On August 6 the Connecticut Whale announced that Kayla Meneghin had re-signed for her second season in NWHL. A three-time All-American at SUNY Plattsburgh, Meneghin appeared in ten games for the Whale last season and her lone goal came in her home state against the Metropolitan Riveters. In addition to playing in the NWHL, the Clifton, New Jersey native will be entering her second season as an assistant coach at Saint Anselm College.
The following day the team announced they had also re-signed Sarah Hughson, who would also be returning for her second season with the franchise. With so many roster changes in Connecticut over the years perhaps Meneghin and Hughson can be pillars for the franchise to build upon. After four seasons at Elmira College, Hughson appeared in 12 games for the Whale as a rookie last season. Though she may have been pointless, she was a crucial player for her team in all situations and all zones.
Born to Be Whale
Her lack of scoring wasn’t for lack of hustle as Meneghin often found herself on the doorstep of the crease for scoring chances only to have the puck miss by inches. That aspect of her game did not go unnoticed by their new GM. “We are excited to welcome Kayla back for a second year,” said Connecticut general manager Bray Ketchum. “She had a stellar college career, and now with a year of pro experience under her belt, we expect her to have a breakout season for the Whale. Her passion for hockey and growing the game is evident.”
After 117 games at SUNY Plattsburgh Meneghin was fourth all-time in NCAA Division III history in points (188) and fifth in assists (102). “I am so excited to be rejoining the Connecticut organization. This was my home last year and it was an absolute honor to be able to wear the blue and green every day,” she said in the press release announcing her signing. “I am very excited to be able to help represent this organization for the upcoming season.”
Additionally, Ketchum had high praise for Hughson, who is also an assistant coach of Choate Rosemary Hall’s varsity girls ice hockey and lacrosse teams. “Sarah is someone every coach wants on their team. She brings energy and positivity on and off the ice. Her teammates speak very highly of her and we are excited to watch her excel this season,” said the Whale GM in a press release announcing the signing.
“The vision that the Whale management has for this season and the ones to follow is very exciting, and I am grateful that I am given the opportunity to help further this program and the women’s game in any way possible,” added Meneghin. “I can’t thank the Connecticut organization enough for allowing me to continue my dreams as a hockey player and continue to be a positive influence on those who dream to be with the Whale one day. #FinsUp”
A native of East Haddam, Connecticut, Hughson is excited to be with the franchise as they begin Season 5 in a new home – Danbury Arena. “There isn’t a team I would rather be a part of and I’m pumped to see what Danbury has in store for us,” said the 24-year-ol forward. “Playing in the NWHL allows me to compete with and against some of the best players and people in the sport, and to be able to reach out and inspire young athletes with the same dreams I had at their age. I am so excited to enter my second season with the Whale and the NWHL.”
In what could be as wide open of a league as we’ve ever seen in the NWHL the Whale could finally turn around whatever hex has been on them since they started the inaugural season of the league on fire winning eight in a row and eleven of their first twelve games.
This is what the Whale roster currently looks like on August 7:
Defense: Shannon Doyle, Taylor Marchin, Elena Orlando, Jordan Brickner
Forward: Kendra Broad, Jane Morrisette, Grace Klienbach, Emma Vlasic, Kayla Meneghin, Sarah Hughson
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.