Beginning June 1, NWHL teams can start signing players for the 2018-19 season. For players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, the free agency period provides them an 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 – as well as the inclusion of players who participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics, this very well could 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.
— Minnesota Whitecaps (@WhitecapsHockey) August 22, 2018
On August 22 the Whitecaps signed a total of five players, headlined by the addition of Amy Menke – a former scoring star at the University of North Dakota who suited up for their team last season in addition to playing in the SDHL for nine games. Minnesota also added forward Sadie Lundquist, who was one of their two honorary representatives at the NWHL All-Star Game in St. Paul last February, and goaltender Julie Friend who played for St. Cloud State from 2011-15 and in the EWHL during the 2015-16 season.
Menke was a key contributor for UND from 2013-17, racking up 108 points (50g-58a) over 146 games before joining the then-independent Whitecaps and Djugardens IF in the SDHL during the 2017-18 season. “I expect our team to make a statement right off the bat, proving we belong in the league,” the 23-year-old Menke said in the press release announcing her signing.
“Even though it’s our inaugural season, the talent on our team will show we shouldn’t be taken lightly. Personally, I hope to bring some North Dakota grit to our team and add some offensive depth,” said Menke, who was drafted 17th overall in the 2016 NWHL Draft by the Riveters.
Lundquist played for four years (2009-13) for Bemidji State (83 points in 144 games) and as previously mentioned she represented the Whitecaps (along with Kate Schipper) at the NWHL All-Star Game at the rink that the expansion team will call home this upcoming season. “Last winter the State of Hockey showed overwhelming support for the NWHL All-Star Game here in St. Paul,” she said in the press release.
“It was incredible to take part in and I cannot wait to experience that continued passion from the community this season,” the 27-year-old added. “Thank you to the Whitecaps and the NWHL for this opportunity to continue playing and growing the game!”
Friend is from Minnetonka, Minnesota (like fellow Whitecaps goaltender Sydney Rossman) and split time with current Riveters goaltender Katie Fitzgerald over her final three NCAA seasons with St. Cloud State. The 25-year-old also spent time with the independent Whitecaps last season.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity to be on the Whitecaps in their inaugural season in the NWHL and I look forward to getting started,” she told The Hockey Writers. “Thank you to all my coaches, friends and family who have helped me get to this point.”
The Whitecaps now have 16 players under contract as they get ready to make their NWHL debut on October 6 when they host the defending Isobel Cup champion Metropolitan Riveters for a two-game weekend series.
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.