personally very passionate about, so I’m thrilled to see so many others show their support.”

The Equality vs Equity Collection will remain in the team stores of the four clubs to continue to bring awareness to the issue. Hockey fans are encouraged to visit blackgirlhockeyclub.org to support and learn more about this essential group. W. Hockey Partners (WHP) – the organization that owns and operated the Beauts, Riveters, Whale and Whitecaps – is planning additional collaborations with BGHC in 2021 and beyond. WHP and its teams are determined to be an active agent of positive change in support of diversity, access, and equality in women’s hockey.

“Black Girl Hockey Club is committed to creating a space in the hockey community that engages Black voices and encourages Black women to achieve their goals,” said BGHC Founder Renee Hess. “With our Scholarship Program, we hope to address some of the financial barriers Black women encounter in the sport of ice hockey. We are beyond excited to work with the incredible players and leadership of W. Hockey Partners to create opportunities for young women to pursue their love of hockey and let that love of the game take them as far as they wish to go.”

… The Boston Pride today released the “Denna Strong” Collection of apparel on the team’s online store, bostonpridehockey.com.The apparel line was designed in a collaboration between the NWHL team and Laing, the former Boston Pride and Princeton forward who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a game on Dec. 31, 2015. The Pride are donating 25 percent of the proceeds of all sales from the collection to the Denna Laing Fund, which was created to provide assistance in Laing’s ongoing treatment and recovery.“As we approach the fifth anniversary of the date when Denna sustained her injury, thePride was inspired to continue to find ways to support her and raise awareness for advancing research to find a cure for paralysis,” said Pride President Hayley Moore. “In typical Denna fashion, when we presented the first drafts of designs to her, she said, ‘We definitely have to make this collection as much about the Boston Pride as me.’ Denna is an amazing woman and will always be an inspiration for our hockey team.”

… The National Women’s Hockey League and Stathletes today announced a partnership in which the Canada-based hockey analytics company will provide data and insights to the league’s teams throughout the NWHL’s 2021 season in Lake Placid.

…The Riveters have partnered with Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey, will sport new jerseys and have signed Paige Voight.

…The Minnesota Whitecaps have signed Nina Rodgers, Haylea Schmid, Lauren Baines, Lynn Astrup, Brooke White-Lancette, Rose Allevera and Sara Bustad. Bustad was a defender in Buffalo in the 2019 season. They have also signed Winny Brot Brown, Stephanie Anderson and Lisa Martinson.

…KI Sportswear has been named the exclusive jersey supplier to the NWHL.

…Former NWHL Player Celeste Brown has been named RIT women’s ice hockey coach. Brown played for RIT for four years.

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