This past week the NWHL passed 70 total players signed for their upcoming sixth season as each of the six teams continued to bolster their lineups. The headline grabber was definitely standout defender Alyson Matteau signing with the Buffalo Beauts on June 24 after an exceptional career at the University of Maine.
The following day the Metropolitan Riveters signed defender Samantha Fieseler (recently played in the SDHL and at Mercyhurst) and the Connecticut Whale signed one of their 2020 NWHL Draft selections, Nicole Guagliardo (25th overall) from Adrian College. All three players will be expected to have an immediate impact on their new teams.
Buffalo’s Brand New Blueliner
As captain at Maine as a senior, Matteau was third in the NCAA in blocked shots and finished her collegiate career as the second all-time leading scorer (62 points/16 goals over 136 games) among defenders in program history.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the Beauts this season and continuing my hockey career as a pro in the NWHL,” said Matteau in the press release announcing her signing.
She won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2015 U18 World Championships and played three straight years for Team Quebec’s U18 team, winning gold in her final year at the Canada Winter Games.
“Alyson is an ideal blend of skill, tenacity, and hockey IQ,” said Beauts GM Nate Oliver. “Ever since she played for Team Canada at the 2015 U18s in Buffalo, our staff has followed her career closely and we know all of the great attributes she will bring to the Beauts. We are absolutely thrilled that Alyson is joining us. Opposing players are not going to enjoy competing against her.”
Matteau is the 10th player signed by the Beauts this off-season. She joins fellow defenders Marie-Jo Pelletier, Lenka Curmova, Lisa Chesson, Whitney Dove, Dominique Kremer, forwards Taylor Accursi, Cassidy MacPherson, Autumn MacDougall, and rejoins her college teammate, goaltender Carly Jackson.
Guagliardo Joins the Pod
The Whale strengthened and deepened their forward group with the addition of Guagliardo, who led the Bulldogs in points (33) as a senior last season and tied for the lead in NCAA DIII with six game-winning goals. She was named to the AHCA All-American Second Team and the NCHA All-Conference Team.
“Nicole not only led our team in scoring, but she led by example. This opportunity to continue her hockey career as a pro with Connecticut is something I know Nicole will cherish,” said Adrian head coach Shawn Skelly. “She will work very hard to succeed against the league’s elite. Everyone at Adrian is very proud of Nicole and wishes her the best of luck on her NWHL career with the Whale.”
Prior to playing at Adrian as a senior, Guagliardo played at Mercyhurst and Lindenwood. Before college, she played for the Chicago Mission and led the team to a National Championship in 2015.
“I’m proud and thrilled to finally see my dream of playing pro hockey in the NWHL become a reality,” said Guagliardo in the press release announcing her signing. “My hope is to do my part for the Whale so we can have our most successful season yet and win the Isobel Cup. I want to continue to see the NWHL grow and gain more fans and awareness of women’s hockey.”
“To the fans of the Whale and of all the NWHL teams: thank you for your support. I believe with the addition of an expansion team in the great city of Toronto, and with all of the talented dedicated players who have started to fill the rosters so far, 2020-21 is going to be a memorable season,” she added. “Fins Up!”
Guagliardo is the 14th player signed by the Whale for the upcoming season. She joins forwards Emma Vlasic, Kaycie Anderson, Amanda Conway, Melissa Samoskevich, and Katelynn Russ, defenders Shannon Doyle, Elena Orlando, Taylor Marchin, Hanna Beattie, Tori Howran, and Maggie LaGue, and goaltenders Brooke Wolejko and Abbie Ives.
Fieseler Finds Hockey Home with Rivs
The Riveters blueline has been bolstered with the addition of Fieseler who played four years (138 games) at Mercyhurst, tallying 38 points (15g-23a) and then played 30 games last season in the SDHL with Goteborg HC where she had a goal and four assists.
“I’m grateful to the Riveters for providing me the opportunity to continue playing the game I love and cherish,” said Fieseler in the press release announcing her signing. “This gives me a platform to inspire young kids that any dream of theirs is possible through hard work and determination. I’m excited for my first season with the Rivs promoting women’s hockey in the NWHL.”
Fieseler, who is from Red Deer, Alberta, won a gold medal with Team Canada prior to her collegiate career at the 2014 U18 World Championships.
“Sam is a responsible defender who can also support the offense as well,” said Riveters head coach Ivo Mocek. “With her positive attitude and winning mentality, she will fit perfectly into our defensive group and our organization.”
Fieseler is the 13th player signed by the Riveters this off-season. She joins goaltenders Tera Hofmann and Sonjia Shelly, defenders Rebecca Morse, Saroya Tinker, Leila Kilduff, and forwards Madison Packer, Kendall Cornine, Cailey Hutchison, Mallory Rushton, Emily Janiga, Kate Leary, and Sammy Kolowrat.
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.