By Janet Schultz, NYHOL
October 2, 2020
NWHL Continues Signing Players, Planning for Upcoming Season
While COVID may have put a lot of us on hold, the National Women’s Hockey league continues to plan for the upcoming season by signing players, making management changes and signing partnership deals.
My coverage has been little sparse, but I have been following movements in women’s hockey nationally and throughout the State. Personal situations have kept me from the computer but now with the cool air and Autumn colors I’m ready to write, just missing the cold of the rink.
Let’s look at the moves the NWHL teams have made:
Iveta Klimášová, a member of Slovakia’s national team, has re-signed with the Beauts after making a big impression in her rookie season. The smooth-passing power forward finished the season third on the Beauts in scoring with 18 points in 24 games. Klimášová set a single-season franchise record in assists by a forward (15) and finished the season tied for 10th in the league in primary assists (9).
The Buffalo Beauts have signed goaltender Kelsey Neumann and forwards Kristin Lewicki and Emma Ruggiero to contracts for the upcoming NWHL season. “The Beauts organization is very excited to have all three players back,” said Buffalo associate head coach Rhea Coad. “The NWHL Foundation Award describes Emma as a human to a T. Her personal drive and commitment to the team are admirable. Wheels (Lewicki) brings a lot of speed up front, and her smarts and aggression set her apart. Neumann’s ability, work ethic and hockey knowledge are why we wanted her back, and her positivity makes her a fan favorite.”
The Beauts have signed four-time AHCA/CCM First Team All-American and 2020 NHCA Player of the Year Kelly O’Sullivan, the team’s fourth round selection in the 2020 NWHL Draft. Earlier this year, Sullivan became the first four-time All-American in Adrian College history, and just the third four-time First Team All-American in Division III women’s hockey history.
Buffalo native Erin Gehen has re-signed her contract. She is tied fourth on the team with points.
Congratulations to Brooke Stacy on the birth of a baby boy on September 1.
Forward Hunter Accursi, who earlier this year completed her collegiate playing career at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, has signed with Buffalo.
As a member of the Connecticut Whale last season, Kayla Meneghin scored three goals and added an assist in her four games against the Buffalo Beauts. Saying “It’ll be nice to have that firepower on our side now,” Buffalo GM Nate Oliver has signed Meneghin to a contract to play the upcoming NWHL season with the Beauts.
Goaltender Victoria Hanson, who was a perfect 6-0 in her first season with the Boston Pride – the 2019-20 regular season champions – has re-signed with Boston for the upcoming NWHL season.
The Boston Pride have added to their outstanding corps of defenders with the signing of Paige Capistran, one of the club’s selections in the 2020 NWHL Draft in April. In 2019-20, Capistran captained Northeastern to their winningest season in program history.
Taylor Turnquist, who earlier this year completed a standout collegiate career at Clarkson University, is now a member of the Boston Pride. Turnquist was a member of Clarkson’s NCAA championship teams in 2017 and 2018.
Former Harvard captain Briana Mastel was an instrumental part of the Boston Pride’s defense as the team won 24 of 25 games in her rookie season in 2019-20, and now she has signed to return to the team for the upcoming NWHL season.
The Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League have taken their place among the city’s championship teams with two banners now on display at Boston Logan International Airport. Banners commemorating the Pride’s Isobel Cup championship in 2016 and regular season title in 2019-20 were formally unveiled in conjunction with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). The Pride banners are the 40th and 41st banners to hang in the Celebration of Championship
Five months after the Toronto Six were first announced, logos and jerseys became reality, and the roster filled out, the NWHL’s sixth team now has a home. The Six announced a partnership with Canlan Ice Sports to play the team’s inaugural season out of Canlan Ice Sports’ York facility.
Canlan Ice Sports’ York facility is located at Jane St. and Steeles Ave. W in the north of Toronto and houses six ice surfaces including a 1,200 seat Olympic-sized rink, which the Toronto Six will be playing on. The Toronto Six will also be using Canlan as its primary practice facility and have locker rooms built out specifically for the team.
“Our first priority in a home rink was finding somewhere fans across Toronto and the GTA could come to see the Six play,” President Digit Murphy said. “Canlan is in an accessible location with all the amenities we could’ve asked for and we can’t wait to step on the ice of our new arena and for the puck to drop signaling the start of season six.”
The Canlan complex, which includes conference rooms, a bar & grill, and a 4,000 square foot training facility, has played host to Team Canada’s National Junior and World Championship Men’s and Women’s hockey teams and is home of York University men’s and women’s varsity teams.
“We are excited that our York (Toronto) location was chosen as the host facility for the Toronto Six,” Canlan Ice Sports Corp. President and CEO Joey St-Aubin said. “Canlan is committed to growing Women’s hockey through innovative instructional programs, leagues, tournaments, sport-related experiences and partnerships. We are looking forward to working closely with the club’s ownership and management to bring a whole new dynamic to the sport here in Toronto.”
The Toronto Six is a professional ice hockey expansion team that will be based in Toronto and will begin play in the 2020–21 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) season. The Six are the NWHL’s first professional hockey team to play in Canada. An ownership group is led by Johanna Neilson Boynton, with Tyler Tumminia serving as the team’s chairman. Digit Murphy is the team’s President and Mandy Cronin serves as the Six’s General Manager.
Their signings over the past two months include:
Sarah Steele, a defender from Prince Edward Island who won a gold medal with Team Canada at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in 2013, is coming back to play hockey in Canada for the first time in more than seven years. After a strong collegiate career at Boston University and three years in Europe, Steele has signed a contract to play the first-ever season of the Toronto Six of the National Women’s Hockey League.
Mackenzie MacNeil, a tenacious 5-8 forward from Richmond Hill, Ontario who played at the University of Vermont and one season in the CWHL before spending last season playing pro hockey in Denmark. MacNeil is the 18th player signed by the Six for their first NWHL season.
Bridgette Prentiss, the 2019-20 New England Women’s Hockey Alliance Defender of the Year, has signed a contract to play for the Metropolitan Riveters. In April, the Riveters selected Prentiss in the fourth round of the 2020 NWHL Draft after she starred at Franklin Pierce University.
In search of additional pop to their offense, the Metropolitan Riveters have made a major addition with the signing of Theresa Knutson, the former top goal scorer at UConn who has spent the last two years posting big numbers in Europe.
Rebecca Russo, an Isobel Cup champion, NWHL All-Star and one of the most popular players in the early years of the league, has returned to the Metropolitan Riveters. The speedy and high-scoring forward has signed a contract with the Riveters and will join the team when training officially begins next month.
The Connecticut Whale’s new uniforms were exclusively unveiled to viewers of “NWHL Open Ice” on Twitch. The design embraces the “Fins Up” spirit of the Whale and their fans, and incorporates the fluke – the whale’s source of speed and power – into the design in a clean and modern way. Jerseys will be available for purchase in the coming months.
The high-skilled forward and fan favorite Janine Weber has signed a contract to play next season with the Connecticut Whale. In addition to competing in her fifth season in the NWHL, the longtime member of Austria’s National Team aims to once again be part of Team Austria as it seeks to qualify for the next Olympics.
Jordan Brickener is the 100th player to sign with the NWHL.
Maddie Bishop signs after being selected in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft
Amy Scheer has been named General Manager of the Whale, succeeding Bray Ketchum.
Corrinne Buie, a fan favorite in Buffalo for the past four years, has signed to play for Minnesota
After scoring 9 goals and adding 11 assists in her first season with the hometown Minnesota Whitecaps, two-time NWHL all-star forward Audra Richards has re-signed with the team.
Two-time NCAA champion Chelsey Rosenthal has signed for her third season in the NWHL with the Minnesota Whitecaps.
Maddie Rowe, the outstanding defender from the 2019 NCAA champion Wisconsin Badgers who was selected by Minnesota in the NWHL Draft in April, has signed a contract to play the upcoming season with the Whitecaps.
Joining the NWHL for the league’s upcoming sixth season is Haley Mack, who was signed today by the Minnesota Whitecaps after the club selected her with their fourth pick in the 2020 NWHL Draft in April.
The Minnesota Whitecaps will have three more essential veterans back for the upcoming season. The 2019 Isobel Cup champions and 2020 finalists have re-signed goaltender Allie Morse, and forwards Meaghan Pezon and Meghan Lorence.
Toronto-based Bladetech Hockey has signed a partnership agreement with the National Women’s Hockey League and has been designated as the “Official Blade of the NWHL and Official Partner of Women’s and Girls’ Hockey.” As part of the agreement, Bladetech will provide their high-tech skate blades with the company’s patented Flex Force Advantage to all of the players in the NWHL. The agreement comes as the NWHL’s six teams – Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, and first-year expansion club the Toronto Six – begin training for the league’s sixth season.
“Bladetech Hockey is honoured to be partnering with the NWHL and we thank Commissioner Dani Rylan Kearney, the league, teams and players for this wonderful opportunity,” said Bladetech CEO Anthony Morra. “We are proud to support the best hockey players in the world, which includes NHL all-stars and Stanley Cup champions, and this partnership with the women’s professional hockey league in the U.S. and Canada continues that trend. All NWHL players will have access to our Flex Force Advantage skate blade technology, which will further enhance their performance. We’re very excited to be part of a league that focuses on showcasing world-class talent. This is an important partnership for Bladetech Hockey as we want to help the NWHL and the women’s game continue to reach new levels this season and beyond.”
On National Voter Registration Day, the National Women’s Hockey League and the NWHL Players’ Association have unveiled “NWHL Votes” – a league-wide, non-partisan initiative to inspire fans, staff, players and everyone in the close-knit hockey community to register to vote and to participate in the upcoming elections on November 3.
Information on registration, voting, volunteering and election research is at nwhl.zone/vote2020
In addition to driving registration and encouraging everyone to check their voting status with our friends at Headcount, the NWHL has partnered with Power the Polls and become a member of the Civic Alliance. Power the Polls is recruiting poll workers to help ensure a safe and secure election. As a member of the Civic Alliance, the NWHL proudly stands with more than 200 major companies – including other sports leagues and teams – collaborating to encourage participation in the 2020 elections.
“We’re proud to partner with the National Women’s Hockey League and so grateful to these women who are using their voices to help ensure the upcoming election is safe, fair, and accessible for all,” said Erika Soto Lamb, a founder of Power the Polls and Vice President of Social Impact Strategy at Comedy Central and MTV. “Not enough poll workers means not enough polling locations means long lines that disenfranchise people who can’t afford to wait to vote. Power the Polls is sounding the alarm bell to recruit the next generation of poll workers who will protect our democracy and ensure access to safe, fair and smooth elections for more American voters. Thank you to the NWHL for joining us in this effort.”
Earlier this summer, soccer star Tziarra King tweeted that she had become a fan of the NWHL’s Metropolitan Riveters. But King – a National Women’s Soccer League first round pick by Utah Royals FC out of North Carolina State – had a concern. “I really want this shirt,” she wrote of a Riveters t-shirt with an illustration of a woman’s hair coming out of a hockey helmet. “But can we get some texture in that pony(tail) for the black girls? I’m thinking something like (Riveters rookie) Saroya Tinker. Maybe one for the short-haired girls too?”
Since then, a soccer/hockey crossover was formed. King shared her time and talent with the NWHL, collaborating on a few additional designs for the line of t-shirts that addressed her call for more representation. The new designs, created by league marketing director Ksenia Selemon in conjunction with King as special consultant, are available beginning today at shop.nwhl.zone for fans of the Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and Minnesota Whitecaps, at the online team store of the Toronto Six at t6fanwear.com, and the newly-opened bostonpridehockey.com for the Boston Pride.
The 2020 Isobel Cup Finalists, the Minnesota Whitecaps and Boston Pride, have come together with GoodWood Hockey and MeiGray Auctions to support important causes in their communities.
50 Isobel Cup Final caps – autographed by stars from each team and authenticated by MeiGray – are available via auction at www.meigrayauctions.com
All proceeds from hats signed by Pride players will go towards providing masks for the Boston Public Schools. All proceeds from Whitecaps hats will be donated to the We Love Lake Street Recovery Fund. The fund is dedicated to aiding and rebuilding small and local businesses in the Lake Street community in Minneapolis damaged in the aftermath of the unjust murder of George Floyd.
(NYHOL appreciates the NWHL Public Relations personnel for sending out these press releases)