Three NWHL teams announced signings this past week, and two teams held Free Agent Camps over the weekend. While it was good to be back at a rink for the second weekend in a row, we may have left the rink on Sunday with more questions than we had when the weekend started.
The Connecticut Whale and Metropolitan Riveters held single-day Free Agent Camps over the weekend (June 12-13) in Newark, New Jersey at the former (and maybe future) home of the Riveters. On Saturday there were 24 players on the ice for the Whale’s session, two of which have already signed for the upcoming season. The next day ten of those same players were on the ice again trying to earn a spot with the Rivs. Over the two days, five players in attendance also skated for Buffalo a week earlier.
For NWHL fans, there were some familiar names on the ice for both days: goaltenders Tera Hofmann (last played with Riveters), Sonjia Shelly (Riveters), Cassandra Goyette (Whale), defenders Meg Delay (Beauts), Rebecca Morse (Riveters), Taylor Marchin (Whale), and forwards Kaycie Anderson (Whale), Maeve Reilly (Whale), Elena Gualtieri (Whale), Stephanie Mock (Whale), Iveta Klimasova (Beauts), Hayley Williams (Beauts), Alexa Aramburu (Riveters), Brooke Avery (Riveters), Allie Olnowich (Riveters), Haley Frade (Riveters), and Kayla Meneghin (Beauts).
For us, the biggest shock was seeing the names of players like Hofmann, Morse, and Marchin on the roster for Connecticut’s camp. Morse has been a constant with the Riveters for half a decade, Marchin seems like the ideal player to fill the void vacated by captain Shannon Doyle, and Hofmann played a great game (and picked up the win) in her lone start as a pro in Lake Placid.
Marchin told us following the 90-minute skate that she would “love to sign again with the Whale, so I’m doing everything I can,” to make that happen. Again, we’d be shocked if she isn’t with the team to start Season 7. She does all of the little things right like closing gaps, forcing an attacking forward wide enough that their shot attempt is less formidable, and sacrificing her body to block shots.
“I felt good today. It was high-tempo, definitely a lot of skating,” added Marchin, who has three assists over her 41-game (three seasons) NWHL career. “I’ve been skating a few times a week in the morning before work, trying to get ready for this and our camp on June 27. You can’t match game-like situations if you don’t have players around to scrimmage. Nothing beats coming out here for these situations.”
We’ll have more coverage of the weekend’s sessions later this week on THW.
On June 9 the Toronto Six re-signed one of their top two defenders from their inaugural season – Taylor Woods. She registered five points (4g-1a) while playing in all six of Toronto’s games in Lake Placid, and can play either forward or defense – making her a valuable asset to her team.
“We started something really good, it’s turning into something big. You can just see that now we have the opportunity to play at home, there’s a full season (on the horizon), and you start to see things changing shape,” said Woods in the press release announcing her signing. “So of course, why wouldn’t I want to come back to the T6 under that great atmosphere. That’s where I saw this being a no-brainer for me.”
Woods was part of the inaugural group of signings by the Six and the 26-year-old Manitoba native will line up alongside three others in that group – Shiann Darkangelo, Emma Greco, and Elaine Chuli – again in the franchise’s second season. Before signing in the NWHL Woods played in the CWHL and PWHPA.
“I can just picture it now. Coming out of the locker room, seeing all of the T6 jerseys, doors open and we’re ready,” added Woods. “Then they hear our names get called, music coming on, and we just blast out that door with all the fans around. That’s the vision in my mind. That’s the image. Just the energy, the impact that we are going to have on the hockey community and in women’s sports, too. All that I think about when it comes to Season 7 is that door and us exploding out onto the ice.”
Another Buffalo Golden Knight
On June 10 the Buffalo Beauts once again dipped into the Clarkson University pool and announced the signing of defender Emma Keenan. Like Cassidy Vinkle (who the Beauts signed on May 19), Keenan won two NCAA championships during her time with the Golden Knights. The past two seasons she played 66 games in the SDHL with Goteborg HC, putting up 22 points (11g-11a).
“I chose to sign with the Beauts because I feel the program has a great culture with tons of support and a strong fanbase,” Keenan said in the press release announcing the signing. “I’m excited to live in Buffalo and for the opportunity to play in the NWHL. I think the Beauts have a lot of potential for this upcoming season, and I’m excited to be part of a program that has big aspirations.”
She played in 156 games for Clarkson, recording 39 points (4g-35a) and was a +76. Keenan won National Titles as a sophomore and junior and was the Golden Knights best defender during her senior season in which she was a +40.
“Emma is about as steady as they come for blueliners in our game, and she can play forward too if called upon,” said GM Nate Oliver. “She played at a very high level collegiately and won two NCAA championships with the Clarkson Golden Knights. Factor in two solid seasons in the SDHL, and Emma has been playing with, and against, some of the finest players in the world for a while now. To be able to add her to our Beauts roster is a huge win for us.”
Keenan joins Vinkle, Erin Gehen, Cassidy MacPherson, Autumn MacDougall, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Carly Jackson, and Caty Flagg on the Beauts Season 7 roster.
On June 11 the Connecticut Whale announced that they re-signed defender Hanna Beattie; the versatile defender will be entering her fifth season in the NWHL and with the Pod. In 54 career regular-season games (as a forward and a defender) she has recorded seven points (3g-4a), and she also has scored two goals in five playoff games.
“I have had so much fun being part of this organization over the past four years and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish this season. Between the effort, heart, and grit that this team possesses, and the dedication and passion of our staff, I know big things are in store for us,” Beattie said in the press release announcing her signing. “I look forward to getting back on the ice and seeing everyone in Danbury soon!”
Back in 2020 (which feels like three lifetimes ago), Beattie had the game-winning goal in Connecticut’s first playoff win in four years, to cap off her best campaign as a pro – which also included being selected to the All-Star Game in Boston.
Beattie is one of six players signed with the Whale for Season 7. She joins Abbie Ives, Kennedy Marchment, Allie Munroe, Emma Vlasic, and Alyssa Wohlfeiler.
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.