The Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters of the NWHL have named their captains for the 2015-16 season, the last two teams in the league to do so.
The Whale will be lead by Jessica Koizumi, with Kaleigh Fratkin serving as the squad’s as assistant captain. (Not alternate captain, the league confirms.)
For the New York Riveters, defenseman Ashley Johnston will serve as captain with Madison Packer and Morgan Fritz-Ward in as assistant captains.
Koizumi, the first player to score a goal in NWHL history, has a strong track record as a leader besides being a veteran presence on the team. She won a Clarkson Cup in the CWHL in 2013 and 2105, captained the UMD Bulldogs to the Frozen Four in 2007, won gold in the 2008 at the World Championships and serves as an assistant coach for Yale.
“Through coaching several years at a rebuilding Division I program, I have learned how important it is to have a strong leadership core,” Koizumi said talking about the importance of leadership inside the locker room.
She’s played two games for the Whale this year, scoring a goal on one of three shots.
For the Riveters, Johnston has been a surprise to many with her ability to control play with intelligence and a physical presence. She served as a captain for Union College in her senior season as well.
Through five games, Johnston has one goal, five shots and two penalty minutes for the Riveters, who have yet to score more than a single goal in a game. In her time at Union in the NCAA, she wasn’t a high-scoring presence, but has jumped up into the forecheck with frequency for the Riveters, showing a potential for more offensive contributions than was maybe initially realized. She had just six points in her senior season at Union, but led all but five players on the team with 53 shots.
“I was really shocked, honored and happy. Having Madison [Packer] and Morgan [Fritz-Ward] who each bring something different to the table, I think it really creates a well rounded leadership team along with the support of every other member of the club,” Johnston said of being named captain.
Around the League
The other two members of the league’s Founding Four announced their captains earlier in the week. Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight were named co-captains for the Boston Pride, while Buffalo-native Emily Pfalzer was named the captain of the Buffalo Beauts.
The NWHL has been on a short break while members of the league were in Sweden for the Four Nations Cup, where many NWHLers took home gold for the U.S. National Team.
All four teams are back in action on Sunday with the New York Riveters welcoming the undefeated Boston Pride to Brooklyn and the Connecticut Whale heading to Buffalo to take on the Beauts.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.