Recently both the Connecticut Whale and the Metropolitan Riveters upgraded their rosters for Season 6 with new, fresh faces who will be hoping to make their NWHL debuts in November. Both franchises needed to add some more talent to catch the front-running Boston Pride and both have to believe they are closer to that goal after their most recent additions.
The Whale upgraded their goaltender depth chart on May 21 with the signing of Abbie Ives from nearby Quinnipiac University. Later that day the Riveters signed defender Sammy Kolowrat who was a captain her senior year at the University of Vermont and a member of the Czech Republic National Team.
Making A Splash
Since their inception five seasons ago the Whale have used Quinnipiac as sort of a player pipeline and adding Ives likely strengthens their team going forward. She will be the fourth goalie from the school to play for Connecticut, joining Chelsea Laden, Sydney Rossman, and Laura Brennan.
Ives and Brooke Wolejko – who had a great rookie season – will be a formidable duo in goal for the Whale. Last season the 21-year-old was an alternate captain for the Bobcats and had 17 wins, a 1.91 GAA, a .927 save percentage, and led the school to their first win over a top-ten opponent since 2017-18 (a 4-2 win over No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth).
“We are thrilled to welcome Abbie to The Pod,” said Whale assistant coach and former goaltender Laura Brennan. “She had an outstanding career at Quinnipiac, and we look forward to seeing her grow as a pro. Abbie and Brooke will continue the tradition of exceptional Whale goaltending next season!”
Over the past three seasons, the New York-native started 96 games and her .926 save percentage and 14 shutouts rank third in school history. Ives was also named the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2019-20. She will be the third right-handed goaltender to play in the NWHL; the previous two both played for Connecticut – Nicole Stock, Maria Sorokina.
“I’ve spent pretty much my entire life playing hockey in this area, and I am thrilled to be able to play at the professional level now,” Ives said in the press release announcing her signing. “I’m excited to sign with the Whale and can’t wait to get started!”
Ives is the fourth rookie signed by the Whale this offseason and joins Wolejko, defenders Shannon Doyle, Elena Orlando, Hanna Beattie, Taylor Marchin, Tori Howran, and Maggie LaGue, and forwards Emma Vlasic, Kaycie Anderson, and Katelynn Russ as players signed for the upcoming season.
Riveting Addition to the Blueline
Perhaps it was their head coach’s connection to her home country, or maybe not, but either way they have added an intriguing player to their blueline in Kolowrat. She will be the first player from the Czech Republic to suit up for the Riveters.
Kolowrat played 141 games during her collegiate career with the Catamounts (2016-19) and was an alternate captain during her junior season before serving as captain as a senior.
“Sammy is a strong defender who brings a lot of international experience and knows what it takes to compete against the best players,” said Rivs head coach Ivo Mocek. “She is a significant addition to the Riveters and there’s no doubt in my mind that she will elevate our defensive play.”
The 23-year-old defender has been representing her home country in tournaments dating back to when she was 16, with her most recent appearance coming at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.
“I hope to be an inspiration for younger girls to pursue professional hockey,” said Kolowrat in the press release announcing her signing. “I’d like to thank the Metropolitan Riveters for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get out there for my first pro season. I’m so grateful and excited to be a part of the NWHL.”
Kolowrat is the ninth player signed to play for the Rivs next season, joining fellow newcomers goaltender Tera Hofmann and defender Saroya Tinker as well as returning vets Madison Packer, Rebecca Morse, Kendall Cornine, Leila Kilduff, Cailey Hutchison, and Mallory Rushton.
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.