On June 5 the Minnesota Whitecaps announced their second signing of the off-season, coming to terms with one of the best players in the game today – goaltender Amanda Leveille. She was the backbone of the team’s Isobel Cup championship in March and if any team in the NWHL can become the first back-to-back champions the odds would be pretty high that Leveille will be the goaltender of record when that happens.
“I have the greatest respect and admiration for what the Whitecaps program represents and what it has built for women’s hockey players over the past 15 years,” Leveille said in the press release announcing her signing. “It has produced sold-out crowds, an Isobel Cup, a Clarkson Cup, and the first team in NWHL history to generate a profit.”
Entering her fourth season as a pro, Leveille’s 27 victories are the most in league history, one more than the Boston Pride’s Brittany Ott.
“I will do my part in the NWHL and to continue to grow girls’ hockey at the youth and professional levels through my availability and visibility to the hockey community,” added Leveille, who is also the director of goaltending at Os Hockey.
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During her first three seasons as a pro, her teams have been in the Cup Final each spring with her only loss coming in a 1-0 game against the Metropolitan Riveters in 2018; she was the backup in the 2017 game but won the semifinal to advance the Buffalo Beauts to the final. During Leveille’s tenure at the University of Minnesota, her teams reached the title game in all four of her campaigns and she has three NCAA titles on her mantle.
She’s been an All-Star the past two seasons and was named the Goaltender of the Year in 2018. Last season she guided the expansion Whitecaps to the league’s best record and then backstopped two more wins to clinch her second Isobel Cup in three seasons.
Leveille is only the second player to re-sign with the Whitecaps thus far, with her announcement coming a week after they re-signed forward Allie Thunstrom. But later in the day, the league teased on Twitter that there may be more announcements of their teammates also coming back to defend the title shortly.
“The Whitecaps have extended the playing careers of countless women living in Minnesota and abroad. The Junior Whitecaps have provided countless opportunities for young girl hockey players to train, play, and be coached by female role models,” said the 24-year-old goaltender.
This past season Leveille posted a career-best with a .929 save percentage during the regular season and in the playoffs, it improved to an absurd .966; she also finished with a 1.96 goals-against average in the playoffs and regular season combined.
“My dedication to the Whitecaps and the growth of women’s professional and youth hockey in Minnesota is inscribed with deep gratitude for the Brodt family. While (co-founder/co-head coach) Jack Brodt’s success in Minnesota is evident, what is not so well-known is his unwavering generosity, commitment, and willingness to do whatever is necessary to advance the women’s game.”
Leveille is the 15th player to sign for the upcoming season in less than two weeks since the NWHL and NWHLPA finalized the Standard Player Contract.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 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 fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up-to-date on Buffalo and Boston’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and the Riveters. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.