Four-time Olympian and captain of the Russian National Team Yekaterina Smolentseva has signed a contract with the Connecticut Whale, GM Harry Rosenholtz announced on Saturday.
Smolentseva has already had an impressive career, captaining Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and started playing internationally for the team in 1999 during the Women’s World Championships.
The 33-year-old forward has played for HC Tornado in Russia since the 2008-09 season with a one season layover with HC SKIF Nizhny Novgorod. On Tornado she was a part of three Russian Women’s Championship winning teams and four IIHF European Women’s Champions Cup tournaments.
In a post at the NWHL site she said, “I decided to play for the Connecticut Whale because I’m very interested in playing in American hockey, and I would like to grow as hockey player.”
Smolentseva is the second Russian National Team player to make the leap to the NWHL, joining Lyudmila Belyakova, who signed with the New York Riveters earlier in the summer.
All NWHL teams have until August 17 to fill out their roster. The Whale got much closer to a full roster this week, putting Brittany Dougherty and Shannon Doyle to contract as well.
The NWHL’s inaugural season opener is on October 11, with all four teams in action.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.