Beginning June 1, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2017-18 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 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 Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
The Minnesota Whitecaps roster is being rounded out quite nicely. With the 2018-19 NWHL regular season looming just around the corner, the announcement was made on Sept. 5, 2018 that Minnesota had signed seven skaters to their roster, three of which were defenders. Tanja Eisenschmid, original Whitecap Winny Brodt-Brown, and her sister Chelsey Brodt-Rosenthal are the latest blueliners to ink with the team.
The Whitecaps may have the most interesting options on defense out of any of the NWHL teams. They now presently have six total blueliners on their roster, but they also have two players – Lauren Barnes and Meaghan Pezon – who are each capable of playing either forward or defense. The team currently has 23 players under contract, including three goaltenders. Minnesota still is able to add two more skaters, so it will likely not be until exhibition play occurs that we will get our first glimpse of how the defense is assembled and utilized. Even then, the options will remain open all season for the Whitecaps coaching staff.
THW takes a closer look at each of the three added defenders individually. All of them are veteran players in their own right, and bring unique experience to the Whitecaps locker room.
At 40 years old, Brodt-Brown will be the oldest player to have competed in the NWHL since the league’s inception. She will turn 41 in February while the 2018-19 season is still in play. The native of Roseville, Minnesota has played for the Whitecaps since their establishment in 2004. At 5-foot-4 and 130 pounds, Brodt-Brown is a topnotch skater and very sound with her decision making. Enough so that portions of her career were also spent playing the center position.
“We are going to see the game get even better because all these college kids have a bigger reason to play.” —Winny Brodt-Brown pic.twitter.com/eMfWGkKRik
— Minnesota Whitecaps (@WhitecapsHockey) May 15, 2018
A left-handed shot, Brodt-Brown began her NCAA hockey career at the University of New Hampshire during the 1997-98 season. In her lone year with the Wildcats, she tallied 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 39 games. Brodt-Brown would make a return to her native state to finish out her collegiate career. Playing for the University of Minnesota for the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons, plus one final year in 2002-03, she amassed 41 goals and 93 assists for 134 points in only 85 games for the Golden Gophers. In total, Brodt-Brown’s NCAA career saw her compile 52 goals, 116 assists and 168 points in 124 career games.
Additionally, Brodt-Brown is a 2-time member of USA’s Women’s National Team. She won silver medals at the 2000 and 2001 IIHF Women’s World Championships. In 10 games between the two years Brodt-Brown recorded five assists. Signing her to the NWHL’s version of the Whitecaps was a necessary move. Consider it a means of keeping a legacy intact, and honoring the history of the team. Brodt-Brown is the heart and soul of this hockey club.
Continuing the international growth and flavor of the league, Germany’s Eisenschmid brings both Olympic and World Championship experience to Minnesota. The 25-year-old defender has represented her country in international play since the 2009 Women’s U18 World Championships. Eisenschmid captained the German U18 team in 2011 for the tournament in Stockholm, Sweden. After those younger years, Eisenschmid has played for the German Women’s National Team since just before her 18th birthday. That includes competing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games where she picked up an assist in five tournament games. Eisenschmid’s sister Nicola has played alongside her for Germany as well.
In addition to her international play, Eisenschmid played four seasons of NCAA hockey at the University of North Dakota. In 133 games during her college career, she potted seven goals and 32 assists for 39 points. That includes a career plus/minus rating of plus-36 and a total of 98 penalty minutes. Her finest season was her junior year (2014-15) when Eisenschmid set career highs in games played (37), goals (three), assists (11), points (14) and plus/minus (plus-11).
This signing bodes well for the Whitecaps. Eisenschmid previously played for the organization this past 2017-18 season. She brings skillful puck movement, physicality, and a great deal of experience while still being relatively young.
Similar to to her sister, Brodt-Rosenthal is a veteran defender. At 35 years of age she played all four years of NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota. Both sisters were teammates on the Golden Gophers for one year during the 2002-03 season. Brodt-Rosenthal earned an NCAA championship with the Golden Gophers during the 2003-04 season.
OFFICIAL: Welcome to Minnesota Tanja Eisenschmid, Kalli Funk, Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal and Haylea Schmid!
— Minnesota Whitecaps (@WhitecapsHockey) September 5, 2018
There are a considerable amount of differences between the two sisters. Brodt-Rosenthal is a righty with her shot, while Brodt-Brown is a lefty. Brodt-Brown has more of an upswing on offense and with her point production, where as Brodt-Rosenthal is more along the lines of a stay-at-home, highly physical defender. Case in point, during Brodt-Rosenthal’s career at U of M she played 151 career games. In that time she scored only seven goals and 36 assists for 43 points. Meanwhile, she compiled a sizable 146 penalty minutes to average nearly a penalty minute per game, and finished her career as an overall plus-94.
Bottom line is that by signing Brodt-Rosenthal, the Whitecaps have brought aboard an excellent defensive-defender. Though it has happened already, it is not a common occurrence for sisters to play in the NWHL together, let alone on the same team. Brodt-Rosenthal will provide much of the same guidance and leadership as her sister.
As of Sept. 5, here is how the Whitecaps roster looks thus far:
Goalie: Amanda Leveille, Sydney Rossman, Julie Friend.
Defense: Lee Stecklein, Amanda Boulier, Emma Stauber, Tanja Eisenschmid, Chelsey Brodt-Rosenthal, Winny Brodt-Brown .
Forward: Hannah Brandt, Kate Schipper, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Allie Thunstrom, Meaghan Pezon (defender/forward), Lauren Barnes (defender/forward), Brooke White-Lancette, Jonna Curtis, Amy Menke, Sadie Lundquist, Katie McGovern, Kalli Funk, Margo Lund, Haylea Schmid.