The second season of the NWHL is almost upon us, with camps set to open in a few weeks and the real games begin on the first weekend in October in Buffalo. For a league that has yet to secure a deal to air its games on television regularly, the best way to keep up with all of the players and events occurring is via social media channels and watching the games streamed over the internet. A lot of the players have been very active on social media channels, as the women know they must do their part to help grow the game, spread the message of the NWHL and it’s a great way for the fans to interact with and get to know these dynamic personalities.
This guide will help you to follow and get to know some of the great women of the Founding Four teams. The Connecticut Whale began the inaugural season on fire and held down first place for a large portion of the campaign, before finishing in second place overall behind the Boston Pride. In the postseason they were upset in the opening round by the third-seeded Buffalo Beauts in a decisive Game 3. They were also part of the first trade in league history when they acquired goaltender Shenae Lundberg from the New York Riveters in exchange for fellow tendy Chelsea Laden.
This upcoming season the Whale roster will look a bit different than last season with the departures of goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (New York), defender Kaleigh Fratkin (New York) and forward Shiann Darkangelo (Buffalo), who all left via free agency. Their big additions include a pair of former Boston College Eagles (who are a part of the US Women’s National Team — Haley Skarupa (F), Dana Trivigno (F) — and two former Riveters as practice players — Celeste Brown (F) and Elena Orlando (D).
After playing last season at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut, this season the Whale are swimming north to play their home games at the Northford Ice Pavillion (@NorthfordIce).
Kelly Babstock (@kelly_babstock on Twitter) is back with the Whale after tying with Kelli Stack for the team-lead in points (22) and six of her nine goals came via special teams (4 PP, 2 SH):
— Kelly Babstock (@kelly_babstock) January 26, 2016
— Connecticut Whale (@CTWhale_NWHL) April 4, 2016
Anya Battaglino (@battaglinoa on Twitter) rejoined the Whale as a practice player; despite being hurt most of last season she was one of the NWHL’s biggest personalities – appearing on broadcasts as an analyst and intermission interviewer in addition to doing some great charity work as well:
— Anya Packer (@battaglinoa) June 28, 2016
— Dan Rice (@DRdiabloTHW) January 9, 2016
Ivana Bilic (@ivbilic23 on Twitter) joined the Whale late in the summer as a free agent from Bemidji State when Shannon Doyle opted out of her roster spot to become a practice player.
— Connecticut Whale (@CTWhale_NWHL) July 31, 2016
Celeste Brown (@celestebrown8) joins the Whale as a practice player after spending last season with the Riveters, often matched up against the opposition’s top-line:
— Celeste Brown (@celestebrown8) December 9, 2015
Nicole Connery (@nickycons24 on Twitter) joined the Whale signing as a free agent (with two of her collegiate teammates) from Quinnipiac:
SO EXCITED TO PLAY PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY IN THE NWHL FOR THE… https://t.co/pOldcfpfFi
— Nicky Connery (@nickycons24) May 3, 2016
— NWHL (@NWHL) May 3, 2016
Shannon Doyle (@SDoyle_6 on Twitter) rejoined the Whale and then opted to become a practice player to pursue other interests. The defender played in every game last season:
— Shannon Doyle (@SDoyle_6) December 31, 2015
Molly Engstrom (@engstrom09 on Twitter) rejoins the Whale after five points from the blue line during the inaugural season. She will be the team’s You Can Play representative this season:
Let's go 🐳😁 https://t.co/OHwuYK5NrQ
— Molly Engstrom (@engstrom09) July 31, 2016
— Molly Engstrom (@engstrom09) August 3, 2016
Sam Faber (@fabersam28 on Twitter) returns for year two with the Whale after six points (3g-3a) in thirteen games and is the Hockey Director at Chelsea Piers, CT:
— Sam Faber (@fabersam28) February 17, 2016
— Sam Faber (@fabersam28) June 28, 2016
Kaliya Johnson (@kleaa42 on Twitter) joined the Whale as a free agent from Boston College and is originally from Chandler, Arizona; her boyfriend Justin Dunn is a pitching prospect in the New York Mets organization:
Thank you! Happy to officially be apart of the Whale Family! https://t.co/QXe3T7Avq3
— Kaliya Johnson (@kleaa42) May 2, 2016
— Kaliya Johnson (@kleaa42) July 5, 2016
Jessica Koizumi (@jzumi56 on Twitter) was the captain of the Whale last season and returns for season two after 7 points (2g-5a) in 15 games.
— Jess Koizumi (@jzumi56) March 15, 2016
Nicole Kosta (@KostieBear7 on Twitter) joins the Whale with two of her collegiate teammates from Quinnipiac:
Micaela Long (@mctweet16 on Twitter) is back for season two with the Whale after 10 points (3g-7a) in 17 games; she also hasn’t tweeted since 2013:
— NWHL (@NWHL) July 25, 2016
The starter jackets need to make a comeback #missthe90s
— Micaela Long (@mctweet16) January 13, 2013
Shenae Lundberg (@lundberg_s1 on Twitter) re-signed with Connecticut after she was traded from New York and will surely challenge Stock for playing time in net:
— Shenae Lundberg (@lundberg_s1) February 29, 2016
Meagan Mangene (@Mangarang on Twitter) joins the Whale after winning the Isobel Cup with Boston last season where the defender only saw action in seven games:
— Meagan Mangene (@Mangarang) July 28, 2016
— Meagan Mangene (@Mangarang) May 12, 2016
Elena Orlando (@e_orlando14 on Twitter) joins the Whale as a practice player after spending last season with the Riveters and being from the Bay Area originally, she’s a big San Jose Sharks fan:
— Elena Orlando (@e_orlando14) June 4, 2016
— Elena Orlando (@e_orlando14) November 12, 2015
Excited to announce that I have officially signed with the CT Whale!Thank you to everyone who made this possible💙 pic.twitter.com/87wMlvyDAo
— Cydney Roesler (@croesler21) May 3, 2016
Proud is an understatement❤️ Congrats on being drafted by the Washington Capitals! Keep chasing your dreams pic.twitter.com/2mAAExCWbw
— Cydney Roesler (@croesler21) June 25, 2016
Haley Skarupa (@skrooops28 on Twitter) joined the Whale as a free agent from Boston College and was originally a draft pick of the Riveters in the 2015 NWHL Draft:
Happy to be a part of the @CTWhale_NWHL for the upcoming hockey season! 🐳
— Haley Skarupa (@skrooops28) August 1, 2016
— Haley Skarupa (@skrooops28) April 5, 2016
Kelli Stack (@kstack16 on Twitter) is back with the Whale after tying with Babstock for the team-lead in points (22), which was third overall in the NWHL. Her 3 GWGs were second in the league and her 14 assists ranked her third. Humongous big Cleveland sports fan:
— Kelli Stack (@kstack16) August 2, 2016
Nicole Stock (@NicoleStock3 on Twitter) returns for year two with the Whale after posting a 4-2-0 record in the six games she played in net; she also only has six tweets, maybe we can get her to double that this season:
— Nicole Stock (@NicoleStock3) September 16, 2015
Dana Trivigno (@DANEgles8 on Twitter) joined the Whale as a free agent from Boston College and like Skarupa was originally a draft pick of the Riveters in the 2015 NWHL Draft:
— Dana Trivigno (@DANEgles8) August 3, 2016
Laura Brennan and Jackie Raines were also added as practice players but at this time we are not sure if they have Twitter accounts yet.
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.