The longest-standing professional women’s hockey franchise in North America closes the PHF chapter of their story.
From starting their journey in 2004 in the WWHL, to their independent franchise era, and of course their time spent in the NWHL/PHF, the Minnesota Whitecaps are the epitome of what women’s hockey is: heart, history. ambition.
To this day, they are the only team to ever win both the Clarkson Cup and the Isobel Cup. Before they did that, they won 3 WWHL Championships as well. Numerous legends have tossed on a Whitecaps jersey over last nine years. Julie Chu, Manon Rhéaume, Lisa Chesson, Jenny Potter, Angela Ruggiero, Natalie Darwitz and so many more have helped build the on-ice legacy of the Minnesota Whitecaps. As much as I would love to write a big piece about the full history of the Whitecaps, we're going to keep things in the PHF era.
The Minnesota Whitecaps did a lot of winning in their PHF lifetime. Heck, they won the Isobel Cup in their 2018-2019 inaugural season, becoming the league's first-ever expansion team to do so.
They stepped onto the NWHL scene with motivation to continue to show the hockey world the talent and heart that resides in the State of Hockey, and to honour the history of those who had worn that Whitecaps name years before them.
The Whitecaps finished their time in the PHF with a regular season record of 48-34-6. In addition to their Isobel Cup win, they qualified for three other additional Isobel Cup Finals. If you’re doing the math at home, in their five PHF seasons the Whitecaps only failed to qualify for one Isobel Cup Final. One.
During their time in the PHF the Whitecaps have had Patty Kazmaier Award winners, Olympic gold medalists, All-Stars, and some of the best to ever play in the history of the league. I have done my best to put together my picks for the Minnesota Whitecaps all-time starting roster. When putting it together I wasn’t necessarily trying to just focus on the “best” players that took to the ice for the Whitecaps. My decisions on this roster came from their legacy while playing in the PHF and the lasting impact they made to the team and their beloved fans.
MIN Franchise Leaders (PHF Era):
Games Played: Jonna Albers (95)
Points: Jonna Albers (115)
Goals: Allie Thunstrom (54)
Assists: Jonna Albers (65)
Wins: Amanda Leveille (50)
Shutouts: Amanda Leveille (9)
My picks for Minnesota’s All-Time Roster in the PHF Era:
F - Jonna Albers
F - Allie Thunstrom
F - Audra Morrison
D - Winny Brodt-Brown
D - Amanda Boulier
G - Amanda Leveille
Last season Jonna Albers hit the century mark as she became the third player in PHF history to score 100 points and the fastest to ever do it. During her time in the league, Albers quietly developed into the most consistent and best player we might have ever seen in the PHF. The four-time all-star led a stacked Whitecaps team in their inaugural NWHL season with 19 points in 16 regular season games. Albers and the Whitecaps went on to win their first ever Isobel Cup that season.
Her best point total season in black and blue came in the following season where the Whitecaps Championship roster saw a massive shakeup when the PWHPA was formed in the off-season. Albers scored a career-high 36-points in 20 games played tied with teammate, Allie Thunstrom and Boston’s McKenna Brand for second in the league scoring race. Her production didn’t just stop in the regular season. Albers helped lead Minnesota to four Isobel Cup Finals (2019- MIN, 2020 - COVID, 2021 - BOS, 2023 - TOR). During those playoff runs she played in 8 games where she recorded 14 points where she was Minnesota’s best forward in almost every game.
Albers has been on the Whitecaps PHF journey from day one and the Elk River, MN native has done so much for the game of hockey throughout her time there. She is undoubtedly the best skater to ever play for the Whitecaps in the PHF era. In my opinion, she might go down as one of the best players in the history of the PHF.
Hockey is a fast sport. The game can change at a dime at any point, which is part of what makes it so entertaining. Now there’s fast, then there’s Allie Thunstrom. The Maplewood, MN-born winger spent her time in the PHF as one of the most electric players the league had to offer.
She is clutch, skilled, and oh so fast. Similar to Albers, Thunstrom was with the Whitecaps since their inaugural NWHL season. Thunstrom found herself towards the bottom of the lineup for the Whitecaps that first season during their Cup run. Despite that she still had 5 goals in 16 regular season games. During the next three seasons with the Whitecaps, she was a point-per-game player with 57 points in 48 regular-season games. Allie Thunstrom’s ability to finish just about every breakaway chance she could create herself made her deserving of this spot alone, but her attitude off the ice is what made her into the Minnesota Whitecaps legend she is today. In her time in Minnesota you’d never see her skip a shift, a workout or a moment with a fan both young and old. When you watched her play or talk about the team, you could tell how much she loved being a Whitecap.
If you searched up the words consistent and reliable in a local Minnesota library, a photo of Audra Morrison would be one of your top results. The pesky scoring winger was looking for a place to continue her professional career when she left the Metropolitan Riveters following the 2018-19 NWHL season when she ultimately decided to return home.
Morrison and the Minnesota Whitecaps were a match made in heaven. In her first season with the Whitecaps, she more than doubled her previous season point totals. Richards was a staple on the Minnesota power-play alongside Thunstrom and Albers and she was never afraid to make some noise in front of the net. To top it all off she had a silky wrist shot.
As she balanced being an elementary school teacher and an elite professional hockey player, Morrison shared her love for the sport with her students making lasting impacts away from the rink and the classroom. She stepped away from the sport following the 2021-22 PHF season and in the early spring of 2023 welcomed her beautiful baby boy, Mack to the world.
Winny Brodt-Brown is the Minnesota Whitecaps. Heck, Winny Brodt-Brown is women’s hockey. She was the first ever winner of the Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award for the state’s most excellent high school player. Alongside her dad Jack Brodt she helped establish the Whitecaps in 2004 following her collegiate career at the University of Minnesota . Her legacy in Minnesota was already there by the time the Whitecaps joined the NWHL and she continued to cement it more as she was named captain ahead of their inaugural season. Brodt-Brown wore the “C” with pride from the moment she stepped onto the ice that first season, to when she raised the Isobel Cup months later, and all the way until she retired at the end of the 2021-22 PHF season.
Brodt-Brown played a massive role on the Whitecaps blueline as a steady stay-at-home defender. The way she impacted the team on the ice, in the locker room and with the community through the years, she was the epitome of what it means to be a leader. She played until she was 42 and put her heart and soul into the team.
I personally could watch Amanda Boulier skate with the puck for hours on end and never get bored of it. During her time in the PHF she established herself as one of the greatest defenders in league history. Boulier spent a season with the Connecticut Whale before joining her hometown team in their inaugural season. Throughout that season, she played alongside Team USA star Lee Stecklein. Together they created the perfect storm of size, speed, and incredibly high hockey IQ. Throughout their Isobel Cup Championship run, Boulier had a goal and an assist in the semi-final game.
Amanda Leveille is the greatest goaltender in PHF history. In seven seasons, she only had one regular-season SV% lower than a .918, only to earn a .944 SV% in the playoffs that year and win an Isobel Cup. She won goaltender of the year twice. She is the all-time league leader in wins. She has two Isobel Cups. She also arguably always had the best equipment setup.
Leveille had become a household name in the PHF before she became the Whitecaps' first official signing when they entered the league. She had taken the Buffalo Beauts to their second-straight Isobel Cup Final where they fell short of back-to-back Isobel Cups. Although she was born in Kingston, Ontario, Leveille's signing in Minnesota was a return home: she played her collegiate career with the University of Minnesota where she won not one, not two but three National Championships with the Gophers. The State of Hockey knew everything that “Lev” was about.
In that first season in Minnesota, she backstopped the team to the Isobel Cup Final, recording a .923 SV% in 16 regular season games. In her only losing season with the Whitecaps in 2021-22, she had a career regular season best .937 SV% and still led her team to another Isobel Cup Final.
When she was healthy, she played in every single game for the Whitecaps and she was the best player on the ice. Away from her play on the ice, Leveille has also been known for her witty and creative social media posts that made fans laugh and provided everyone with a deeper look into who she was away from her on-ice play. Lev is humble, relentless, and extremely talented. Women’s hockey fans have been incredibly lucky to watch her grow and thrive with the Minnesota Whitecaps.
My honourable mention picks for Minnesota’s All-Time Roster in the NWHL/PHF Era:
F - Meaghan Pezon, F - Nicole Schammel, F - Nina Rodgers
D - Chelsey Brodt-Rosenthal, D - Lee Stecklein, D - Sydney Baldwin
Winny Brodt-Brown, Sydney Brodt
Jack Brodt, Ronda Curtin Engelhardt