The NWHL’s newest team, the Toronto Six, added a key blueliner this week, as did the Metropolitan Riveters, and the Buffalo Beauts re-signed three depth players.
The Six signed Sarah Steele (Boston University), the Riveters signed Bridgette Prentiss (Franklin Pierce University), and the Beauts re-signed forwards Kristin Lewicki and Emma Ruggerio, as well as goaltender Kelsey Neumann.
Blue (Line) Steel
After three years in Europe, Steele is returning to Canada to play in her home country with the Six. The 25-year-old never missed a game during her four years at BU, appearing in 151 games between 2013-17 and was named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team in 2016 and 2017.
“Sarah is a strong and experienced pro defender who also has the skills to create offense,” said Toronto GM Mandy Cronin in the press release announcing the signing. “We are confident that she’s going to be an impact player for the Toronto Six.”
This past season, Steele played 18 games in the EWHL for KMH Budapest and was fifth on the team with 17 points (4g-13a). Prior to that, she played for the EHV Sabres Vienna and Neuchatel Hockey Academy (SWHL).
“Having spent most of my career in the States and overseas, it means the world to me to be able to play at the professional level on home soil. I’m thrilled to be joining the players, staff, and supporters of the NWHL in their contributions to the growth of women’s hockey,” Steele said.
“I am confident that fans of the Toronto Six will recognize her strong skating ability and fast hands,” said BU head coach Brian Durocher. “I am certain that she will be an asset on the ice, and more importantly, throughout the community.”
With the signing of Steele, the Six now have 17 players signed for their inaugural season. She joins 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, Breanne Wilson-Bennett, Lindsay Eastwood, Emma Woods, and Natalie Marcuzzi, and goaltenders Elaine Chuli and Samantha Ridgewell.
Prentiss Adds Pop to Rivs Blueline
As a senior at FPU, Prentiss was named to the All-NEWHA First Team for the third time in four years. As captain of the team, she led the league in scoring with an eye-popping 45 points (19g-26a) in 31 games; the 45 points set a new school record. She definitely caught the attention of the Riveters staff, which led to her being drafted 21st overall at the 2020 NWHL Draft. The Rivs have now signed three of their four draft picks.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to start my professional hockey career, and I can’t wait to see what my future as a Riveter has in store,” said Prentiss in the press release announcing her signing. “I want to thank all of my college coaches, especially Coach (David) Stockdale, my teammates, and my family, who have helped me reach my goal of playing pro hockey. I would not be where I am today without them.”
The 22-year-old defender finished her collegiate career with 97 points (36g-61a) over 119 games at FPU, which was a D-III school until her senior season. Her 13 power-play goals were tied for first in the nation last season.
With the signing of Prentiss, the Riveters now have signed 18 players this off-season. She joins goaltenders Tera Hofmann and Sonjia Shelly, defenders 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, Sammy Kolowrat, Brooke Avery, Jayne Lewis, and Tatiana Shatalova.
Beauts Bring Back Experienced Trio
Lewicki will be entering her fourth NWHL season/third with the Beauts. Last season she joined Buffalo late in the season and finished with six points (2g-4a) in six games, and added an assist in the playoffs against the Whale. Over her pro career the 25-year-old has 14 points (8g-6a) in 36 regular-season games, and two assists in five playoff games. Lewicki was also a part of the 2018 NWHL All-Star Weekend.
This upcoming season will be Neumann’s fourth with the Beauts/NWHL and this past season she finally picked up her first win. Over her career she has won the NWHL Foundation Award (2016-17), the 2017 Isobel Cup, and was named the VEDA NWHL Player of the week after making 41 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale.
Ruggerio will be entering her second season with the Beauts/NWHL. Last season she saw action in ten games and picked up one assist. That followed a four-year career at Buffalo State College that saw her put up 52 points (28g-24a) over 100 games.
“The Beauts organization is very excited to have all three players back,” said Buffalo associate head coach Rhea Coad in the press release announcing the signings. “The NWHL Foundation Award describes Emma as a human to a T. Her personal drive and commitment to the team are admirable. Wheels (Lewicki) brings a lot of speed up front, and her smarts and aggression set her apart. Neumann’s ability, work ethic, and hockey knowledge are why we wanted her back, and her positivity makes her a fan favorite.”
With the re-signing of Neumann, Lewicki, and Ruggerio the Beauts now have 17 players signed for next season. They join defenders Lenka Čurmová, Alyson Matteau, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Lisa Chesson, Whitney Dove, Dominique Kremer, Meg Delay, forwards Taylor Accursi, Cassidy MacPherson, Autumn MacDougall, Neve Van Pelt, Iveta Klimášová, and goaltenders Carly Jackson and Caty Flagg.
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.