Over the past few days, three teams signed rookies for the upcoming NWHL season. Two of those players were drafted just over a week ago during the 2020 Draft and the expectation is that this year’s class will have the most players signed entering the season. Already four players have been signed from the 2020 Draft Class, compared to five total players that were signed from the previous Draft Class. That number will be surpassed shortly.
In the span of two days the Metropolitan Riveters signed the fourth overall pick, the Connecticut Whale signed the seventh overall pick, and the expansion team in Toronto came to terms with Quinnipiac University’s leading goal-scorer from last season. The two Founding Four teams both added new defenders, which should help in defending against the higher-scoring teams in the league.
Wildcat to Whale
There will be a new face on the Whale blueline this fall and based on the resume of her collegiate career she will fit right in with the group. On May 6 the Whale inked University of New Hampshire captain Tori Howran to her first pro contract after selecting her seventh overall in the 2020 NWHL Draft.
“Tori is a fierce competitor. She was a leader on our team who we relied upon every situation of the game,” said UNH head coach Hilary Witt. “I’m so happy for and proud of Tori.”
During her senior season, she put up 22 points (2g-20a) in 37 games for the Wildcats while playing on the top pairing, and Howran also blocked 57 shots. During her four-year career at UNH (140 games), she blocked 183 shots and finished with 55 points (7g-48a).
“I am truly thankful and honoured to have been drafted by Connecticut,” said Howran in the press release announcing her signing. “Being able to continue my hockey career at a professional level in the NWHL is unbelievable. I can’t wait to start my rookie season and chase after the Isobel Cup alongside my new teammates.”
Howran is the sixth player signed by the Whale for the upcoming season, joining veterans Shannon Doyle and Elena Orlando on the blueline, netminder Brooke Wolejko, and forwards Emma Vlasic and Kaycie Anderson. With her shot-blocking prowess, she could be a great addition to the group that finished with 264 blocked shots over Connecticut’s 24 games.
Tinker is a Riveter
On May 7 the Riveters announced that they had come to terms with the first of their four draft picks (fourth overall), Saroya Tinker from Yale University. The defender from Oshawa, Ontario played in 122 games during her four years with the Bulldogs, tallying 32 points (5g-27a) and will add size and strength to the team’s blueline.
“Saroya is a smart, smooth-skating defender who has a great first pass and can also be a shut-down player in the D-zone. Her style of play will allow her to fit in well at the next level,” said Yale head coach Mark Bolding.
“Signing with the Riveters means that I not only get to pursue my dream of playing professionally but also get to play alongside strong, amazing women who want to inspire a younger generation and grow the game as well,” Tinker said in the press release announcing her signing.
“As my career at Yale came to an end, I realized how much I loved the sport and what a blessing it was each day I got to step on the ice. I am incredibly blessed to have this opportunity and hope to help the Riveters have a strong defense in the 2020-21 season,” she added.
Tinker is the seventh player that has signed with the Rivs this off-season, but the first new player. She joins fellow defenders Rebecca Morse and Leila Kilduff, as well as forwards Madison Packer, Kendall Cornine, Cailey Hutchison, and Mallory Rushton.
Coutu Godbout Calls Her Shot
In her bio on the Quinnipiac team website, Sarah-Eve Coutu Godbot stated, ‘Plans to play in the NWHL and then come back home to buy the family’s business after graduating.’ Well, mission accomplished on the first part. On May 7 she signed her first pro contract with the NWHL’s newest team in Toronto.
“I am beyond grateful to be part of the first NWHL team in Canada,” Coutu Godbout said in the press release announcing her signing. “I can’t wait to start this new chapter and play my first-year pro in Toronto. This inaugural season will be memorable, and I’m thrilled to join the team and engage with fans.”
During her time with Quinnipiac, the Quebec-native had 62 points (34g-28a) over 122 games, highlighted by her just-completed senior season where she led the team with 16 goals and finished second on the team in points with 26 – which was a career-high.
Coutu Godbout is the fourth former Bobcat player to sign with Toronto, joining Emma Greco, Kelly Babstock, and Shiann Darkangelo, and the seventh player signed by the NWHL’s newest team (Taylor Woods, Elaine Chuli, Kristen Barbara) ahead of their inaugural season.
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.