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.
Expect the 2018-19 Minnesota Whitecaps to be a legitimate contender for the Isobel Cup championship. Since the inception of the team into the NWHL back in May, they have made multiple signings that will ensure their success from the get-go. Thus far Minnesota has made primarily “big name” signings by adding the reigning Best Goaltender in the league along with three Olympians. Complimentary to those signings, they have also been assembling the pieces needed to have depth to their roster.
On Aug. 8, 2018 the Whitecaps announced that they had signed a versatile utility player in Meaghan Pezon. The 30-year-old skater has the capability of playing either defender or forward. A player with such a skill set has proven to be most useful since the start of the league. Multiple teams have sought to have a player on their roster capable of filling a similar role as Pezon will do for Minnesota.
BREAKING: The @WhitecapsHockey have signed Meaghan Pezon.
— NWHL (@NWHL) August 8, 2018
In the announcement of her signing, Pezon shared the following sentiments:
“I’m unbelievably honored and incredibly excited to be back playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps in their inaugural season in the NWHL,” she stated. “Having been a part of the Whitecaps organization in the past and seeing all the organization has done to get to this point, the day the NWHL announcement was made was a special day. I want to thank everyone involved with the NWHL for this opportunity, as well as the countless people within the Whitecaps organization who have been there since day one to make this opportunity happen. These have been special times that I will cherish forever, and I am excited to share these moments with all the little girls that share this same dream!”
THW takes a closer look at the Pezon signing and what it will mean for Minnesota.
A Successful College Career
Pezon is a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota and forged a respectable NCAA hockey career at nearby St. Cloud State University. She played for the Huskies from the 2006-07 season through 2009-10. That comprised a total of 137 collegiate games. Within that time Pezon scored 41 goals and 54 assists for a total of 95 points in her college career.
Speaking further to her versatility as a player, Pezon produced offensively in all situations during her time with the Huskies. Of her 41 career goals, 11 of them came on the power play, two were shorthanded, and six held up to be game-winners. Her finest campaign was arguably her senior year when Pezon scored 12 goals, had career highs in assists (26), points (38), and game-winning goals (three).
Coinciding with her well-balanced play was the fact that she could play both ends of the ice. Assuming the role of either a forward or a defender is nothing new for Pezon, and it stems back to at least St. Cloud State.
“Throughout my career I have played both forward and defense,” Pezon stated in the press release. “Although I have played defense for the Whitecaps in the past, I would consider myself an offensive forward. I love to shoot the puck and make plays with my linemates. I love the creativity of the game of hockey. I’m hoping to bring the fans of the Whitecaps creative and exciting plays, while continuing to take care of my defensive responsibilities.”
Importance of Adding Veteran Whitecaps
Since graduating from St. Cloud State in 2010, Pezon has been a member of the Whitecaps prior to their being brought into the NWHL. For those who have followed the team since its beginnings, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that it is important for the NWHL version of the team to retain long-term Whitecaps such as Pezon. At the very least it shows a level of respect and commitment for the players who helped build and establish the team to begin with.
Going beyond that however, the transition from independent play into a professional league is something very new. In instances when a new beginning needs to take shape – even if it is something beautifully positive such as the Whitecaps joining the NWHL – you need a multitude of constants to bridge the proverbial gap. A player as established with the team as Pezon is able to be one of those steadying constants.
Continuing on in the press release, she spoke about the excitement for Minnesota fans and women’s hockey fans in general:
“I would like to see the Whitecaps come into the league and give all NWHL fans very exciting and competitive hockey games. My hope is the Whitecaps can have a successful season for the fans in Minnesota. I’d also like to see the Whitecaps be very positive role models in the community and continue the work of growing the game for all the young girls out there! I want to see the Whitecaps make the State of Hockey proud.”
As of Aug. 8, here is how the Whitecaps roster looks thus far:
Goalie: Amanda Leveille.
Defense: Lee Stecklein.
Forward: Hannah Brandt, Kate Schipper, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Allie Thunstrom, Meaghan Pezon (defender/forward).