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NWHL 2019 MVP finalists released

Veterans and rookies alike made big statements.

Al Saniuk and Pat McCarthy

The NWHL announced its five finalists for the 2019 Most Valuable Player award. Every team is represented by one player, and they are Boston Pride’s Gigi Marvin, Buffalo Beauts’ Maddie Elia, Connecticut Whale’s Meeri Räisänen, Minnesota Whitecap’s Jonna Curtis, and Metropolitan Riveter’s Amanda Kessel.

Marvin is already a known force to be reckon with the in the NWHL. This season she averaged over one point per game and tied for the most goals on the Pride with her teammate Jillian Dempsey in goals on the season with 10. She posted seven multi-point games, giving her a serious case for MVP.

In her sophomore season, Elia topped the league in goals scored with 12 as well as taking second in overall points to her Buffalo line mate, Hayley Scamurra. Like Marvin, Elia posted seven multi-point games and ended her season with a points per game average over one.

NWHL rookie Meeri Räisänen was a late pick up by the Whale in the offseason but a worthy one. Despite still ending in last place, the Whale certainly would not have their two wins without Räisänen. With a save percentage of .908, Räisänen was chosen to attend the All Star Game but was replaced due to schedule conflicts. She also ended her season early due to injury so her positive impact could not be fully grasped. However, in her short time, she gave the Whale their first franchise shutout and faced an average of 31.6 shots per game.

Another rookie made the cut in Jonna Curtis of the Whitecaps. She finished the season tied with Elia for points in the league but easily led her team. She is one of three finalists to post a five-point weekend and had four multi-point games in total.

Finally, Amanda Kessel was nominated in her first full season back from missing last season due to the Olympics. Kessel led the league in assists with 15, battled through a lingering lower body injury, and led the league in power play assists despite the Riveters having the worst power play unit in the league. She also broke a league record with five points in one game in January over the Whale.

There are only two previous winners of NWHL league MVP as Brianna Decker won it back-to-back during the 15-16 and 16-17 seasons for the Boston Pride. Last year, Alexa Gruschow won it for the Riveters while leading the league in scoring.

All of these players were named VEDA NWHL Player of the Week at least once except Kessel.

The MVP Award was voted on by a panel of 20 media members and broadcasters in cooperation with the Women’s Hockey Media Association. The winner will be announced at a later date, after the Isobel Cup.