PWHL Signing Round-Up: The American Teams

Let's take a look at who the three US-based PWHL teams have signed before training camp opens this week!

PWHL Signing Round-Up: The American Teams
Four of Boston's signees - from left, Aerin Frankel, Megan Keller, and Hannah Brandt - pose with general manager Danielle Marmer at the PWHL Draft. (Photo credit: PWHL)

A number of draftees and free agents have inked a PWHL contract. Although the rosters have started to take shape, it is still too early to decide who is the front runner and who the dark horse may be.

Let's take a look at who the three US-based PWHL teams have signed before training camp opens this week!

We begin our story in New York. 

Former Isobel Cup champion Emma Woods signed a one-year deal. The forward served as an alternate captain for two seasons with the PHF’s Toronto Six. Woods played two seasons in the CWHL and one season in the SDHL. Woods is a Quinnipiac University alumna. She racked up 106 points in 149 games with the Bobcats. Woods was also the captain in her senior year. 

Emma Woods ( center ) PWHL Draft. Credit: PWHL

Team Canada’s Jessie Eldridge signed a two-year deal. The forward has spent the last four seasons with the PWHPA and prior to that, she played at Colgate University. Eldridge was the program’s first-ever Patty Kazmaier Award top-10 finalist and the program’s top leading scorer with 163 points. 

Forward Kayla Vespa also signed a one-year deal with the club. She spent the last three seasons with the PWHPA where she scored 5 points in 11 games. Prior to her professional days, she spent 4 seasons at St. Lawrence University where she racked up 68 points. 

Team Canada and Boston Pride standout Èlizabeth Giguère will be spending the inaugural season in New York. She was third in scoring with the Pride scoring 22 points in 18 games. In 2002, Giguére was awarded the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for her performance with the University of Minnesota-Deluth. 

Defender Brooke Hobson signed a one-year deal with PWHL New York. She spent a year in the SDHL where she earned 20 points in 32 games. She spent five years with the Northeastern Huskies where she was a captain for two seasons and was named a three-time Hockey East All-Star. 

After a dominant season with the Montreal Force, Jade Downie-Landry agreed with a one-year deal. She posted 33 points in 24 games with the Force. Downie-Landry is the first USport player to be drafted in PWHL history. 

Team Canada’s Ella Shelton will spend the next three seasons in New York after signing her initial contract. She is no stranger to success. She won a gold medal in the 2022 Olympics against the United States and back-to-back national championships with Clarkson University. 

Alexandra Labelle joins the forward group in New York on a one-year contract. Most recently, she played with the Montreal Force and finished third in scoring. Before joining the PHF, Labelle was a member of the PWHPA. She played at the University of Montreal and won a National Championship in her first season. 

Olivia Zafuto signed a one-year deal with PWHL New York. Zafuto spent last season with the PHF’s Boston Pride. Prior to the PHF, she played in the PWHPA and SDHL. Her college career was spent at Colgate University. Zafuto is the highest-scoring defender in Colgate Raider history.

Shipping up to Boston 

Alina Müller will bolster Boston’s offense for the next three seasons. The forward was the first international player drafted at the inaugural PWHL Draft. She graduated from Northeastern University where she became the all-time leader in points and assists. Müller was also a five-time finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. Outside of her time in Boston, she has established herself as one of Switzerland’s best. She has played in 3 Olympic tournaments and seven IIHF World Championships. 

Alina Müller at the PWHL draft Credit: PWHL

Emma Söderberg offers Boston security in net for the next three years. The Swedish Player of the Year has played across the globe in international tournaments, the Olympics, and at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She had 23 career shutouts and earned 12 of those in one season. 

Jamie Lee Rattray will be in Boston for the next three years. Rattray’s resume speaks for itself. She won a gold medal at the 2022 Olympics. Her trophy case includes six IIHF Women’s Worlds medals, a National Championship with Clarkson University as well as her Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. She also won the Clarkson Cup and CWHL MVP for the 2017-18 season. Rattray’s most recently spent the last four years with the PWHPA. 

Theresa Schafzahl agreed to a two-year deal with the club. Schafzahl is a forward who spent the last five seasons at the University of Vermont. Her forty-six-point campaign earned her a spot as a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist back in 2021-22. The following year she served as team captain and tallied a total of forty-five points. Schafzahl has represented her home country of Austria for nearly a decade now at the IIHF Women’s World Championships. 

Sophie Shirley signed a one-year contract with PWHL Boston. She spent five years at the University of Wisconsin and helped bring home three National Championships. Shirley was over a point per game player with the Badgers, totaling 188 points in 178 games. Before going to college, Shirley played for the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno where she was named Rookie of the Year.

Emma Buckles returns to Boston on a one-year deal. Buckles is a defender who spent five years at Harvard University. She tallied seventeen points in her final year. Buckles earned ECAC Hockey First-Team All-League and All-Ivy First-Team honors. She and Sophie Shirley represented Canada at the 2017 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship together. Prior to the PWHL, Buckles spent one year with the PWHPA. 

Hannah Brandt signed a one-year deal. Brandt’s resume includes two Olympic campaigns including a gold and silver medal. She has competed with Team USA in give IIHF Women’s World Championships. Brandt attended the University of Minnesota where she won three National Championships and finished as Patty Kazmaier finalist four times. She won an Isobel Cup with the Minnesota Whitecaps back in 2019. Brandt also played with the PWHPA from 2019-21 and then again in 2022-23. 

Hannah Brandt ( third from left ) at the PWHL draft. Credit: PWHL

Jess Healy and her defensive skills will be in Boston for the inaugural season. Healy earned seven points in twenty-four games with the Buffalo Beauts. She played three seasons overseas and spent time at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She represented Canada at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship where she brought home a gold medal. 

Emily Brown joins Boston’s blueline for a year. Brown spent five seasons at the University of Minnesota where she earned three-straight All WCHA Second Team honors as well as ALL WCHA Third Team recognition.  She played the second-most games in Golden Gopher history. Brown makes her U.S. National team debut in the 2022-23 Rivalry Series. 

Kaleigh Fratkin is also returning to Boston on a one-year contract. Fratkin was a member of the Boston, Connecticut Whale, and the New York Riveters. She was the highest scoring defender in PHF history. Fratkin tallied 86 points in 138 games. She is also one of four players that competed in all eight PHF seasons. Fratkin played at Boston University and started her professional career in the CWHL with a Clarkson Cup championship. 

Taylor Girard signed a two-year deal with Boston. The former Connecticut Whale forward eas tied for third in PHF scoring last season. It was over a point-per-game campaign with twenty eight points in twenty four games. Girard played three years at Lindenwood University and wrapped up her NCAA career with two years at Quinnipiac University.

Add another Jessica to Boston’s roster, defender Jessica Digirolmao is there to stay. DiGirolamo signed a two-year deal after playing five seasons at Syracuse University. She makes her National Team debut in the first two Rivalry Series games against the United States. DiGirolamo was named CHA Best Defenseman and received All-CHA First Team honors in her final two seasons. She graduated as the career goals and points by a defender. 

Nicole Kosta agreed to a one year deal with PWHL Boston. She has played with the PHF’s Connecticut Whale, CWHL’s Markham Thunder, and most recently the PWHPA. Kosta has won a Clarkson cip alongside teammate Jamie Lee Rattray. Kosta and General Manager Danielle Marmer played together at Quinnipiac University. Kosta is the second all-time leading scorer in Bobcat history. 

Shiann Darkangelo signed a one-year deal with Boston. Most recently, Darkangelo won the Isobel Cup with the Toronto Six. She scored twenty-five points in twenty-four games. Darkangelo will provide consistent offense for Boston along with the ability to lead a locker room. She served as the Toronto Six’s only captain. The forward played for the Connecticut Whale as well as the Buffalo Beauts where she won the Isobel Cup in 2016-17. Darkangelo spent two seasons with the CWHL as well as one with the PWHPA. 

Shiann Darkangelo during the Isobel Cup Final Credit: Kayla Franz

Loren Gabel returns to Boston on a two-year deal. Gabel spent the 2022-23 season with the Boston Pride earning Outstanding Player of the Year as well as MVP. She tallied forty points in just twenty-two games. Prior to the PHF, the forward spent three seasons with the PWHPA. The 2019 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner won back-to-back National Championships with Clarkson University.  

Bundle up, we’re headed to Minnesota! 

Nicole Hensley was the first goaltender drafted at the PWHL Innagural Draft. Hensley has played for the U.S. National Women’s Team and won two medals in 2018 and 2022. She played for the Buffalo Beauts in 2018 and then played with the PWHPA from 2019-21 and 2022-23. 

Grace Zumwinkle signed a three-year deal and will be reunited with University of Minnesota teammate Taylor Heise. Zumwinkle is a Minnesota native who had a career-high sixty-one points in thirty-nine games. On top of being a World Champion, she is also a Silver Medalist Olympian. 

Grace Zumwinkle at the PWHL draft Credit: PWHL

Susanna Tapani has officially signed a two-year contract. She is a three-time Olympian medaling twice with Finland. Tapani’s resume includes stops at the University of North Dakota, SDHL, Naisten Liiga and Russia. She won a championship with the KRS Vanke Rays in 2021-22 as well. 

Wrapping up 

Rosters are filling out as training camp inches closer. The Ice Garden has a live tracker where you can stay up to date with the signings minute by minute.