On June 5 the Connecticut Whale brought back a familiar face, re-signing defender Elena Orlando for her fourth season with the Pod and fifth season in the NWHL. The signing now gives the Whale three blueliners (Shannon Doyle, Taylor Marchin) on the roster who all played together last season. That familiarity will help in what could be a very different looking league this season with 200+ players planning not to participate in any North American leagues.
Orlando, who turns 27 later this month, is all about the defensive side of the game and her shot-blocking ability easily outweighs her point production. She’s played in 61 career NWHL games and 16 in each of her past two seasons with Connecticut.
“I would describe myself as a reliable defender that isn’t afraid to play aggressively and block shots,” said Orlando, who has been credited with 55 blocked shots (seems low) during her NWHL career. She also only has 22 penalty minutes during her pro career, which is a lower number than you’d think considering she is often on the ice against the league’s top players each weekend.
“Elena is a fierce competitor who has gained respect throughout the NWHL as a player since the first season,” said Connecticut GM Bray Ketchum who was teammates with Orlando on the New York Riveters during the first NWHL season. “She brings experience, commitment, and hard work to the Whale lineup.”
“I played on boys’ teams because there weren’t any programs for girls near me, and I dreamed of playing in the NHL because there wasn’t an NWHL at the time. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity,” said Orlando who is a native of Chico, California.
Love of the Game
Following the 2016-17 season, Orlando was named a co-recipient of the NWHL Foundation Award, which goes to the players most actively applying the core values of hockey to her community, as well as improving hockey culture. When she isn’t on the ice she is a nursing consultant in Connecticut and before joining the NWHL she was a dual-sport athlete her final two years at Quinnipiac, playing hockey and rugby.
“I have loved my time in the NWHL and I believe it’s very important to continue to build the league and advance the game for future generations,” said Orlando. There are no surprises with her game, you know every weekend you are going to get a fierce battle on the ice when the veteran blueliner is suiting up for Connecticut.
This is what the Whale roster currently looks like:
Defense: Shannon Doyle, Taylor Marchin, Elena Orlando
Forward: Kendra Broad
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 Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up-to-date on Buffalo and Boston’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and the Riveters. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
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.