On June 23 the Boston Pride strengthened the depth of their team with the signing of a pair of draft picks from the University of New Hampshire. With the signings of forwards Taylor Wenczkowski and Meghara McManus, the Pride has now signed four of their six selections from the 2020 NWHL Draft. Boston has already signed Sammy Davis (1st overall) and Tereza Vanisova (12th overall).
A day earlier the Toronto Six signed forward Breanne Wilson-Bennett who was a star at Colgate University before playing one season in the SDHL with MODO Hockey. Wilson-Bennett joins an eclectic group of forwards on the NWHL’s newest team as they try to duplicate the Minnesota Whitecaps’ success as an expansion team.
The Pride already had defender Jenna Rheault on their roster and signed forward Carlee Turner earlier this off-season, so the signing of the two draftees brings their roster total of UNH grads to four, with some time left to go before Season 6 kicks off.
Wenczkowski was taken 18th overall back in April after a 149-game career at UNH where she recorded 82 points (42g-40a). As a senior, she was one of the team captains.
“Taylor is incredibly skilled, competitive, and driven,” said UNH head coach Hilary Witt. “I am very proud of her accomplishments and excited to see her succeed in professional hockey with the Boston Pride.”
McManus was drafted 29th overall by the Pride and last season as a senior led the team in scoring with 27 points (17g-10a) in 36 games. During her four years at UNH, she tallied 84 points (48g-36a) over 141 games.
“Meghara fives everything she has to the game,” said Witt in the press release announcing the signings. “She scores goals, blocks shots, kills penalties, and sees the game really well. I am very proud of her and know she will excel at the next level in the NWHL.”
With the four players they have signed from this year’s draft class the Pride has set a new NWHL record for most players signed from a draft class, surpassing the three they signed from the 2017 NWHL Draft. The Buffalo Beauts currently have three players signed from the 2020 Draft, and the Connecticut Whale, the Metropolitan Riveters, and the Toronto Six have signed two players each from the same draft class.
With the signing of McManus and Wenczkowski, the Pride now has a total of 16 players signed for next season. They join She joins forwards Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, McKenna Brand, Davis, Jillian Dempsey, Vanisova, Turner, Mary Parker, and Tori Sullivan, defenders Kaleigh Fratkin, Lauren Kelly, Mallory Souliotis, and Rheault, and goaltender Lovisa Selander.
Wilson-Bennett Comes Home
Over 147 games with Colgate, Wilson-Bennett racked up 101 points (49g-52a) – including the double-overtime winning goal in the NCAA Tournament semifinal against Wisconsin as a senior. In 2018-19 with MODO Hockey she put up 20 points (8g-12a) in 21 games.
“We have a fantastic group of women at the Toronto Six and I am so grateful to be a part of this team,” said Wilson-Bennett in the press release announcing her signing. “The NWHL is a very strong league and I cannot wait to compete against such great athletes. I am looking forward to the start of a great season, and I beyond excited to be playing for the newest professional team in Toronto,” added the Markham, Ontario native.
“Breanne brings a wealth of experience and a lot of skill. From day one, she’s going to be an impact player for the Six,” said Toronto GM Mandy Cronin.
With the signing of Wilson-Bennett, the Six now have 15 players signed for their inaugural season. She joins defenders Emma Greco and Kristen Barbara, forwards Shiann Darkangelo, Taylor Woods, Kelly Babstock, Sarah Eve Coutu-Godbout, Brooke Boquist, Mikayla Grant-Mentis, Jenna McParland, Amy Curlew, Lindsay Eastwood, and Natalie Marcuzzi, and goaltenders Elaine Chuli and Samantha Ridgewell.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.