by Janet Schultz
It’s been an active off-season for the National Womens Hockey League (NWHL) with coaching announcements, player signings and expansion.
The Minnesota Whitecaps have officially joined the NWHL, making them the first expansion team for the league. Founded in 2004, the Whitecaps are the fifth team in the NWHL and will play at TRIA Rink in their debut on October 6.
Among the Whitecap’s alumni are hockey legends Angela Ruggiero, Julie Chu and Natalie Darwitz. The Olympic gold medal-winning Team USA in 2018 included Whitecaps Hannah Brandt, Kendall Coyne, Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lomoureux-Morando and Alex Rigsby. Lisa Chesson, a member of the Buffalo Beauts, is a former member of the Whitecaps.
The entire coaching staff of the Whitecaps are people who took part in the club’s inaugural season in 2004. They include Co-Head Coaches Ronda Curtin Engelhardt and Jack Bodt. They will be joined by assistant coach Laura Slominski.
“I’m humbled to be part of the Whitecaps and I want to extend a big thanks to all the people involved in getting the NWHL off the ground and giving players a place to play after college,” said Engelhardt.
The Whitecaps will be in Buffalo December 29 and 30 and play the Riveters October 20 and 21 at Barnabas Health Center.
In other NWHL news Paul Mara has been named assistant coach for the Boston Pride. Mara played in the NHL with Tamp, Phoenix, Boston, New York and Anaheim.
NY native Dana Trivigno has re-signed with the Boston Pride. She was named to the NWHL All-Star game in 2017 and played on Team NWHL in the game against Team USA. She had 6 goals/11 assists for 17 points last season.
The Metropolitan Riveters are headed to play SDHL Lulea Hockey in Sweden September 24 through 30.
Cydney Roesler has been named assistant coach for the Connecticut Whale. She will also play defense for the team. Last season Roesler was a volunteer assistant coach at Quinnipiac.
Melissa Sheeran of Schaghticoke, NY has signed with the Whale. She is a graduate of Plattsburgh and a 2018 recipient of the Laura Hurd Award.
Buffalo has re-signed a number of players and added several to their roster including Julianna Iafallo of Eden and Annika Zalewski, New Hartford. Iafallo played for Nichols School and then Ohio State. Zalewski also comes from Nichols School and then played at Colgate University, where she served as captain. She was drafted 14th overall. The Beauts also added Savannah Harmon, drafted sixth overall in 2017, who comes from Downes Grove, Ill and played for Clarkson who took home two national championships. She served as the Golden Knights captain last season.
Dani Cameranesi joins the team after helping Team USA take the gold in PyeongChang in 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. The Beauts also added Goaltender Nicole Hensley, another gold medal team member, from Lindenwood University. Goaltender Shannon Szabados comes to Buffalo after playing on Team Canada in 2018; she is from Edmonton, Alberta.
Among those re-signed are Hayley Scumurra (Williamsville/Nichols/Northeastern), Maddie Elia (Lewiston/Nichols/Boston U), Lisa Chesson (Plainfield, Ill/Ohio State), Jordon Juron (Latham NY/Boston U), Jacquie Greco (Buffalo/Syracuse University), Julia DiTondo (played one pre-season game last year Kenmore/Mercyhurst), Emily Janiga (East Aurora/Mercyhurst), Sarah Edney I(Mississagua/Harvard), Taylor Accursi (Ancaster, Ont/Mercyhurst), Sarah Casorso (Kelowna BC/University of BC), Jordyn Burns (Chanhassen, Minn/Syracuse University).
The Beauts also came to terms with Goaltender Nicole Hensely. She won the gold with Team USA in 2018 and previously won gold with Team USA in the 2016 and 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Also returning is Corinne Buie who has won two Isobel Cups in her three seasons in the NWHL; she also served as the Beauts Captain last season.
Most recently they re-signed Olympic Gold medalist and Buffalo native Emily Pfalzer.
Some moves have also been made with Kelly Babstock coming from the Whale, Goaltender Amanda Leveille heading to Minnesota to play for the Whitecaps, Kristen Lewicki left Buffalo for the Riveters.
The Beauts will open their season at home on Saturday, October 13 against the Connecticut Whale.
Metropolitan (formerly New York) Riveters
Amanda Kessel is returning to the NWHL after playing in the 2018 Olympics. She was a Patty Kazmaier winner from Madison, Wisconsin and played for the University of Minnesota.
The Riveters have re-signed Sarah Bryant (Providence College), Katie Fitzgerald (St. Cloud), and Kimberly Sass (East Amherst/Colgate), Kelly Nash (University of Wisconsin), Rebecca Morse (Providence College), Audra Richards (Providence and University of Maine), Courtney Burke (Albany/University of Wisconsin), Michelle Pickard (Harvard), Jenny Ryan (Victor NY/University of Wisconsin), Miye D’Oench New York/Harvard), Chelsea Ziadie (Quebec/Harvard), Rebecca Russo Westport Ct/Boston U), Kelsey Koelzer (Horsham Pa/Princeton),
Pittsburgh will host the Riveters when they play the Whale on December 2 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
The Riveters open their season in Minnesota on October 6 and 7. They will hold their home opener Saturday, October 20 against the Whitecaps.
Tickets for NWHL game are now available. Go to NWHL.zone for more information.