With their number one goalie and number one center already re-signed for next year, the next logical move for the Connecticut Whale was to re-sign their number one defender and they did just that on April 10. The team announced that Captain and two-time All-Star Shannon Doyle would be returning for her sixth season with the franchise and NWHL.
“I’m honored to re-sign with the Whale for my sixth season in the NWHL,” said the Ontario native in the press release announcing her signing.
Doyle, who is an original member of the Whale, is third on the team’s all-time scoring list with 36 points (7g-29a) in 85 games. She is the franchise leader in games played (85), assists (29), PiMs (100), and this past season her 11 points (2g-9a) was tied for the team lead.
Blocks For Books
The recently-turned 28-year-old also led the league in blocked shots with 65 and her #BlocksForBooks campaign helped to raise $2,288 for Room to Read, which will send 2,288 books around the globe to help children access literature that they wouldn’t generally have access to.
“We’re excited to welcome back Shannon for her sixth season,” said GM Bray Ketchum Peel. “She brings experience, leadership and most of all, lots of blocked shots! She is relentless and devoted to being part of the Whale franchise.”
Following the re-signings of goaltender Brooke Wolejko and center Emma Vlasic, adding Doyle to that foundation assures that the Whale are already gearing up to build off of the culture established once the calendar flipped to 2020.
After snapping a lengthy winless streak on Jan. 11, Doyle proclaimed the Whale had turned a corner and refocused their group, which at times, was in flux for various reasons. She was right, as Connecticut battled the league’s top teams in games that could have gone either way and went on to win its first playoff game in four years – a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Beauts where the Whale scored their most goals in a game since January 2017.
“We had a big team meeting to start the new year, and we said ‘it’s a new year, let’s find out who we really want to be.’ It didn’t matter if we were ahead or if we were behind in a game,” Doyle said back in January. “We just keep saying: we’re winning this game. That’s a mindset we haven’t had yet.”
Everything about the Whale changed after that win in January. The group really rallied around one another and with a balanced lineup they were able to compete with every other team in the NWHL and that’s not something that everyone was saying prior to that.
Part of that is the stability behind the bench with Head Coach Colton Orr, part of that was adding talented players like Janine Weber, Allie LaCombe, and Katelynn Russ, and part of it was Doyle’s leadership and passion for the team, sport, and league.
“Connecticut is my home and the Whale have become my family over the years, so it is a dream to have the opportunity to wear the Whale logo on my chest again,” said Doyle.
In addition to playing in the NWHL, Doyle volunteers at hockey clinics throughout the region, teaches 7th-8th grade English at The Greenwich County Day School in Connecticut, and is the Head Coach of the school’s Girls’ Varsity hockey team.
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.