Over the past seven days since our last update, we’ve had a plethora of new NWHL signings as well as the announcement of a new coach, and perhaps most excitingly – we had our first on-ice activity since the Isobel Cup was handed out at the end of March.
The Buffalo Beauts had not one, but two days of Free Agent Camp this past weekend (June 5-6) to truly kick off the off-season and us getting somewhat back to the way things were before the pandemic. In all there were 28 players on the ice for the sessions run by Beauts’ assistant coaches Mark Zorbo and Julia TiDondo with head coach Rhea Coad and GM Nate Oliver in the stands. We’ll have a recap of their first day on the ice later this week on THW.
Among the 28 players were some familiar names to NWHL fans: goalies Cassandra Goyette, Kelsey Neumann, and Tiffany Hsu, defenders Meg Delay and Samantha Fieseler, and forwards Hayley Williams, Maddie Norton, Nicole Guagliardo, and Iveta Klimášová. Also on the ice were forwards Erin Gehen and Cassidy MacPherson who have already signed their contracts for the upcoming season with Buffalo.
Whale Making More Waves
On June 3 the Connecticut Whale announced that they had signed defender Allie Munroe for the upcoming season. After playing collegiately at Syracuse, Munroe has played the last two seasons in the SWHL. The next day the team announced that they had re-signed forward Emma Vlasic, who will be returning for her third season with the Pod.
“I’m so honored and excited to be a part of the Connecticut Whale for Season 7 in the NWHL! Coach (Colton) Orr and the entire Whale staff have made it an easy decision; I can’t wait to meet all of my new teammates and have the opportunity to compete for the Isobel Cup,” said Munroe in the press release announcing her signing.
“Allie is a player who prides herself on being hard to play against, and she provides a work ethic and a competitive level that is hard to match,” said Orr. “She fits the style of play we are looking for, and we can’t wait to see her in a Connecticut Whale uniform this season.”
Vlasic had four points (1g-3a) in four games at Lake Placid last season and will enter the upcoming campaign with a total of 13 points (10g-3a) in 28 career NWHL regular-season games. She has been their face-off ace from the moment she joined the Whale and participated in the NWHL All-Star Weekend as a rookie in Feb. 2020. Vlasic has three assists in three career playoff games.
“We are looking forward to seeing what Emma can do in Season 7. She continues to work on her game in the off-season and has emerged into a complete player that can play in all three zones,” Orr said. “She is a player that leads by example and is a big part of the Whale leadership. It’s great to have her back.”
Vlasic and Munroe join goalie Abbie Ives and forwards Kennedy Marchment and Alyssa Wohlfeiler on Connecticut’s roster for next season.
Beauts Retain Top Scorer
On June 7 the Beauts announced that they have re-signed Autumn MacDougall for the upcoming season. After being drafted 14th overall at the 2020 NWHL Draft, MacDougall paced Buffalo with three goals in six games while in Lake Placid. The team revealed that the contract was signed during the restricted free agency period (before May 15).
“It means a great deal to me that I have the opportunity to return to the Beauts for Season 7. I know that the Beauts have a lot more to give this season, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we are going to do,” said MacDougall in the press release announcing her signing.
“Auttie is young and hungry. Her thirst for continued growth in the game is what makes her stand out from most others,” said Coad. “We are excited to have a talented, dedicated player back for another season with the Beauts.”
MacDougall joins forwards Gehen, MacPherson, Cassidy Vinkle, defender Marie-Jo Pelletier, and goaltenders Carly Jackson and Caty Flagg on Buffalo’s roster for Season 7.
“One of my goals for this upcoming season is to improve my confidence with the puck and to be more of a threat all over the ice,” added MacDougall. “We have a very special team this coming season, and I’m excited to compete for the Isobel Cup.”
Toronto’s New Bench Boss
On June 7 the Toronto Six announced that Mark Joslin was named the team’s new head coach, succeeding Digit Murphy, who will continue her role as Team President. Most recently, Joslin was GM and head coach for the Toronto Patriots of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (2016-20).
“I just love where women’s hockey is right now and where it’s going. It’s always been a dream of mine to coach pro hockey,” Joslin said in the press release announcing his hiring. “Signing on with the Toronto Six after talking to Digit and getting this opportunity with the only NWHL franchise in Canada is special. I think timing-wise and where I am in my career, it’s a great opportunity for me to come in and educate to hopefully make a difference for this organization and make a good run.”
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.