Five of the six NWHL teams made signings this week as each team’s roster fr Season 6 starts to become a little clearer. One of the signings was a gold-medal winner, one was a player swapping teams, and three others just completed their collegiate career.
The Connecticut Whale added a major talent on June 10 and they didn’t have to look far to find her. With the announcement of the signing of Melissa Samoskevich, they have added a scoring star and bolstered their forward group. The Newtown, Connecticut native was the Whale’s first-round pick (2nd overall) back in the 2018 NWHL Draft after a fantastic collegiate career at nearby Quinnipiac University.
The Toronto Six announced on June 11 that they signed former Syracuse University defender Lindsay Eastwood. Last season as a senior captain Eastwood led the Orange in assists (20) and tied for the team lead in points (28).
On June 12 the Metropolitan Riveters signed goaltender Sonjia Shelly, who spent her rookie season with the Whale. She appeared in parts of 13 games and will be the fourth former Connecticut goalie (Chelsea Laden, Maria Sorokina, Sam Walther) to suit up for the Rivs.
Also on June 12, the Boston Pride announced that they had signed forward Carlee Turner from the University of New Hampshire. Three of her former teammates were just drafted by the Pride (Meghara McManus and Taylor Wenczkowski) and one was drafted by the Whale (Tori Howran) in the 2020 NWHL Draft and she was one of UNH’s captains last season.
“Samo has tremendous character, drive to always be her best, and commitment to valuing everything required to be an elite athlete,” said Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner of Samoskevich. “She plays with consistency with and without the puck, and a competitiveness to do whatever it takes to win. It will be fun to watch her success and her impact on the Whale this season. Good luck Samo!”
Samoskevich had 109 points (54g-55a) in 144 games at Quinnipiac where she won ECAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, led the team in scoring as a sophomore and junior, and was team captain as a junior and senior. Last season she played eight games (six assists) in the SDHL for Brynas IF.
“Whale fans…get excited!” said Connecticut GM Bray Ketchum Peel in the press release announcing the signing. “The addition of Melissa is a major move for our organization. She brings elite talent and a lot of experience to our lineup, and she’s a relentless player and dedicated leader. This is a big day for the Connecticut Whale and our fans. We’re proud to have Melissa on board.”
Samoskevich has also excelled during her time with the National Team, playing in the 2018 Four Nations Cup and also had two goals at the 2019 IIHF World Championships where she won a gold medal.
“I’m very excited to be part of the Connecticut Whale family,” said the 23-year-old Samoskevich in the press release. “I’ve taken a lot of pride in playing CT hockey since I was very young, and I’m happy to continue to play near home in my professional career. It will be great to see my family in the stands again! I look forward to learning and growing as a player and person through collaboration with Coach Colton Orr, the entire staff, and my new teammates. I can’t wait to get the NWHL season started!”
Samoskevich is the 13th player signed by the Whale for the upcoming season. She joins forwards Emma Vlasic, Kaycie Anderson, Amanda Conway, and Katelynn Russ, defenders Shannon Doyle, Elena Orlando, Taylor Marchin, Hanna Beattie, Tori Howran, and Maggie LaGue, and goaltenders Brooke Wolejko and Abbie Ives.
Rivs Nab Shelly
“Hockey has been my passion since I was little and to have the opportunity to play in the NWHL and possibly inspire others to play is an absolute blessing,” Shelly said in the press release announcing her signing. “My first pro season was a great experience, and I can’t wait to get back on the ice and compete for Isobel alongside my new teammates. I am very excited and appreciative to be part of the Riveters organization.”
She will be in search of her first pro win when the season begins after going 0-12-1 (3.99 GAA, .894 save percentage) across 13 appearances.
Shelly is the 11th player signed by the Riveters this off-season. She joins goaltender Tera Hofmann, defenders Rebecca Morse, Saroya Tinker, Leila Kilduff, and forwards Madison Packer, Kendall Cornine, Cailey Hutchison, Mallory Rushton, Kate Leary, and Sammy Kolowrat.
Eastwood Joins the Six
Following her senior season Eastwood won the 2019-20 College Hockey America Best Defender Award and in May was named the recipient of the Doris R. Soladay Award, given to one female and one male athlete at Syracuse for community involvement and ‘a history of positively influencing their peers personally, academically, and athletically.’
“I am extremely honored and excited to sign with the Toronto Six, as being a professional hockey player has been my dream since I was a little girl,” said Eastwood, an Ottawa native. “As a Canadian, getting to be a part of the first Canadian team in the NWHL is very special, especially since we are one of the only professional women’s sports teams in the country. I can’t wait to hit the ice with my new teammates and compete for the Isobel Cup.”
In 139 games at Syracuse Eastwood had 75 points (23g-52a) and is the school’s all-time leading goal scorer among defenders.
She is the 14th player to sign with the NWHL’s newest team so far. She joins fellow defenders Emma Greco and Kristen Barbara, forwards Shiann Darkangelo, Taylor Woods, Kelly Babstock, Sarah Eve Coutu-Godbout, Brooke Boquist, Mikayla Grant-Mentis, Jenna McParland, Amy Curlew, and Natalie Marcuzzi, and goaltenders Elaine Chuli and Samantha Ridgewell.
Pride Nab UNH’s Turner
“Carlee is an impressive skater with a great presence. She uses her size to command the play, and will undoubtedly add to our offensive production,” said Boston GM Karilyn Pilch in the press release announcing the signing. “We are thrilled to have Carlee joining The Pack, and look forward to all that she will bring to our team.”
What the Boston Pride really need is more scoring depth…said no one ever. But the deepest team in the league got deeper with the addition of the talented Turner who finished a 140-game collegiate career where she missed one game with 73 points (27g-46a).
“I’m beyond excited to continue my hockey career in the Northeast while joining an amazing group of players and staff at the Boston Pride,” said Turner. “I am also very honored to help grow the great game of hockey, especially for all the little girls coming from my home state of Arizona.”
With the signing of Turner, the Pride now have 13 players signed. She joins forwards Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, McKenna Brand, Sammy Davis, Jillian Dempsey, Tereza Vanisova, and Tori Sullivan, defenders Kaleigh Fratkin, Lauren Kelly, Mallory Souliotis, and Jenna Rheault, and goaltender Lovisa Selander.
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.