Yesterday, the NWHL announced that Juana Baribeau re-signed with the Connecticut Whale. The forward from Amos, Que., joined the Whale as a practice player upon the retirement of Jessica Koizumi. Elena Orlando nabbed the empty roster spot upon Koizumi’s departure, providing Baribeau a chance to join #ThePod as a reserve.
Prior to the NWHL, Baribeau had a successful career at Clarkson University. At the close of her four years, she was tied for second overall in goals (62) and third in points (118) for the Golden Knights. She is considered an integral part of the program’s 2009-10 run to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, and second ECAC Tournament Championship appearance.
Baribeau suited up for eight games last season and looks forward to improving her contributions. “I’m really excited to get the chance to properly prepare for the season and to show what I am capable of as a player,” said Baribeau in the league press release announcing her return.
Juana, or “Juice” as she is known by her teammates, joined teammate Anya Battaglino at the Girls on the Run 5k sponsored by Cigna. The pair of professionals spent the day interacting with the runners, offering advice and inspiration to young girls throughout the day. “That was an incredible, inspiring event, and a lot of fun,” said Baribeau.
Anya Battaglino and Juana Baribeau speaking at the #GOTR Hartford 5k event presented by Cigna! #CignaRunTogetherPosted by NWHL on Saturday, May 20, 2017
With the signing of Baribeau, the Connecticut Whale now have six skaters and one goalie committed for the 2017-18 season. The Whale struggled defensively last season, allowing a league-high 4.28 goals per game (77 total). Four defenders join goalie Sydney Rossman on the current roster.
Offensively, the Whale averaged 3.33 goals per game, second only to the regular season champions, the Boston Pride. In addition to Baribeau, All-Star forward Kelly Babstock (19 points) returns to the Whale. Orlando is also listed as a forward. However, the Whale lost second leading scorer Kelli Stack to the CWHL, and the team has yet to re-sign Haley Skarupa (22 points) or Nicole Kosta (17 points). Assuming the roster size remains the same from last season, Connecticut still has roster space for nine skaters and a goalie, as well as five practice skaters and a practice goalie.
The third season of the NWHL is set to start in October with a preseason Summit Series against Team Russia Oct. 11-23.