The NWHL got another major name in the league on Sunday. University of Minnesota forward Amanda Kessel has signed a one-year deal worth $26,000 with the New York Riveters. That is more than any contract from the 2015-16 season.
She’s a huge addition to the league, but will fill a badly needed gap for the Riveters, who finished at the bottom of the league last year.
“Amanda is a proven scorer and winner at every level,” said Riveters general manager Chad Wiseman. “She is an offensive threat every time she is on the ice. We believe signing Amanda is an important first step in addressing our biggest off season need.”
Kessel wasn’t expected to return to the Gopher last season as she had been dealing with concussion issues. She unexpectedly rejoined the team in early in 2016 and helped the Gopher to their fourth national title in five seasons.
Exciting day, pumped to be apart of the @NYRiveters and continue to grow women's hockey! https://t.co/Xzh72HNC5J
— Amanda Kessel (@AmandaKessel28) May 1, 2016
She played a huge role in the title, scoring the game-tying goal in the semifinals and the eventual game-winner in the championship.
“I am beyond excited to join the New York Riveters and the NWHL next season,” said Kessel in a statement. “It is a great opportunity to help the league continue to grow and be a future dream for young girls. The fact that little girls can now say they want to play in the NWHL is inspirational for me and the future of women’s hockey.
“I’m thrilled for a new opportunity and challenge,” she continued. “New York is going to be a great spot for me. I’m a competitor and I love to win, so I hope to bring my experience and contribute to a winning team and culture.”
The 2013 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award winner and U.S. National Team player exits the Gopher program 248 points in 136 collegiate games. With her collegiate career behind her, this is a big step toward being a part of the 2018 Olympic roster.
This may also go a ways toward seeing her University of Minnesota linemate Hannah Brandt join the NWHL. The Riveters acquired the rights to Brandt from the Connecticut Whale on April 27. She was selected second overall by the Whale in the 2015 NWHL draft.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.