Midseason shakeups in the NWHL

Coaches discharged, players departing, and some other moves that make even less sense ...

The start of 2019 has been a bit of a crazy period of roster moves in the NWHL. So let’s take a look at the news you may have missed.

Who is taking the reins in Buffalo?

As you may remember, just before the holidays, Buffalo Beauts head coach Ric Seiling and assistant coach Craig Muni were fired. They were replaced by Cody McCormick as interim head coach and general manager Nik Fattey as interim assistant coach.

On Jan. 8, John Vogl of The Athletic in Buffalo tweeted that Fattey had resigned from Pegula Sports and Entertainment and the Beauts. Fattey cited other business interests in the seemingly abrupt departure.

On Jan. 11, the Beauts announced McCormick had been named the general manager of the team without ever mentioning that Fattey had left the organization.

The other skate dropped on Jan. 16, when The Buffalo News broke that Fattey’s resignation came after an internal investigation of sexual harassment of female employees by him and another PSE executive. The Buffalo News notes that there still has not been official word from Pegula on Fattey’s departure.

Sarahs slip out of Buffalo

Two strong defenders for the Beauts left in two consecutive weeks. Two weeks ago, Sarah Edney announced her departure to attend dental school in Australia. Ahead of last weekend’s game, Sarah Casorso’s departure was announced due to her full-time job becoming more demanding. This leaves the Beauts with only 17 skaters on their roster, the fewest in the league.

Casorso went out with a bang, as she and Riveter Madison Packer had an altercation on the ice leading to a five-minute fighting penalty and a game misconduct for each.

Madison Packer suspended

As a result of that fight, Packer was suspended. According to Erica Ayala, it was an automatic one-game suspension for fighting, not an additional decision. She’ll sit for this weekend’s home game against the Pride.

Packer’s is the fifth NWHL suspension. In November 2015, Molly Engstrom was suspended for a punch to Meghan Duggan’s head. In February 2017, Devon Skeats sat a game after a three-strike system was applied to three different plays. Skeats had two slew foot infractions and one hit from behind. In November 2017, Jess Jones and Sarah Casorso were each suspended one game for a set of actions in the same game. Jones slew footed a Riveter and also removed the helmet of an opponent. Casorso was charged with a crosscheck and fighting.

(Slightly) new Pod, who dis?

The Connecticut Whale’s “Pod” has been changing a lot. It started on Jan. 2 with the trade of Maria Sorokina to the Riveters. The Russian goalie had been backing up Meeri Räisänen in her short time in Stamford, jumping ahead of rookie Sam Walther.

This opened up a spot for Laura Brennan, one of the Whale’s goalies last season and the goalie coach this season, to return to the roster. She dressed Sunday as the backup, Mike Murphy confirmed. For a short minute, the Whale had three goaltenders.

Brennan’s dressing raised the question of where Walther had swum off to. Both Ayala and Murphy confirmed that Walther was no longer with the team, bringing the Whale back down to two goaltenders.

In addition, Murphy confirmed first-year player Sam Donovan had been released from the team after playing in a few games, and Randi Griffin, whose offseason signing made a splash, was released without ever reporting to the team. The team signed Colleen Murphy officially, following her professional tryout in December, as well. The Whale now have 20 skaters and two goaltenders.