With less than one month until the 2021 NWHL Draft, the amount of player signing announcements is increasing daily. Over the past six days, we’ve seen six signings revealed from three different teams with the Connecticut Whale announcing three, two from the Buffalo Beauts, and one from the Toronto Six.
This upcoming weekend (June 5-6) the Beauts will be holding a Free Agent Camp in Buffalo, and the following weekend the Whale (June 12) and Metropolitan Riveters (June 13) will hold theirs in Newark, New Jersey. The 2021 NWHL Draft is set to take place on June 29 at 7:00 pm (ET) and will be broadcast on Twitch. The Buffalo Beauts are on the clock with the first overall pick.
On May 28 the Connecticut Whale made their first splash in free agency, re-signing forward Alyssa Wohlfeiler for her third season with the team and fourth in the NWHL. Last season the 32-year-old veteran of five professional leagues (CWHL, SWHL, SDHL, Frauen-Bundesliga) led the Whale with five points (1g-4a) during the four games Connecticut played in Lake Placid.
“I’m excited and humbled to have re-signed with the Whale,” said Wohlfeiler in the press release announcing her signing. “It’s always a great feeling to play for a coaching staff and an organization that wants you and value you, as a player and person. This program is heading in the right direction, and I have a lot of faith in our players and staff, especially with our new private ownership – that we can be successful for years to come.”
In 35 career NWHL games (Connecticut, Boston) Wohlfeiler has recorded 28 points (9g-19a) and has one point/assist in three playoff games. In 2015 she won a championship in the SWHL with Ladies Team Lugano.
“Wolfy was a great addition to our roster and added to our offense last season. We are looking for her to do that again in Season 7,” said Whale Head Coach Colton Orr. “She has speed, skill, and competes every shift. She was a great fit with our group and we’re happy to see her in a Whale uniform again this upcoming season.”
On June 1 the Whale announced that they have re-signed goaltender Abbie Ives for her second pro season. Last season as a rookie in Lake Placid Ives started three of the Whale’s four games and finished with a 2-1-0 record, a 2.01 goals-against average, and a .936 save percentage.
“We are very excited to have Abbie back for this season. We only got to see a small sample size of what she is capable of in Lake Placid,” Orr said in the press release announcing the signing. “Her love of hockey is apparent, as she is always looking to be on the ice and finding ways to improve her game. Abbie is a very athletic goalie with size, speed, and confidence. We are looking forward to seeing what she can do throughout an entire season.”
Marchment Signing Makes a Splash
A day after announcing the re-signing of Ives the Whale made a splash with their first free-agent signing of someone who hasn’t played in the NWHL before – inking forward Kennedy Marchment. The past three seasons she played in the SDHL and tore it up to the tune of 188 points (85g-103a) in 106 games for Linkoping HC (2018-19) and HV71 (2019-21).
“I’m so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to continue my professional career for the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL. I have heard nothing but good things about the Whale organization as a whole, making my decision to come to Connecticut very easy,” said Marchment in the press release announcing the signing.
This past season she posted a ridonkulous 72 points (28g-44a) in just 34 games, with an additional ten points (7g-3a) in five playoff games. Marchment was the second overall pick (Buffalo) in the 2017 NWHL Draft after a dominant four years at St. Lawrence University.
On June 2 the Toronto Six announced that they have re-signed goaltender Elaine Chuli. Last season, her first in the NWHL, Chuli guided the Six to the top of the regular season standings with a 4-1-0 record in the regular season, while compiling a 1.61 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. Before last season she played in the PWHPA and the CWHL.
“It means so much, especially as you get older, you never know when your last season is going to be. So I’m just trying to be in the present and I’m just grateful for one more season at least, and I’m training for it, excited, and ready to go,” said Chuli in the press release announcing her signing.
Chuli was one of the first five players signed by the franchise after their inception and will rejoin two of them – Shiann Darkangelo and Emma Greco – for Season 7.
Back in Buffalo
Also on June 2, the Buffalo Beauts announced that they have re-signed forward Erin Gehen and netminder Caty Flagg. Gehen will be entering her third season as a Beaut/in the NWHL and she has 16 career points (7g-9a) in 30 games. Flagg will be entering her second season with the team/league; she appeared in one game in Lake Placid and played 17:23 of mop-up duty in the third period of a game against Boston.
“We felt it was important to get key role-players within our team re-signed early on,” said Beauts GM Nate Oliver in the press release announcing the signings. “Both Erin and Caty are as valuable to us off the ice as they are on the ice. They are integral to both the culture and environment we have been building with the Beauts, and they will continue to do so.”
“Gehen is a coach’s dream in many ways,” added Oliver. “She’ll do whatever it takes to win and she battles valiantly, game in and game out. She has great acceleration and tends to find openings where she can get a break in on the goalie.”
Both players were officially re-signed before the opening of the UFA period on May 15. The team also announced they will be signing a third goalie. Gehen and Flagg join goaltender Carly Jackson, defender Marie-Jo Pelletier, and forwards Cassidy Vinkle and Cassidy MacPherson as players signed for Buffalo’s Season 7 roster so far.
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.