Leveille First Player to Sign with Whitecaps

Beginning June 1, NWHL teams can sign players. 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. Players who were not drafted by an NWHL team, or who have previously played in a different league, in Europe or otherwise, are free agents and may sign with any team that offers them a contract.

The fourth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Metropolitan Riveters defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with the addition of a fifth team – the Minnesota Whitecaps – this will be the most competitive season yet. My colleague Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up-to-date on Boston and Buffalo’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and the Riveters. Together we will collaborate to keep readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings. 

Beauts Add Babstock

Beauts Ink Three Rookies

Olympian Hensley Signs with Buffalo

The Minnesota Whitecaps made their first free agent signing as a member of the NWHL and it’s a name and face familiar to fans there: Amanda Leveille, who starred for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers while helping them win three NCAA championships. Leveille was also one of the captains at the most recent NWHL All-Star Game, which was held in the Twin Cities.

Katie Fitzgerald, Amanda Leveille
Katie Fitzgerald of the Metropolitan Riveters and Amanda Leveille of the Buffalo Beauts smile for the camera at the 2018 NWHL All-Star Game in Minnesota. (Photo Credit: Matthew Raney)

Leveille was a draft pick (3rd Round, 12th Overall) of the Buffalo Beauts in the inaugural NWHL Draft (2015), and was a star for the team — on and off the ice — in both of her seasons there. She leaves the franchise as their all-time leader in wins (16), and shutouts (1), and last season was voted as Goaltender of the Year. Leveille will enter the upcoming season third in all-time wins amongst NWHL goalies behind only Brittany Ott (26) and Katie Fitzgerald (19).

In the NWHL playoffs, she was 2-1 for Buffalo, with both of her victories coming in the semifinal games. The one loss was in March’s Isobel Cup Final game where she only surrendered one goal and was the tough-luck loser of a thrilling 1-0 game; the previous season she honorably stepped aside and let partner Brianne McLaughlin play in the title game.

Amanda Leveille
Amanda Leveille of the Buffalo Beauts at the 2018 NWHL All-Star Game in Minnesota. (Photo Credit: Matthew Raney)

Now with the Whitecaps in Minnesota, which is closer to where the 24-year-old Leveille works and lives, she will likely continue to set records and set the bar high for the future generation of goaltenders. “I’m thankful I was a part of the Buffalo Beauts, and it wasn’t an easy decision,” Leveille told the Star Tribune. “But it’s quite an honor to be the first player to sign with the Whitecaps. I’m just so excited to be back in Minnesota and continue my professional career here.”

Leveille is a great first addition for the NWHL’s newest franchise, as it’s not often the reigning goaltender of the year changes teams during the off-season. Her presence on and off the ice will surely help bring more eyeballs to the league and the Whitecaps, who have already established their footprint in Minnesota. 

“I feel that having a team in the State of Hockey is fantastic for everyone – the fans, the players, the game, and our league. There is such a wealth of hockey talent in Minnesota that this team could draw from,” Leveille said in the NWHL’s press release. “To be a part of a new chapter in women’s hockey and to continue to grow the game is a privilege for me, and I can’t wait to wear the Whitecaps uniform.”