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NWHL Offseason: Roster Roundup 8/17

Boston drops 18 signings, Rivs and Beauts remain active

Boston Pride forward Jillian Dempsey celebrates her goal with her teammates during the 2021 Isobel Cup Final in Boston on Mar 27, 2021.
Michelle Jay/NWHL

The picture is getting a bit clearer, as signings continue to stream in for the NWHL. One team couldn’t bear parsing out their news drops and simply revealed their entire roster all at once. There’s a lot to recap, so let’s get to it!

Boston Pride

  • Players signed: 18
  • Returners: Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand, Christina Putigna, Katie Burt*, Victoria Hanson, Meghara McManus, Taylor Wenczkowski, Tori Sullivan, Lovisa Selander, Kaleigh Fratkin, Mallory Souliotis, Sammy Davis, Jenna Rheault, Paige Capistran, Lauren Kelly
  • Newcomers: Abby Cook, Kayla Friesen, Katelynn Russ

The majority of Boston’s Cup-winning core will be returning for 2021-22, as they announced their complete roster on August 4th. Star veterans Dempsey, Brand and Putigna headline the forward group, with key defenders Souliotis, Fratkin and Kelly all signed on as well. Last year’s goaltending duo of Selander and Hanson will remain in tact- with a twist.

Perhaps the most surprising addition for next season is Katie Burt, back between the pipes for the Pride after two seasons with the PWHPA. Burt was Boston’s top gun in net in 2018-19, posting an 11-5-0 record with a .920 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average. Selander and Hanson were already a formidable tandem. Adding Burt provides an interesting conundrum when it comes to playing time.

Also among the head-turning additions are last year’s second-overall pick Kayla Friesen and Katelynn Russ, both poached from the Connecticut Whale. Friesen and Russ combined for three goals in six total games in Lake Placid.

Buffalo Beauts

  • Players signed: 23
  • Returners: Marie-Jo Pelletier, Carly Jackson, Cassidy MacPherson, Caty Flagg, Erin Gehen, Autumn MacDougall, Lisa Chesson, Dominique Kremer, Taylor Accursi, Brittany Colton, Taylor Wasylk
  • Newcomers: Cassidy Vinkle, Emma Keenan, Amy Budde, Emilie Harley, Anjelica Diffendal, Sam Fieseler, Kennedy Ganser, Missy Segall, Allison Attea, Lovisa Berndtsson, Grace Klienbach, Jenna Suokko

Buffalo remains one of the most active teams in the NWHL, adding four more players since July 26th. International Draft pick Lovisa Berndtsson has inked her contract for the 2021-22 season, as have rookies Allison Attea (defense, Holy Cross) and Jenna Suokko (forward, Ilves, Naisten Liiga).

The most notable addition that league regulars will recognize is that of Grace Klienbach, the speedy forward who spent three seasons with the Connecticut Whale. Klienbach logged two goals and eight assists in 41 career regular seasons with the Pod. The Beauts were in desperate need of playmaking forwards with a high motor, and Klienbach provides that in spades.

Connecticut Whale

  • Signed: 16
  • Returners: Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Abbie Ives, Emma Vlasic, Hanna Beattie, Tori Howran, Mariah Fujimagari, Janine Weber, Kaycie Anderson
  • Newcomers: Kennedy Marchment, Allie Munroe, Taylor Girard, Emma Polaski, Cailey Hutchison, Catherine Crawley, Hannah Bates, Rebecca Morse

The Whale suffered a massive blow to their offensive production in losing Friesen, Russ and Klienbach in one fell swoop. They have responded by doing some luring of their own, prying Cailey Hutchison and Rebecca Morse away from the Metropolitan Riveters.

Hutchison is a bona fide top-six center, notching four goals and eight assists in 27 career regular season games with the Riveters while winning 51.5% of her faceoffs. Morse, meanwhile, provides much-needed veteran leadership on the back end. She has played in 56 NWHL games over five seasons, posting 15 points along the way. Given the loss of Shannon Doyle and Elena Orlando, Moose brings a calming presence to a defensive corps in need of stability.

Speaking of veteran leadership, Janine Weber and Kaycie Anderson are back in the fold as well. Connecticut still has options open should they want to add some offensive firepower, but their retention of Weber and Anderson goes a long way towards building on last season’s momemtum.

Metropolitan Riveters

  • Players signed: 16
  • Returners: Madison Packer, Emily Janiga, Leila Kilduff, Sonjia Shelly, Theresa Knutson, Allie Olnowich, Mallory Rushton, Kendall Cornine, Haley Frade, Brooke Avery, Rebecca Russo
  • Newcomers: Nora MacLaine, Brooke Wolejko, Rachel Ade, Lenka Čurmová, Kristen Barbara

The Riveters are revamping their look, both in the jersey department and on the ice. Out with the old sweaters, in with RoboRosie. Out with Saroya Tinker and Tera Hofmann, in with Lenka Čurmová and Brooke Wolejko.

After locking down key depth pieces like Haley Frade and Brooke Avery, the Rivs turned their attention to their more glaring needs. Wolejko fills Hofmann’s role as a 1B option in net, ironically reprising her tandem with Sonjia Shelly from their Connecticut days. Metro bolstered their defense with a slew of veterans as well, picking up Rachel Ade from the Whale, stalwart Kristen Barbara from the Six and offensive-minded Lenka Čurmová from the Beauts. The emphasis is clear- experience with a knack for puck movement.

Metro’s busy two weeks was capped off with the re-signing of Brooke Avery and Rebecca Russo.

Minnesota Whitecaps

  • Players signed: none

Minnesota remains the slowest moving team in the NWHL. All quiet on the western front.

Toronto Six

  • Players signed: 13
  • Returners: Shiann Darkangelo, Emma Greco, Elaine Chuli, Taylor Woods, Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Emma Woods, Lindsay Eastwood, Sam Ridgewell, Amy Curlew
  • Newcomers: Saroya Tinker, Maegan Beres, Leah Marino, Tera Hofmann

Toronto focused their efforts predominantly on their backup goaltending situation these last few weeks, inking both Sam Ridgewell and Tera Hofmann for the 2021-22 campaign.

Both Ridgewell and Hofmann both saw very limited minutes in Lake Placid, outshined by their respective counterparts. Elaine Chiuli emerged as one of the best performers in the league last season for the Six, relegating Ridgewell to just one start- an overtime loss. The Riveters played only three games in Lake Placid, two of them masterfully started by Sonjia Shelly. Hofmann turned aside 33 of 36 in her lone start of the year, good enough for the victory.

The Six also re-signed Amy Curlew, a standout playmaker from 2021. She collected four assists in six games with the Six last season.