The NWHL free agency period finished last month! While there are still 11 contracts under wraps because of contract issues with former teams, there are fifteen known players signed with the Connecticut Whale as of mid-September. The roster includes Olympians like Chelsea Laden, and ex-CWHLers like Jessica Koizumi (formerly of the Boston Blades), adding up to eight forwards, four defence, and three goalies.
Shiann Darkangelo (Quinnipac)
Darkangelo, one of the three inaugural Connecticut Whale contract signings, led the Bobcats in goals in her junior year, and finished her NCAA career with 102 points in 144 games. She also has a silver medal from her time with the US Team at the 2014 Four Nations Cup.
Sam Faber (New Hampshire)
Faber has already had a taste of pro hockey, cutting her teeth in the CWHL with the Boston Blades in their inaugural season in 2010-11. She amassed 189 points in 143 games at New Hampshire, and finished top ten in Patty Kazmaier voting in 2007-08.
Jessica Koizumi (Minnesota Duluth)
As captain of the Bulldogs for two years, Koizumi finished her college career with 155 points in 132 games. As a member of the CWHL’s Boston Blades, she won the Clarkson Cup in 2013 and 2015, and a silver medal in 2007 as part of Team USA at the Four Nations Cup.
Danielle Ward (Maine)
Ward spent her NCAA career with two different teams, totalling 114 points in 117 games with Maine and the University of Southern Maine, and at USM, was named a recipient of the Husky Athletic Academic Achievement Award.
Michala Long (New Hampshire)
Long is another Boston Blades alumni, playing for them in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, collecting 25 points in 38 games. At New Hampshire, she played in four consecutive NCAA tournaments, three conference regular season championships, and two Hockey East tournament titles. She finished her college career with 126 points (without missing a single game) and a Patty Kazmaier nomination.
Kelly Babstock (Quinnipac)
Babstock is the all time scoring leader for Quinnipac University. As a freshman, she finished fifth in the nation in scoring, and didn’t slow down until her senior year, where she finished her college career with 203 points in 147 games, and four straight New England Division I All-Star bid. She was also the first Quinnipac player to finish top ten in Patty Kazmaier voting.
Brittany Dougherty (Maine)
Dougherty finished her NCAA career with 100 points in 128 games, and in her sophomore year led the team in scoring and points, repeating the feat again in her junior year, garnering Hockey Easy Honourable Mentions honours in 2012-13, and being named a Hockey East Second Team All Star.
Yekaterina Smolentseva (Russia)
Four-time Olympian Smolentseva is potentially the highest profile Whale signing of the summer. She’s played for the Russian National Team since 1999, has 35 points in 8 Women’s Worlds appearances, and led the team in scoring for three consecutive years (2007, 2008, 2009). She’s also competed in 4 straight Olympic games, with 14 points across those tournaments and was named captain for the squad during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Kaleigh Fratkin (Boston University)
Fratkin has the honour of being the first defencewoman signed by the Whale. During her senior season at college, she served as assistant captain and helped to lead BU to a Hockey East conference championship before finishing her NCAA career with 66 points in 151 games. Prior to this, she was the first woman to play in the BC Provincial league, winning the championship in 2010 with the Vancouver North West Giants. Yet another Boston Blades alumni, she won the Clarkson Cup with them in 2015, and also has a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2015 Four Nations Cup.
Tara Tomimoto (Yale)
Tomimoto graduated in 2014, after captaining the Bulldogs in her senior season and leading her team in assists in her junior season (second in points). She graduated with 46 points in 105 games over four years, and was named to the ECAC All-Academic Team for three years running.
Shannon Doyle (Boston University)
Doyle started her college career at Colgate, but played out of BU for her final two years, and totalled 78 points in 137 games with both the Raiders and the Terriers. With the Terriers, she was named a Hockey East First Team All Star and a New England Division I All Star, and in her senior season was one of only three players to block more than 100 shots, blocking a total of 106 shots all season.
Molly Engstrom (University of Wisconsin)
Engstrom is a two-time Olympian, winning silver in 2010 with Team USA, and bronze in 2006, becoming one of the two first Wisconsin players to represent Team USA. She has played over 100 games for Team USA, and has won four World Championship gold medals (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011) and two silver (2004, 2007). Engstrom has also played for the CWHL, playing with the Brampton Thunder in its first CWHL season in 2008, before playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps, returning to the Thunder, and ending her CWHL career with the Boston Blades in 2013, after winning the Clarkson Cup.
Chelsea Laden (Quinnipac)
Laden has made history as the first player to ever sign with the Connecticut Whale, and is probably the smartest bet for their starting goaltender. She finished college with a .926 save percentage, a 1.56 GAA, and an incredible 26 shutouts in 88 games. Because of her performance this past season (.930 SV%, 1.16 GAA and 16 shutouts), she was named Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year by the ECAC.
Nicole Stock (Brown)
At Brown, Stock played 91 games, and finished her career with a 2.75 GAA and a .921 save percentage after facing over 3000 shots on goal. In her freshman year she split time in goal, but shone with a 1.60 GAA and a .938 save percentage to steal the starting gig her sophomore year, which she kept until graduation.
Jaimie Leonoff (Yale)
Leonoff played 99 games for the Bulldogs in total from 2011 to 2015, and had the starting gig from the 2012-13 season onwards. By graduation, she held records in save percentage (.918), GAA (2.96), saves (3107) and wins (26), and was selected team MVP in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
There are still four forwards and two defencewomen whose details haven’t officially been released, but as soon as they are, this post will be updated with their names and details. If you want to read more about the Whale, Kate Cimini wrote about their first practice/media day over at Today’s Slapshot!