The defending Isobel Cup-champion Minnesota Whitecaps have signed their first defender of the 2019 NWHL offseason – and she is a darn good one too! Defender of the Year finalist Amanda Boulier will be returning to the team for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
Word was released on the morning of Jun. 12 that the bullet-shooting 26-year-old had been re-upped. Boulier is the fifth player to sign with the Whitecaps since free agency started on May 15, and the fourth returning member of the 2018-19 Cup-winning squad.
“The fan support at TRIA Rink in our inaugural NWHL season, highlighted by sellout crowds at all 10 home games, was a testament to the health of women’s hockey in Minnesota,” said Boulier in the press release about her signing. “We can’t wait to get started on 2019-20 and, along with our fans, defend the Isobel Cup.”
In addition to being named a finalist for Defender of the Year, Boulier was also named one of the Fans’ Three Stars of the Season. The fact that the Whitecaps will have her on their roster once again bolsters their likelihood for title defense exponentially.
One of the Most Exciting Defenders in the League
At 5-foot-1, Boulier may be diminutive but she plays the game with a great deal of tenacity and drive. Part of the reasoning behind her earning the Fans’ Three Stars nod is due to her being a sheer pleasure to watch out on the ice. Her blend of speed, skill and determination make her a genuine fan favorite.
Boulier was one of only two NWHL defenders to have reached double digits in points during 2018-19. She is lightning-quick with her skating, has no hesitancy when it comes to joining the rush, and can fire the puck with great velocity. When it comes to her own zone, Boulier backs down from no one and uses well-executed positional play to put shooters at bad angles and force them off of the puck.
Such capabilities saw Boulier generate five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 16 games. The only Whitecaps to generate more points than Boulier were recently re-signed teammate Jonna Curtis and former teammate Kendall Coyne Schofield. Additionally, Boulier was one of seven players for Minnesota to appear in all 16 regular season games and both of their playoff games.
As far as Whitecaps’ history is concerned, Boulier factored in there as well. Minnesota would play a semi-final playoff matchup against the Metropolitan Riveters on Mar. 15, 2019. When Boulier beat Riveters’ goalie Katie Fitzgerald at the 3:36-mark of the opening period, she tallied the first postseason goal in Minnesota’s NWHL history.
Boulier Completes a Whitecaps’ Trifecta
Thus far the Minnesota Whitecaps’ have completed a trifecta of sorts when it comes to free agent signings. They have already brought back their top scorer in Curtis. They made certain to secure their starting netminder and 2018 Best Goaltender winner Amanda Leveille. Now they have secured their elite defender.
Boulier finished the 2018-19 campaign with a plus-16 for her plus/minus rating. That placed her second among all Whitecaps skaters, and fourth best in the entire league. When Boulier broke into the league in 2017-18 as a member of the Connecticut Whale, her minus-1 was the third best on that team too among skaters to have played at least 10 games.
Playing on a better team in Minnesota certainly helped produce a better number, but the reliability stayed very much the same. The other important point being is that as sound is Boulier is offensively, she is never a liability in her own end.
Much of her offense is driven by her patented slap shot. While it is a powerful shot for sure, it is also a deceptive shot too. Boulier’s windup oftentimes catches opposing defenses off-guard, and she needs very little time to get the shot away. Boulier fired 40 shots on net in 2018-19 – the second most among all defenders in the entire league.
It is very much a possibility that 2020’s Best Defender recipient may very well have just been signed. At this point in the juncture, it will be difficult for other NWHL general managers to sign a better rearguard than Amanda Boulier.
Here is a look at how the Whitecap’s roster is currently shaping out as of Jun. 12:
Goaltender: Amanda Leveille
Defense: Amanda Boulier
Forward: Allie Thunstrom, Jonna Curtis, Nicole Schammel.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.