The Sound of Victory: New York Riveters Sign Celeste Brown

Hear that? It’s the sound of victory.

No, the inaugural NWHL season doesn’t start for another four-plus months. But I’m still notching yesterday’s events in the winning column for the New York Riveters—the signing of their second player, Celeste Brown.

Brown has racked up impressive play and perhaps even more impressive leadership during her career thus far. She was captain of the Rochester Institute of Technology team for two years, during a period that the NWHL’s official statement describes as “perhaps the most transformative class in RIT program history,” including a NCAA Division I playoff run after participating in their transition from D III.

She is not a superstar-Olympian-type, and is more notable for her consistency– but as far as I’m concerned, that makes her more compelling. At RIT, she played every game of multiple seasons, and if you’ve been following the NWHL closely, you may recall that Brown was highlighted on their social media during player camps. Why? Because she went to all of them. Including the Pride and the Riveters’ camps, which were held on the same days, necessitating a back-and-forth commute from Boston to Long Island three times in two days—not to mention the sheer exhaustion of bringing her A-game at all four sessions.

In a small league, without the guarantees, comfort, and infrastructure that surrounds more established leagues—pro or collegiate—there will almost certainly be complications, confusion, and adversity. Celeste Brown has made it clear that she is a player and a person who does not balk in the face of those issues. She was dead-set on playing pro hockey, and she has done it. I have to think that the Riveters’ front office understands this, and it was part of their rationale for signing her. I’m certain that she’ll be a strong presence of leadership and positive attitude for the team come October, and it’s those attributes, along with her on-ice accomplishments, that make me so excited to have Celeste Brown as a New York Riveter.

CWHL vs NWHL: The Soundtrack

It’s time to face facts, women’s hockey fans.

FACT: no sport in the history of North America, nay, THE WORLD, has ever survived with more than one major league.
FACT: women’s sports leagues are doomed to fail, because feelings.
FACT: Brian Burke picked members of the men’s USA hockey team based on a dream he had. That doesn’t really have anything to do with this piece, but seriously, what the hell, Brian Burke? I think about this every day. Why did he do that? Do you think he has dreams now where Bobby Ryan gently lisps at him, chastising him for believing in the truth of dreams? Do you think he looks into the mirror and wonders what life would be like if he hadn’t LITERALLY followed his dreams? Do you think he called a priest on suspicion that a weird hockey-obsessed CANADIAN succubus snuck into his room at night and seduced him into making such bad choices? I WANT ANSWERS
FACT: the NWHL should have asked the CWHL to expand. Or maybe they shouldn’t have? This is the Quantum Fact. Both are both true and false.
FACT: the CWHL and the NWHL have gone past the point of no return. They are enemies now. Brenda Andress is probably building a death laser as we speak. Eventually there will be a war, and Hilary Knight, flanked by the Lamoureux twins*, will storm the CWHL headquarters, screaming and waving broken hockey sticks.
FACT: before the war comes sadness. Betrayal. Friend against friend. The painful certainty of knowing that your heart is broken and you’ve been left alone.
FACT: after the sadness comes the knowledge that you’ll be okay, because you’ve got friends

in

low

places
(WHERE THE WHISKEY DROWNS AND THE BEER CHASES YOUR BLUES AWAY, AND YOU’LL BE OKAY)

And so I present: the soundtrack of a broken-hearted, broken-leagued summer. You can listen along here: CWHL vs NWHL Soundtrack

(Note: this tracklisting is not totally accurate because I’m bad at saving things to cloud services, so you may get a few fun surprises. How exciting!)

PART ONE: BETRAYAL

1) Mean – Taylor Swift
2) I Hope He Breaks Your Heart – American Aquarium
3) Boots Were Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra
4) Short Life Of Trouble – Carolina Chocolate Drops
5) How Was California – Reckless Kelly

PART TWO: DRUNK, SAD, MAYBE IN DENIAL MAYBE NOT, DEFINITELY IN POSESSION OF MORE BROKEN GLASS THAN YOU WERE 2 DAYS AGO

1) Whiskey – Billy + Joe
2) Tennessee – American Aquarium
3) Trailer for Rent – Pistol Annies
4) Drinkin – Holly Williams
5) Worst Day Of My Life – Carolyn Wonderland
6) Mama’s Broken Hear – Miranda Lambert

PART THREE: HUNGOVER ACCEPTANCE

1) Bring On The Rain – Jo Dee Messina & Tim McGraw
2) Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
3) 7 and 7 – Turnpike Troubadours
4) You Can’t Be Told – Valerie June

PART FOUR: YOUR NEW GIRLFRIEND IS WAY HOTTER THAN YOUR EX AND SHE MAKES MORE MONEY TOO

1) New Strings – Miranda Lambert
2) Best Thing I Never Had – Beyonce (A GENRE DEPARTURE)
3) Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
4) Steve Earle – Lydia Loveless
5) That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain
6) Why Should I Care For The Men Of Thames – Martha Redbone

 

  • NOTE: I’m basing this conjecture entirely on my perception that the twins would be down for chaos, not on any actual knowledge about when/if they’ll sign with either league. THANX

The Boston Pride: Draft Recap, Signing Amanda Pelkey

At a Q&A on Periscope after the first NWHL draft on June 20th, General Manager Hayley Moore of the Boston Pride said that the team “wanted to deepen our roster on all levels” and “spread our picks across the board, rather than focusing on a single position.” The Boston Pride had third pick at the 2015 NWHL Draft, but that was third pick of an amazing crop of stellar athletes. In the five rounds of the draft, they chose three forwards, a goaltender, and one defender, four of whom are already based in Boston as rising seniors on NCAA teams. This year’s draft picks will join the Pride for the 2016-2017 season after they finish their undergraduate degrees.

First pick (3rd overall): Kendall Coyne (@KendallCoyne), 23, is a forward and #77 on the Northeastern Huskies whose hometown is Palos Heights, IL. As a member of Team USA, Coyne is an Olympic silver medalist, three times an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Champion, and twice a IIHF Under 18 (U18) World Champion. In her NCAA career, she’s scored 165 points over three seasons; this year alone, she was a Patty Kazmaier Top-Ten Finalist and a Women’s Hockey East Association (WHEA) First Team All-Star. With that kind of play at the international and college levels, it’s easy to see what makes her such a valuable prospect to the NWHL and first choice for the Pride.

Second pick (7th overall): Emerance Maschmeyer (@emerance_m), 20, is a goaltender and #38 on the Harvard Crimson who hails from Bruderheim, AB. Before she even started at Harvard, she led Team Canada to gold with a shutout in the final game in the 2012 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championships. This spring, she served as alternate to veteran Genevieve Lacasse on the silver-winning team at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships. With a .941 save percentage over her NCAA career, Maschmeyer is a powerful presence in the net, and she’s gotten the recognition to show for it as 2013 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, 2014 ECAC Goaltender of the Year, and numerous other awards and nominations. She’ll be a huge asset for the Pride next year.

Third pick (11th overall): Lexi Bender (@bendy0), 21, is a defender and #21 on the Boston College Eagles from Snohomish, WA. Bender represented Team USA on the 2014 U.S. Women’s Under-22 Select Team in a three-game exhibition series against Canada last summer and has had an impressive career on high school and college teams, playing for Shattuck-Saint Mary’s before she joined the Eagles, where she racked up six goals and 23 assists this year. GM Moore singled out Bender for praise after the draft, saying, “There were very many talented defensemen, but Bender was a staple on the Boston College blue line last season and she was an integral part of their success. She’s got great size and strength, which we’re welcoming in Boston.” I couldn’t agree more.

Fourth pick (15th overall): Miye D’Oench (@me_yay_doench), 21, is a forward and #19 on the Harvard Crimson from New York, NY. D’Oench won silver for Team USA alongside future Pride teammates Coyne on the 2012 IIHF U18 team and the U22 team last summer alongside Bender. At Harvard, D’Oench has lead the Crimson offensively: for 2013-2014, she held first place for both goals (18) and points (39), and this season, with 19 goals, she was the highest goal scorer again, though second on the team with 33 points. Prior to Harvard, she captained her club team the New Jersey Rockets U19 for two seasons. Leadership experience and goal production will be great strengths for D’Oench on the Pride.

Fifth pick (19th overall): Shannon MacAulay (@shanmac04), 21, is a forward and #4 on the Clarkson Golden Knights who calls Mt. Herbert, PEI home. Representing Team Canada, she’s played alongside Maschmeyer and against the rest of her future teammates drafted today, winning gold on Canada’s 2012 IIHF U18 team and playing in an exhibition series with the 2014 U22 team against the United States. At Clarkson, she led the team in power play goals this year and was second on the team with 33 points; she was also a 2015 ECAC Hockey Third-Team All-League All-Star and nominated for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. MacAulay will be an excellent addition to the Pride next year.

As I said in my post in about the Boston Blades and the future of US Women’s Hockey last month, the NCAA is teeming with women with backgrounds as impressive as the NWHL’s 2015 draft picks. The players who will join the Pride next year are only the very tip of the iceberg, and NWHL GM Dani Rylan concurs, saying in the post-draft Q&A that, “The Draft Class was so deep that it was really that every selection was a first-round pick. We could have gone ten rounds.” Indeed.

While Coyne, Macschmeyer, Bender, D’Oench, and MacAulay won’t join the Pride until they conclude their undergraduate and NCAA careers in 2016, the Pride are beginning to sign free agents for the NWHL’s inaugural season as well. The first free agent to sign with the Boston Pride is Amanda Pelkey (@pelkey21), 22, a forward and a recent graduate of the University of Vermont, where she was #21 on the Vermont Catamounts. Read about Pelkey and her signing on the NWHL website.

Draft Recap: Buffalo Beauts

Wisconsin’s Burke headlines well-rounded inaugural draft class for Beauts

Buffalo’s been a little down on its hockey luck lately especially when it comes to drafting potential stars, but the Beauts made the most out of picking last in the NWHL’s first-ever draft on Saturday.

Wisconsin D Courtney Burke became the Buffalo Beauts’ first draft pick, selected fourth overall. The junior from Albany, NY is a product of Shattuck-St. Mary’s and USA Hockey (as part of the silver-medal winning U-18 team in 2012). She can put up points, but has shifted to more of a supplemental role in college, excelling at moving and distributing the puck on a Badgers team with one of the best defenses in the nation. Last season she tallied 24 points in 40 games and was a +20.

The Beauts weren’t done after Burke. Their second pick, Sarah LeFort of Boston University, is a forward with back-to-back 50-point seasons on her resume; in fact, last year she was second only to Marie-Philip Poulin in goals and overall offense. She also did well on the power play, with 14 of her 50 points (7 G, 7 A) coming on the player-advantage. From the highlights I’ve seen, she does really well in transitions and can score from pretty much anywhere on the ice.

With two skater positions covered, the Beauts shifted their attention to the crease, snagging Amanda Leveille from Minnesota. Leveille is one of the top two goalies in the nation with a 1.18 GAA and a .948 save percentage, and she has been a key part of a dominant Golden Gophers team. She put up an impressive performance in the Championship game, withstanding late pressure from Harvard’s offense to clinch her second championship ring and Minnesota’s third in four years.

Two forwards and linemates from Mercyhurst rounded out the Beauts’ inaugural draft class. Emily Janiga and Jenna Dingeldein went 16th and 20th overall, and each of them provides excellent offensive support. Both are large forwards — Janiga at 5’11, Dingeldein at 6’1 — and each produced at a point-per-game pace or over this past year for the Lakers. Janiga led both her team and College Hockey America with 45 points over 35 games, and has the lucky bonus of being selected by the team basically in her hometown (she’s a native of East Aurora, about 20 miles southeast of Buffalo proper). Dingeldein is no slouch, with exactly one point per game to Janiga’s 1.29 and an average pace of 1.04 points per game over three seasons.

Suffice it to say the Beauts are going for a well-rounded approach — dynamic offense, capable defense and bar-down goaltending — and provided all of these players sign, it’ll be interesting to see how this will pan out for Buffalo in 2016-17, once they’re eligible to play. Stay tuned for more regarding free agent signings and other happenings at the Harborcenter as the summer progresses.

Draft Report: New York Riveters

I’m Annalise and I’m here to report on the Boston College Eagles post-grad team, otherwise known as the New York Riveters. In case you haven’t been following the NWHL’s first-ever draft, the Riveters, coming in strong with the first pick, proceeded to draft just about every eligible player coming out of BC. Which I suppose warrants a discussion of the value of established player rapport, which we’ll get to in a minute. However, a preliminary question:

Is Lexi Bender sad? Way to draft her… entire… team… and then let her get drafted by the Pride, which, since I’m driven by rivalries, real or not, means (if she ends up playing pro hockey in Boston) I can’t like her. Even though as far as my exhaustive research can tell, she is the only player drafted to the NWHL to have made public commentary about the modern tragedy that is Zayn Malik leaving One Direction. I could have loved you, Lexi Bender.

But we’re here to discuss the players that the Riveters did draft, aka my new favorites, aka:

Alex Carpenter, F, Boston College
Haley Skarupa, F, Boston College
Erin Ambrose, D, Clarkson University
Dana Trivigno, F, Boston College
Kimberly Newell, G, Princeton

Alex Carpenter was going to be a Riveter from the moment that Dani Rylan pulled their name first in the lottery—the 2015 recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award (which distinguishes the best female college hockey player in the U.S.), 2014 silver medalist with the U.S. team at the Sochi Olympics, two-time gold medalist at the IIHF World Women’s Championships in both 2013 and 2015, apparently good friends with Hilary Knight—the list of accolades goes on.

She’s also been highlighted as a leader through multiple assistant captaincies (for the Eagles and the 2015 IIHF team) and captaincy of the 2014 Four Nations Cup team. When she was 20. When I was 20 (now) I ate (eat) toast for 90% of my meals. She’s kind of a big deal, and given that she’s also described by almost everyone as a force not only offensively, but also in every capacity in which she operates, it was no surprise to see her drafted first.

Next up, the fifth overall pick, Haley Skarupa. She’s been Carpenter’s longtime linemate at BC and played alongside her on the 2015 IIHF WWC gold-medal-winning U.S. team. She was a top-10 finalist for this year’s Patty Kazmaier, and when Carpenter took the 2013-2014 season off to train for the Olympics, Skarupa stepped right up and became the team points leader. She has had and will continue to have the twin gift and curse of playing with the best—a rising tide lifts all boats, and her production as an Eagle is notably better when playing with Carpenter, but that can’t be an enjoyable asterisk to have after her accomplishments. I look forward to seeing if the Riveters take advantage of their experience playing together and keep them on a line, or if split them up and put them on lines with more experienced players. For reference, at Worlds this year they were kept together, with Skarupa the right-wing to Carpenter’s center.

Number nine overall and third to the Riveters was Erin Ambrose from Clarkson University. The only defenseman drafted by the Riveters, Ambrose has played impressively over the course of her time at Clarkson. She produces a ridiculous amount of points for a defensive player—in her sophomore season alone she had 50, which her university bio notes is seven more than any other defender in the nation. She was also the eighth-highest scorer in the nation… overall. Her +/- has twice been the best on her team. If I were any good at math I suspect I would discover that Erin Ambrose is a fancy stats dream.

Ambrose, notably, had to miss the ends of both of her last two seasons, including the 2014 playoff run that led to Clarkson taking home the NCAA championship. It’s been described simply as an ‘ankle injury,’ and while it’s certainly not a good sign that it’s been recurring, hopefully it proves to be a non-issue over the course of the next year and into Ambrose’s NWHL play. Since this is hockey, I find it relevant to note that Ambrose is the first Canadian drafted by the Riveters!

Dana Trivigno was the final forward, American, and BC Eagle to be drafted by the Riveters, going 13th overall. She typically plays at center, and does so extremely well, having played on the aforementioned gold-medal-winning U.S. IIHF WWC team with Carpenter and Skarupa. She also played in the 2014 Four Nations Cup and, over the last three years has proven a reliable and durable player. A native of Setauket, NY, Trivigno has the honor of (so far!) being the only Riveter who can run home on the weekends to do laundry.

The Riveters’ final selection was Kimberly Newell, a goaltender currently playing with the Princeton Tigers. Newell also holds down the other half of the Riveters’ current Canadian contingent, having represented her country at a number of Under-18 tournaments and series. She’s started over 25 games every season of her collegiate career so far, and in her most recent season had a .925 save percentage and a 2.36 GAA.

Newell is a year above grade level, and therefore younger than the other draftees—that, plus the Riveters’ late selection of a goalie (the Pride drafted a goalie with their second pick, the Beauts with their third, and the Whale must know something I don’t or plan on being very defensively responsible, because they didn’t draft one at all) leads me to suspect that they have a very strong starting goalie coming in from another source.

And that’s the New York Riveter’s 2015 draft class! They are, individually and collectively, almost embarrassingly good hockey players. Welcome to the Riveters, Alex, Haley, Erin, Dana and Kimberly, I’m looking forward to seeing you on the ice for the 2016/2017 season!

CWHL Expansion Planned, Prairie Toyota Clarkson Cup Tour

CWHL Board Approves League Expansion

The CWHL sent out a press release today, announcing that their Board has approved the recommendations of their expansion task force, and they will be looking to add a team or possibly teams in new markets. Their expansion taskforce, led by Caitlin Cahow, a CWHL alumna, has identified new markets for the CWHL where there is a critical mass of elite level women hockey players who are not presently playing at the professional level. Top of their list was the US Midwest.

“Our strategic plan has always envisioned further expansion in to the US market, and we are pleased that the board has shown its support to move forward at this time,” said CWHL commissioner, Brenda Andress. “We will build from our success in the Boston area and enter in to talks with parties in Chicago and Minneapolis/St.Paul, as well as select Canadian markets. Until the CWHL, or any league, can pay players a living wage, it is incumbent on us to provide players with the opportunity to play in markets where they live, work and study.”

We’ve seen some buzz in the past about CWHL expansion, and specifically CWHL expansion to the Midwest. The Hockey Writers had a piece on the potential Minnesota bid last summer, and espnW had a piece on why expansion was eventually nixed. Other bids we’ve heard about in the past have been for Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Dani Rylan, now commissioner of the NWHL, was deeply involved with the New York bid.

While I’m SUPER EXCITED about the idea of the CWHL putting a team local to me in the Twin Cities, and I definitely know there’s plenty of elite players here, I’ve got some concerns. First, and most importantly is, why is the league pursuing expansion before they can pay players? While placing teams where players can live and work is important, it’s only of top priority if you can’t pay players. The CWHL seems to be putting their bet on only paying players if they can pay a “living wage”, presumably at least a minimum full-time wage, but they’ve been increasingly vague over the past few years about what their timeline is for paying players. While there is definitely an argument for establishing a flourishing league with a solid fanbase before adding full salaries, it’s not a line I like seeing pursued without a more solid commitment on the table to paying players. While we have no clue yet about how the NWHL will do as a league, I admit I’m very partial to their strategy of paying players a smaller, part-time wage at first, and increasing the wage as the league becomes established. (The NWHL’s time commitment they require of players, in practices and games played, is also commensurately smaller.)

Another concern of mine is with the two Midwest markets Andress mentioned, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago. The Twin Cities and greater Minnesota are definitely loaded with really solid women hockey players, with great college programs like the University of Minnesota Gophers, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, even right over the border the University of Wisconsin, and the University of North Dakota. The Twin Cities have a solid job market, and a gajillion rinks to find home ice at. The problem is, Minnesota is inundated with hockey. SO much hockey. We have high school hockey, girls and boys. We have college hockey, men and women’s. We have NHL hockey.

Right now, if I want to see elite women players, a team full of Olympians, I can already go watch the Gophers play. The Gophers have won 5 NCAA Championships, including last year’s. They went undefeated in 2013. They have game streaming, and a dedicated rink that’s decently easy to get to. If the CWHL wants to put a team in the Twin Cities, they’re going to need to distinguish themselves from the rest of the hockey somehow, and I’ll be honest, they have not inspired me with confidence that they can do this. This isn’t as much of a slight on the CWHL as it looks like– the Minnesota Wild, with their much much larger budget for things like marketing and PR, also had trouble with this initially when they first started here, because there is just so much hockey. (Well, and also they weren’t the North Stars, but that’s another conversation.)

Chicago, much as I hate to say it, may be the better proposal, from my armchair judgement. It’s a larger metro area, and their two other major women’s teams, the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, are doing pretty well and have solid fanbases. Even the Sky’s average attendance of 6,685 last year, ranked 9th in a 12 team league, is way, way more than any CWHL team can claim. Between the interest in women’s sports, and the growing interest in hockey that the success of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks team has engendered, there could be a really sweet spot for the CWHL to put a women’s hockey team into.

A serious problem for any Chicago team would be the lack of ice available in the city itself. Currently, only Johnny’s Ice House (two buildings, four sheets of ice) and McFetridge Sports Center (one sheet of ice) are the only arenas available to many teams in the city itself. There’s currently a proposal in the works for the Blackhawks to build a new practice center that would add two more sheets of ice, and would be available to rec teams. Getting regular home ice at the same arena, at an arena that is easy for fans to get to and park at, is a real concern for any CWHL team, but one that might be particularly hard for an expansion team in Chicago.

One thing both Chicago and the Twin Cities share as expansion destinations is that they would add another more western team, so the poor Inferno would be able to cut down some travel time! Both locations also have major airline hubs, so finding flights to and from those locations might be easier (and cheaper) than it could be.

Spitballing about locations aside, I don’t know that we’re going to see a sixth team added for the 15/16, but the CWHL did leave the door open for it. Practically, what we’ve seen in the past is that applicants for new teams were expected to raise $400,000 to $500,000 annually to cover airfares, hotel and related expenses, and that’s a hell of a lot of money to pull out of your pocket on short notice.

Prairie Toyota Clarkson Cup Tour Kicks Off Today!

We saw some mention of the Prairie Toyota Clarkson Cup Tour in the announcement that the CWHL had brought Prairie Toyota — a network of 37 Toyota dealerships in 26 cities across the Prairies– on as their official automobile sponsor. It turns out that the Tour will go to 26 cities, and feature the Toronto Furies’ Natalie Spooner, the former Calgary Inferno player, current assistant coach Meaghan Mikkelson traveling with the Clarkson Cup. They’ll also be bringing a synthetic ice surface along, allowing kids along the way to test their skills.

You can find the complete schedule and enter to win a car on the Prarie Toyota’s website.

I gotta say, I really like this as a publicity move for the CWHL. I’m a little meh on why the couldn’t get a Boston player to come along, since Boston is the current Cup champion, but my understanding is that Mikkelson at the least has strong ties to the area, and both are quite recognizable names for their time with Team Canada. Here’s hoping it drums up a bunch of new fans!

Friday Read: New York Riveters move to Brooklyn, Boston Blades new managment

The NWHL Signs Janine Weber

“Janine is a big power forward, who has a great net-front presence and knack for scoring big goals,” [Rylan] said. “The New York Riveters are thrilled to welcome Janine to the team and we are excited to watch her game continue to grow.”

NWHL Moves New York Riveters Home Rink to Brooklyn

The NWHL founder and commissioner Dani Rylan, who also serves as New York Riveters GM, announced to media Thursday morning that the League had recently signed a contract for the Riveters with Aviator Sports and Events in Brooklyn, New York.

CWHL ANNOUNCES BOSTON BLADES’ MANAGEMENT TEAM

The CWHL announced today that it has appointed the team of Krista Patronick and Michelle Clement-Billingsley to lead the management and operations of the Boston Blades. Patronick assumes the role of general manager, while Clement-Billingsley is director of operations.

Janine Weber First Player to Sign with NWHL

This morning, the NWHL had a press conference to announce that Janine Weber is the first free agent to sign with the NWHL. She will be playing with the New York Riveters come October! The contract is for one year, and an undisclosed financial amount, but remember: there’s a $270,000 salary cap per team.

This was quite a surprise to me, as I’d heard that Weber was signed with HC Linköping-Dam, the Swedish women’s team that Florence Schelling recently signed with. Weber was in attendance at the Connecticut Whale’s free agent camp previously.

Janine Weber has played for the Austrian National Team, and for the Providence College Friars during the 2013-2014 season. She also played for the Boston Blades during the 2014-2015 season, where she won the Clarkson Cup. She is listed as a forward, but we’ve seen her show up on the back-end occasionally. While she’s not always a flashy player, Weber is a really excellent and complementary player. Mike Burse found her to be the fourth best player in the CWHL to have on the ice in a close game.

All in all, exciting news!

Weekly Read: Poulin to CWHL, Ambrose a top NWHL prospect

Olympic star Marie-Philip Poulin coming back to CWHL

“My first choice was always to come back home to Quebec and have the opportunity to play for the Montreal Stars,” Poulin said in a statement. “The team has a great leadership core with so many skilled players, it would be an honour for me to join such an exceptional group.”

Defender Erin Ambrose a Top Prospect For NWHL Draft

Ambrose has made herself into a boon both defensively and offensively to her team, coming in to her freshman year at Clarkson as one of the top defensive prospects in the country, and immediately becoming a top-two defender for the university. She scored six goals and 30 assists in her freshman year, winning the ECAC’s Rookie of the Year award and placing on the All-ECAC Second Team.

A Guide to the CWHL & NWHL Drafts: When, Where, and How to Follow

This summer, we have not one, but two drafts for women’s hockey; the 2015 CWHL draft, and the first ever entry draft for the NWHL. The two events are very similar, but there are a few key differences.

2015 NWHL Entry Draft LogoThe inaugural NWHL entry draft will be held on June 20th, with the pre-draft lottery to determine order happening in Buffalo on June 8th. The first overall pick went to the New York Riveters, then the Connecticut Whale, the Boston Pride, and the Buffalo Beauts. (In subsequent drafts, the order will be determined by win-loss record of the organizations.) You can check out a video of the lottery on the NWHL website.

 It’s open to college players from four-year colleges who have just completed their junior year. A player who is drafted but does not sign with the organization that selected her, may enter into free-agency after completing her senior year. A player who is eligible to be selected and is not drafted becomes a free agent after completing her senior year. Currently, the NWHL is releasing a list of the top twenty prospects here.

The NWHL will announce each draft pick live on social media starting at 12 p.m. EST. Those interested in live updates should follow @NWHL_ on Twitter, as well as each of the four teams: @TheBostonPride, @BuffaloBeauts, @CTWhale_NWHL, @NYRiveters. We’re told that information will also be available on Facebook, Instagram, and NWHL.co, which will host a Draft Live page on June 20.

CWHL 2015 Draft Logo

The CWHL draft will be held on August 23rd. The team that finished last in the standings (this year, the Brampton Thunder) will pick first. Last year, they posted the prospect pool to their website, and there was a live draft ticker that tracked who’d been taken by which teams, making it relatively easy to follow along. Some teams also live-tweeted their picks; a good bet is to follow @CWHL_insider, the league’s official Twitter account.

This draft is open to players who are over the age of twenty, who have not previously signed a contract with any CWHL club or professional league, who are not listed as reserves on any team roster, who are not committed to any NCAA or CIS program, and who have not previously been drafted by any CWHL team. The players can choose up to three teams that are in a city they live or can live close to (Toronto and Brampton count as one choice, because they’re both in the GTA). This somewhat limits the CWHL teams during the draft, as they can’t draft someone who is unable to relocate to that city, for whatever reason.

The two drafts are very similar, however where the NWHL can draft basically anyone, the CWHL is limited by the players’ geographical preference. For example, Marie Philip Poulin has entered the draft, but if she only provides Montreal as a geographic preference, she can only be drafted by the Montreal Stars, because she is only able to live or work in Montreal. The NWHL draft has a very similar approach to the NHL in terms of free agency; if a player doesn’t sign with a team, they’re eligible to become a free agent (similar to what’s currently happening with Mike Reilly, originally a Columbus draft pick, he is now meeting with eight teams after graduating to decide where to sign.)