Over the past seven days, there were three signings in the NWHL involving a recent draft pick, a player who had a stellar rookie season, and an original member of the league. All three will surely have an impact on their teams in the NWHL’s upcoming sixth season.
There was also a change in leadership as Bray Ketchum Peel stepped down as GM of the Connecticut Whale and will be succeeded by Amy Scheer. Ketchum Peel played three seasons with the Metropolitan Riveters and retired from playing after winning the Isobel Cup in Season 3.
“I really enjoyed being the GM of this incredible team and I want to thank the Whale players and staff for their hard work, the fans for their support, and the NWHL for continuing to build women’s pro hockey,” said Ketchum Peel. “I know that Amy will be a great addition to the Whale, and I look forward to looking to watching the team’s success this season.”
On August 13 the Buffalo Beauts re-signed forward Erin Gehen, who finished fourth on the team in points as a rookie. The following day the Whale signed forward Maddie Bishop, their fifth-round pick (27th overall) in the 2020 NWHL Draft. On August 19 the Minnesota Whitecaps signed forward and two-time Isobel Cup champion Corinne Buie who will be returning to play in her home state after four seasons with Buffalo and one with the Boston Pride.
Welcome Home Buie
In addition to the two Isobel Cups, Buie also has played in three All-Star Games and has 49 points (25g-24a) in 90 career regular-season games. She also has three goals in 11 career playoff games, including the game-winning goal in the 2017 Isobel Cup Final.
“To all of my teammates, coaches, and the entire Buffalo Beauts organization: thank you for an incredible four years,” said Buie in the press release announcing the signing. “I’m so grateful for my time in Buffalo and proud of what we accomplished together.”
“To all the fans: thank you for your dedication and loyalty to the team and our sport. You helped make Buffalo a home for me. Now it is time for me to return to my true home, back where my hockey dreams first began. I’m excited for this new opportunity with the Whitecaps and ready for Season 6 of the NWHL.”
Buie has played in the Isobel Cup Final in every season that it was held (this year’s championship game was postponed and then canceled). She was captain of the Beauts for the past two seasons.
“The Whitecaps are proud and happy to have Corinne back home in Minnesota,” said Whitecaps GM and co-head coach Jack Brodt. “She is going to be our go-to-the-net player. Corinne has strength, speed, and a very hard shot. She gives our lineup another goal scorer.”
The Whitecaps now have five players signed for next season and Buie will join forwards Allie Thunstrom and Jonna Curtis, defender Amanda Boulier, and goaltender Amanda Leveille.
Bishop Hopes to Make Splash with Whale
With the signing of Bishop, the Whale have now signed five of their six selections from the 2020 NWHL Draft. She joins Kayla Friesen, Tori Howran, Amanda Conway, and Nicole Guagliardo as fellow draftees on the roster.
A Connecticut native, Bishop put up 91 points (33g-58a) in 126 games at Sacred Heart University. This past season she was a co-captain and finished second on the team with 30 points (11g-19a) in 32 games and led the team in assists.
“Maddie had an outstanding career, helping our team achieve a lot of success over these last four years,” said SHU head coach Thomas O’Malley. “Knowing Maddie, she will take her passion, determination, and high-skill game to the next level and become an important player for the Whale. I look forward to watching the beginning of her professional hockey career.”
After signing Bishop, the Whale now has 22 players signed for the upcoming season. She joins forwards Emma Vlasic, Janine Weber, Kaycie Anderson, Amanda Conway, Melissa Samoskevich, Nicole Guagliardo, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Kayla Friesen, Katelynn Russ, Grace Klienbach, and Sarah Schwenzfeier, defenders Shannon Doyle, Elena Orlando, Jordan Brickner Gragnano, Taylor Marchin, Hanna Beattie, Tori Howran, Laurel Hill, and Maggie LaGue, and goaltenders Brooke Wolejko and Abbie Ives.
While Sheer may be new to the NWHL she is not new to being in a leadership position. Over the past 25 years, she has had positions with the WNBA’s New York Liberty (VP of Marketing and Communications), the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, and MLS’ New York Red Bulls (Chief Commercial Officer) and NYFC.
“I’m so proud to be a part of the NWHL and the Connecticut Whale,” said Scheer in the press release. “What the NWHL has done over the past five years is incredibly inspiring and I am honored to have a role in the ongoing success of the league. It is important that we continue to give women the opportunity to excel in sports at the highest level while showing young girls that anything is possible. I look forward to working closely with the Connecticut community, and with the Whale players, coaches, and staff, we will put on a great show and make our fans proud.”
Erin and Buffalo a Perfect Match
Gehen played in all 24 games as a rookie and put up 16 points (7g-9a), including four points (1g-3a) over the final three games. Once she netted her first goal in mid-November the floodgates opened and her confidence grew.
“Getting to play professional hockey for my hometown team has been an absolute dream come true,” Gehen said in the press release announcing her signing. “I plan on dedicating every ounce of my energy and passion to help bring another Isobel Cup to Buffalo.”
Gehen was a scoring star at Buffalo State College and left the program as its all-time leader in goals, assists, points, shorthanded goals, and games played.
With the signing of Gehen, the Beauts now have 20 players signed for next season. She joins defenders Lenka Čurmová, Alyson Matteau, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Kelly O’Sullivan, Lisa Chesson, Whitney Dove, Dominique Kremer, Meg Delay, forwards Taylor Accursi, Cassidy MacPherson, Autumn MacDougall, Neve Van Pelt, Iveta Klimášová, Kristin Lewicki, Emma Ruggerio, Kayla Meneghin, and goaltenders Carly Jackson, Kelsey Neumann, and Caty Flagg.
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.