It would be hard to imagine that anyone mourns the soon to occur passing of 2020, and we are as excited as anyone to be on the cusp of 2021. And with that of course, as a result of the ongoing pandemic, January 2021 will mark the start of the NWHL Season in a Bubble. All of the fans of Cetacean Nation, and we have 137,000 of you have checked in to date, wait in great anticipation for Season Six to commence on January 23rd. Equally exciting is the fact that the semi finals and championship games will be carried on live national television by NBC Sports. Despite the trying times, the NWHL and women’s hockey in general, is continuing to grow and attract both fans and supporters as never before.
Lake Placid will be the first opportunity to see the newest manifestation of our Whale that Head Coach Colten Orr and Assistant Coach Laura Brennan will put out on the ice. Currently that 22 player roster looks like this:
Goalies (3) Brooke Wolejko, Abbie Ives & Mariah Fujimagari
Forwards (12) Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Kaycie Anderson, Melissa Samoskevich, Nicole Guagliardo, Emma Vlasic, Maddie Bishop, Sarah Schwenzfeier, Katelynn Russ, Janine Weber, Kayla Friesen, Amanda Conway & Grace Klienbach
Defenders (7) Taylor Marchin, Tori Howran, Shannon Doyle, Laurel Hill, Maggie LaGue, Elena Orlando & Hanna Beattie
And with this squad, the Whale have assembled a talented and interesting roster of players. Players whose skills and passions will be displayed, in the Whale tradition, both on and off the ice. The women who have donned the Whale sweater in the past, and those who do so again this season, would be role models even if they never laced up a pair of skates. One never knows beyond a certainty what the future may hold, and players who have departed at one point or another could return some day, to join the ranks of what we term our “Once and future Whale”. Because as all of Cetacean Nation knows, once a Whale, always a Whale. But for now and until we learn differently, we offer a fond farewell and many thanks to this group of players who have finned into different waters, both in and out of hockey. They are these following Amazings who last played for us in Season Five:
Alexa Arumburu, Jordan Brickner, Kendra Broad, Brinna Dochniak, Maddie Evangelous, Cassie “Casper” Goyette, Elena Gualtieri, Erin Hall, Sarah Hughson, Allie LaCombe, Kayla Meneghin, Jane Morrisette, Haley Payne & Sonjia Shelley.
Cetacean Nation always views the reshuffling of the rosters as a bittersweet experience. There are always players that depart which we wished didn’t (read: ALL of them). But we also realize there are many different forces at work here, in both the players' decisions and the decisions of each team. And, 50 or 60 player rosters aren’t a thing. So of course we get fully behind each year’s amazing new edition of our Pod. But we always remember those whose efforts in the past, helped make the Whale culture what it is today. Because to Whale fans, every last one of our Pod, is simply unforgettable.
And speaking of former Whale, there will be nine of them, as of today, suiting up in the Season Six bubble come January 23rd. They are:
Shiann Darkangelo, Emma Greco & Emily Fluke for the Toronto Six; Kelly Babstock & Sonjia Shelley for the Metropolitan Riveters; Kayla Meneghin for the Buffalo Beauts; Amanda Boulier & Nina Rodgers for the Minnesota Whitecaps; and of course Kaleigh Fratkin for the Boston Pride.
A final note: The NWHL recently announced that with the help and guidance from USA Hockey, the upcoming bubble season will have an all-female officiating staff. As per the league announcement “The 10 officials selected to the NWHL officiating staff include Sarah Buckner (Crystal, Minn.), Erika Greenen (Romeoville, Ill.), Kendall Hanley (Minneapolis, Minn.), Alicia Hanrahan (St. Paul, Minn.), Jacqueline Howard (Gaithersburg, Md.), Jamie Huntley-Park (Escondido, Cali.), Jackie Spresser (Thornton, Colo.), Amanda Tassoni (Bradford, R.I.), Mackenzie Welter (Rome, N.Y.), and Laura White (Runnemede, N.J.).”
“We’re appreciative of the partnership that has been formed with the NWHL in an effort to promote and develop our female officials,” added Matt Leaf, director of USA Hockey’s officiating education program. “The officials that have been selected are highly skilled, motivated, and team-oriented officials who are up for the challenges that will be critical to the success of the NWHL season. “They are the brightest and best of our current and future top-level female officials who bring a balance of experience, versatility, loyalty, and an unmatched skill and a passion to be the best they can be each time they step on the ice.”
The NWHL further noted that the “..season is a milestone for pro hockey. While the league has had all-female officiating crews work games before, there has never been an all-female officiating initiative of this scale.” Pretty terrific stuff! Cetacean Nation would add only that the officiating crews of the 25 Whale games I last season that listed officiating crews, all were female. Fins Up to that! And for a little bit more about female hockey officiating, check out Katie Guay’s interview with us on this website: Katie Guay, Referee. Among other things, Katie officiated the first ever NWHL game. Which we never tire of reminding folks, was won by your Connecticut Whale.
🎉 Happy New Year 2021, the year Isobel comes home to Connecticut!