NWHL rosters are filling up rapidly and two of the league’s biggest rivals made the two latest signings. On May 29 the Metropolitan Riveters announced that they had re-signed one of their most important players from last season, Kate Leary. She started her first NWHL season with points in 12-consecutive games and finished it by taking the Newcomer of the Year Award. On June 9 the Buffalo Beauts announced that they had signed one of the best defenders in college hockey last season in Providence College’s Whitney Dove. She was named a Hockey East Second Team All-Star in 2020 and as a freshman, she was a unanimous selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.
Kate the Great
Leary set the single-season team record for goals in a season (16) and finished the season with 27 points in 22 games. The 26-year-old was named NWHL Player of the Month for December and she also played in the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game.
“We are so incredibly happy to welcome Kate back to the Rivs for a second season,” said Riveters GM Kate Whitman Annis in the press release announcing the signing. “She is a high-skilled forward, and a force both on the ice and in the locker room.”
Leary joined the Riveters after stops in Switzerland (Lugano) where she led the SWHL in goals (33 in 20 games) and won a championship and Boston where she led the CWHL’s Boston Blades in scoring during her two seasons.
“The NWHL and the Riveters have provided me with a great opportunity to continue my hockey career at the professional level,” said Leary, who commutes from Boston to games and practices. “I began playing hockey because I love the game and that is what has continued to carry me through 23 years. While there are still steps to be taken to continue to build the league, the NWHL provides more than 125 female hockey players the opportunity to showcase what our sport is all about. The speed, creativity, and talent that is a landmark of women’s hockey was on display every weekend last season.”
Often on the ice, she was paired with Madison Packer on the opposite wing and the two combined for a total of 61 points. Her re-signing means that the four highest point-producing forwards on the Riveters will be returning (Packer, Leary, Kendall Cornine, Mallory Rushton), as well as their highest-scoring defender (Rebecca Morse). That is a far cry from the previous off-season when only four players were returning Rivs.
“I am so appreciative of the Riveters family and the experience I had with the team last season,” said Leary in the press release. “All of the staff was extremely supportive and helpful. Our team was a group from all over the world, yet we came together and not only competed but enjoyed doing so together. I’m thrilled to be back with the Rivs for another season!”
“We have a good core group back and with some new players in the mix, we have a sturdy base to build off of and improve from last year. I can’t wait to get back to work with the team and compete for Isobel.”
Leary is the tenth player signed by the Riveters for the upcoming season and will be rejoining forwards Packer, Cornine, Rushton, and Cailey Hutchison, and defenders Morse and Leila Kilduff, plus rookies Saroya Tinker (D), Sammy Kolowrat (F), and Tera Hofmann (goaltender).
Dove Lands in Buffalo
The Beauts probably were chomping at the bit to announce the signing of Dove, who will add a new dimension to their blueline this upcoming season after starring for the Friars. As a senior, she tied for the team lead in points with 28 (9g-19a) and had six multi-point games. The 22-year-old finished her career with the Friars with 79 points (26g-53a) over 145 games.
“Whitney substantially bolsters our team both offensively and defensively. She is an outstanding defender with a strong shot from the blueline,” said Buffalo GM Nathaniel Oliver in the press release announcing the signing. “We know she’s going to be a great player for the Beauts, and the fans will love watching her.”
Dove will be crucial to the Beauts blueline group in stemming the waves of offense that teams like Boston and Minnesota will be throwing their opponent’s ways. She is the fifth defender signed for Buffalo’s upcoming season, and the third among that group who wasn’t a part of Season 5’s team.
“I am very excited to join the Buffalo Beauts and have the opportunity to play in the NWHL,” Dove said in the press release. “I have heard great things about the organization, and I am looking forward to continuing my hockey career as a professional in Buffalo.”
Dove is the eighth Beauts player signed for next season, joining defenders Lisa Chesson, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Dominique Kremer, and Lenka Čurmová, goaltender Carly Jackson, and forwards Taylor Accursi and Cassidy MacPherson.
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.