From May 1-31 NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2016-17 roster and their draft picks during the restricted free agency period, and beginning on June 1 any unsigned players left will be free to sign with any team. The third season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Buffalo Beauts begin defense of their Isobel Cup championship, and with up to 12 players unable to participate in the league this season due to their selection for Team USA’s 2018 Olympic team, this will be the most competitive season yet.
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 New York.
On July 24th the Riveters re-signed the first overall pick in the 2016 NWHL Draft Kelsey Koelzer — who had joined the team and played in their semifinal playoff game against Buffalo. Koelzer adds a local flavor to the team as she starred at Princeton University and developed in the New Jersey Rockets girls’ program – just like teammates Lauren Wash and Miye D’Oench.
“I learned a lot in the brief time I spent with the Riveters last season,” said Koelzer in a press release, as she now joins Ashley Johnston, Kiira Dosdall, Courtney Burke and Jenny Ryan on the blue line. “Having the experience now with the speed of the game will help me when we get back to work come October. I’m very proud to be part of the NWHL as it continues to grow in so many ways.”
Two days after bringing back Koelzer, New York also re-signed Michelle Picard to bring their total of defenders under contract for the upcoming season to six. Last season, her first in the NWHL, she had two goals/eight points while playing in all 18 games. The Harvard grad rejoins a defense corps that should be among the best in the league next season.
“Last year we had a great season with the Riveters, but came up short of our expectations. This year we aim to bring home the Isobel Cup to our loyal fans,” said Picard – who also is a tutor and teaching assistant at Greater Oaks Charter School in Newark in a press release. My experience with the NWHL has been greater than I imagined.”
I'm so pumped for another season with the @NYRiveters !Counting down the days until the squad is reunited!
— Michelle Picard (@shellfish20) July 26, 2017
“I love working, teaching, and coaching young people. I also coach with Hockey in New Jersey (HNJ), which provides kids in Newark, Jersey City, and Englewood the opportunity to play hockey for free. I have absolutely loved my time coaching with this organization and I look forward to coaching with them again this season.”
Here is the Riveters roster as of July 30:
Goalie: Katie Fitzgerald, Sarah Bryant
Defense: Ashley Johnston, Kiira Dosdall, Courtney Burke, Jenny Ryan, Kelsey Koelzer, Michelle Picard
Forward: Tatiana Rafter, Rebecca Russo, Miye D’Oench, Lauren Wash, Cheeky Herr, Alexa Gruschow, Lindsey Hywla, Bray Ketchum
On July 27 the Whale came to terms with forward Sam Faber who returns to the franchise for a third season. Over the course of 31 career games the 30-year-old has accumulated 14 points (6g-8a) and amazingly eleven of those points (5g-6a) have come against Buffalo. That’s good news for Connecticut fans when they play the defending champion Beauts this upcoming season.
“I couldn’t hang up the skates when I heard the Whale were moving back to Stamford – the city where I live,” Faber said in a press release. I am super-excited to be back and have my friends and family come and watch me play another year.”
“Playing professional hockey has been a dream of mine,” the Long Island native added. “The best part of being in the NWHL is seeing the young girls at our games or around rinks in the area realizing they now have something to dream about. It’s a very humbling experience and I want to do everything I can to continue to grow the sport that has given me so much in my life.”
Faber is currently giving back to the sport as much as she can as the Hockey Director at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut and already has had an immense influence on young girls and boys learning the game.
Here is the Whale roster as of July 30:
Goalie: Sydney Rossman
Defense: Cydney Roesler, Shannon Doyle, Anya Battaglino, Rachel Ade
Forward: Kelly Babstock, Juana Baribeau, Stephanie Mock, Sam Faber
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.