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 1, 2018
On August 1 the Whitecaps signed Allie Thunstrom, a player who played for them while they were an independent team (2011-12) before embarking on a career in speed skating. She starred at Boston College (2006-10), putting up 139 points (86g-53a) in 141 games with the Eagles, and was voted a Hockey East All-Star three times before she played for the USWNT at the Four Nations Cup in 2010 and 2015.
“The NWHL – the opportunity to play professional hockey – has been something that every young hockey player has dreamed of, and to see that happen is humbling,” the 30-year-old Thunstrom said in the league’s press release announcing her signing. “The fact that a league now exists for players to play competitively after college is a really big deal and an opportunity people who played even just a few years before us didn’t have. I can’t wait to hit the ice and represent the State of Hockey in the Whitecaps’ inaugural NWHL season.”
In 2012 the Maplewood, Minnesota native began her career in speed skating, just missing qualification for the 2018 Winter Olympics. “I will likely still speed skate a bit, but hockey will be my top priority this year. Speed skating has been an adventure over the last few years and I’ve loved every second of it, but right now hockey has to be my main focus,” Thunstrom added.
“Hockey has been a sport that I have devoted so much to. I couldn’t pass up the chance to play on the first Minnesota professional team and it wouldn’t feel right to not give it everything I’ve got. My goal this year is to be the best teammate I can and help my team out wherever I can. We will have a very talented group and I hope that will translate into some great competition and success within the league. At the end of the day, I hope we can make Minnesota proud to call us their newest professional team.”
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.