There were two NWHL signings this week. One is a name you know and one is a name that you will know if you don’t already. Most rosters are just about complete now as we inch closer to the start of Season 6.
The Minnesota Whitecaps announced on Sept. 14 that they signed their fifth-round pick (28th overall) from the 2020 Draft, defender Maddie Rowe from the University of Wisconsin. On Sept. 18 the Metropolitan Riveters (finally) revealed that they had signed forward Rebecca Russo, who starred for the team for three seasons before not playing last season.
Both players have championships on their resume – Russo won an Isobel Cup with the Riveters in 2018 and Rowe won an NCAA title with the Badgers in 2019.
In 50 regular-season games over her three seasons with the Rivs, Russo has amassed 41 points (17g-24a), and three points (1g-2a) in five playoff games. She is a two-time All-Star (2017, 2018) and was named one of the Fans’ Three Stars of the Season following her rookie season (2017).
“I am so excited to be returning to the NWHL and play again for such a great organization,” said Russo in the press release announcing her signing. “After spending a year away with my family as my mom battled breast cancer, I knew something was missing. I was missing the ice and missing the Riveters – my second family. I’m looking forward to a great season, ready to work hard and recapture the Isobel Cup. I’m back!”
The 26-year-old is currently second on the franchise’s all-time list for points and goals, and fourth in assists. Over those 50 games, she has only taken one penalty. Her speed and playmaking ability will be an asset to the Rivs in the upcoming season, who looks a helluva lot different than when she was last on the team.
“We are proud to welcome Rebecca Russo back home with the Rivs this season,” said GM Kate Whitman Annis. “Russo will have an immediate impact on the ice. We are looking to her speed to generate options in our offensive zone. Off the ice, she is a leader and works tirelessly to promote the game for girls and women.”
With the signing of Russo, the Riveters now have signed 20 players this off-season. She joins goaltenders Tera Hofmann and Sonjia Shelly, defenders Bridgette Prentiss, Sammy Kolowrat, Rebecca Morse, Saroya Tinker, Leila Kilduff, Samantha Fieseler, Kiira Dosdall-Arena, and forwards Madison Packer, Kendall Cornine, Cailey Hutchison, Mallory Rushton, Emily Janiga, Kate Leary, Brooke Avery, Jayne Lewis, Theresa Knutson, and Tatiana Shatalova.
In her four seasons at Wisconsin, Rowe racked up 30 points (11g-19a) in 152 games while playing stout defense. During their title run of 2019, the Badgers didn’t allow a goal in the entire postseason. This past season she helped lead her team to the WCHA regular-season title before the pandemic ended everything.
“We drafted Maddie because she is a very strong defensive defender who will make our blueline even better,” said Whitecaps GM and co-head coach Jack Brodt in the press release announcing the signing. “We love her strength, size, mobility, and shot.”
It is believed that most of the roster has been signed for Minnesota, just not announced yet, and it is our understanding that in addition to Rowe, Haley Mack, and Corinne Buie, there will be two-three more new players on the team for the upcoming season. One is expected to be a former player for the Buffalo Beauts.
With the signing of Rowe, the Whitecaps now have 11 players signed for next season. She joins forwards Allie Thunstrom, Corinne Buie, Jonna Curtis, Audra Richards, Meaghan Pezon, Meghan Lorence, and Haley Mack, defender Amanda Boulier, and goaltenders Amanda Leveille and Allie Morse.
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.