Beginning June 1, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2017-18 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fourth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Metropolitan Riveters defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with the addition of a fifth team – the Minnesota Whitecaps – this will be the most competitive season yet.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
In just one day the Minnesota Whitecaps roster jumped from 11 players under contract to a present total of 16. Their trio of goaltenders is now situated and their armament at forward is being assembled quite nicely. Among the five Minnesota signings which the NWHL announced on Aug. 22, 2018 are two defenders (technically one is listed as a defender-forward) who will help bolster the Whitecaps back end. Emma Stauber and defender-forward Lauren Barnes will play their first seasons in the NWHL in their home state. Both players had solid collegiate careers, and played especially well during separate stints with European teams.
— Minnesota Whitecaps (@WhitecapsHockey) August 22, 2018
Barnes was particularly enthused about the opportunity to play for the Whitecaps. She stated the following in the league press release about the signing:
“I am honored to be playing post-college professional hockey right here in my home state, which many players don’t get the opportunity to do,” she said. “I’m also thrilled to be part of a group of girls who are dedicated to helping grow the game and inspire the youth to dream big. We have a goal of and challenging each other to get better in order to win the Isobel Cup. Along with playing games, I’m excited to get out and interact with our amazing fans! Roll ‘Caps!”
Barnes hails from Eagan, Minnesota while Stauber is from Duluth. THW takes a look at both players and how each of their signings will positively impact Minnesota. Barnes and Stauber will each bring unique skill sets to the team that will ultimately help give the Whitecaps a legitimate shot at the Isobel Cup.
The 26-year-old Barnes has some size to her at 5-foot-8 and close to the 140-pound mark. The fact that she has a right-handed shot poses some very nice options when positioning, and this is even further accentuated by the fact that she can play both forward and defense. Putting Barnes at the point for the power play would make sense. She can generate offense readily, and naturally will increase the potency of a power play unit. Even if Barnes is not placed out on Minnesota’s first power play unit (don’t forget that they have Lee Stecklein and Amanda Boulier on defense too), then she should at least help with quarterbacking the secondary unit.
She played her freshman year of college hockey with Mercyhurst University for the 2010-11 season. In 31 games on the back end for the Lakers Barnes picked up eight assists and finished her first year with a plus-seven. She would play the remaining three seasons of her NCAA career with Minnesota State University. Barnes’ finest season statistically came during her senior year (2013-14) when she set career highs in games played (37), goals (five), assists (17) and points (22). At the close of her college career she had compiled 12 goals and 50 assists for 62 points in 139 games. Not hesitating to show a physical side, Barnes also accumulated 119 penalty minutes in her four years.
Upon completing college Barnes played the 2014-15 season in Germany with ERC Ingolstadt in the Frauen-Bundesliga – the top league for women’s hockey in Germany. In that season she absolutely lit the league on fire. In 24 regular season games Barnes led the league in goals with 33 and points with 65. After coming back Stateside she commenced playing for the Whitecaps prior to their inclusion into the NWHL.
The 25-year-old Stauber is naturally a defender. Playing the 2015-16 season with HV71 in the SDHL (Svenska damhockeyligan, the top women’s league in Sweden) she left Swedish fans wishing that they had her for more than the 19 regular season games she played. Stauber is quite the puck mover on defense. She generates a lot of strength from her 5-foot-7, 150-pound frame and does a great job of controlling the puck so that she can dish out passes. In that lone season with HV71 Stauber scored six goals and seven assists for 13 points.
Prior to playing in Sweden, she played her four years of college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Stauber played a total of 142 games for the Bulldogs during her NCAA career. In the process she scored three goals and 20 assists for 23 points and finishing as a plus-18. More importantly, Stauber was a tremendous leader for Minnesota-Duluth throughout her career. She and former NWHLer Zoe Hickel were alternate captains to Jamie Kenyon’s captaincy during the 2013-14 season. Then during their senior year – 2014-15 – Stauber and Hickel co-captained the squad outright.
Whitecaps fans will appreciate Stauber’s responsible play on the back end. She can be stalwart and control the play very well. Exuding a plethora of important hockey intangibles, Stauber will be the player who can keep things calm in tricky situations, especially when the puck is in Minnesota’s zone. Goalies Leveille, Rossman and Friend will enjoy having her playing in front of their net.
As of Aug. 22, here is how the Whitecaps roster looks thus far:
Goalie: Amanda Leveille, Sydney Rossman, Julie Friend.
Defense: Lee Stecklein, Amanda Boulier, Emma Stauber.
Forward: Hannah Brandt, Kate Schipper, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Allie Thunstrom, Meaghan Pezon (defender/forward), Lauren Barnes (defender/forward), Brooke White-Lancette, Jonna Curtis, Amy Menke, Sadie Lundquist.
General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.