The signings continued to roll in this week for five of the six NWHL teams and most recently it was the New England based teams taking the spotlight.
On July 16 the Boston Pride announced that they had signed defender Paige Capistran from Northeastern University, their sixth and final selection (30th overall) in the 2020 NWHL Draft. A day later the Connecticut Whale announced that they had re-signed forwards Grace Klienbach and Sarah Schwenzfeier, and defender Laurel Hill.
Capistran Joins Pride
After capping off her 145-game collegiate career by captaining Northeastern to their winningest season in program history, Capistran won the Hockey East Sportsmanship Award. Judging from her performance in college she will fit right in on a blueline filled with experience and excellence. Her impact was focused on the defensive side of the ice but still scored 30 points (4g-26a).
“I am so proud of Cap and I congratulate her on joining the Boston Pride,” said Northeastern assistant coach Lindsay Berman, former NWHL player, and coach. “With her determination to get better every day and her love of hockey, I know she will make her mark with the Pride as she did at Northeastern. The Pride gained not only a great defender but also a phenomenal person and natural leader.”
With the signing of Capistran, the Pride now has a total of 18 players signed for next season. She joins forwards Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, McKenna Brand, Sammy Davis, Jillian Dempsey, Tereza Vanisova, Carlee Turner, Mary Parker, Meghara McManus, Taylor Wenczkowski, and Tori Sullivan, defenders Kaleigh Fratkin, Lauren Kelly, Mallory Souliotis, and Jenna Rheault, and goaltenders Lovisa Selander and Victoria Hanson.
All three of the Whale players re-signed played a key role in the franchise winning its first playoff game since 2016 and all three earned another go-round with the greatly-improved team.
Klienbach will be entering her third season with the team/league. She has 10 points (2g-8a) in 37 regular-season games and one goal in two playoff games. After not playing during 2018-19 she played in every game for the Whale this past season and earned a spot in the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game.
Schwenzfeier will also be entering her third season with the team/league. This past season she won 218 of the 477 face-offs she took (.457%) and recorded her first goal/assist/point; in 27 career games now has nine points (6g-3a).
Hill will be entering her second season with the team/league after signing with the Whale in January. She played in seven regular-season games and two playoff games, picking up a lone assist in her second game with the team. Hill previously played in the CWHL with the Toronto Furies for two seasons.
“We expect this trio to be big contributors on the Whale this season,” Connecticut GM Bray Ketchum Peel said in the press release announcing the signings. “Grace and Sarah have experience on the big stage in the NWHL and both are coming off their best seasons with us. Laurel gave us a glimpse of her potential after she joined us midseason. Her size, consistency, and work ethic make her a valuable asset on defense. Welcome back to The Pod – Grace, Sarah, and Laurel!”
The Whale now has 19 players signed for the upcoming season. Klienbacj, Schwenzfeier, and Hill join forwards Emma Vlasic, Kaycie Anderson, Amanda Conway, Melissa Samoskevich, Nicole Guagliardo, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Kayla Friesen, and Katelynn Russ, defenders Shannon Doyle, Elena Orlando, Taylor Marchin, Hanna Beattie, Tori Howran, and Maggie LaGue, and goaltenders Brooke Wolejko and Abbie Ives.
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.