With the announcement on 4/28 of the Season Six NWHL Award Winners, we can close the book on the most “unique” season in league history. Free Agency is upon us, and dates have been set for try-out camps and the draft. On June 12th the Whale will be hosting their Free Agent Camp, ironically enough at the Rivs old digs at the Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark, NJ. And last week the NWHL announced the details for the 2021 Draft, which will be held on Tuesday, June 29. More info both of those events on the league website at nwhl.zone.
So the Whale brain trust, Amy Scheer, Colton Orr and Laura Brennan will be busy putting formulating evaluations, strategies, draft and free agency decisions, and core team retentions. Every team, regardless of which pro sport, turns over about one third of their roster each season. Some much higher, and 75% turnovers are not unheard of. The Pod were at roughly 40% turnover last season from Season Five. Cetacean Nation always views the re-shuffling of the rosters as a bittersweet experience at best. There are always players that depart which we wished didn’t). But we also realize there are many different forces at work here, in both the players decision and the decisions of each team. So we get fully behind each year’s amazing new edition of our Whale. That is largely possible because “Once a Whale, always a Whale” is not just the slogan of the citizens of Cetacean Nation. It is part and parcel of the the inclusive culture of the Pod. We never forget, because to us Whale fans, every last one of our Pod, is simply unforgettable. And we are always ready and excited, as is the Pod, to warmly embrace new arrivals to The Most Excoting Team In Hockey, our Connecticut Whale.
And those new arrivals can come in variety of ways. They can come on Draft Night as Kayla Friesen, Amanda Conway, Maddie Bishop, Tori Howran and Nicole Guagliardo did last season. And as Samantha Donovan, Nina Rogers, Syd Rossman and Paige Savage did from previous drafts. And again, two off season signings last year, Melissa Samoskevich and Maggie LaGue, where previous Whale draft selections. That’s a pretty talented mini-Pod of Amazings right there.
And of course there are the potential for free agent signings as well, as we saw with the additions last year of Abbie Ives, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Mariah Fujimagari, Kenzie Lancaster, Maeve Reilly, Sarah Hughson and Rachael Ade. Alyssa, Rachael and Sarah have also now joined the list of “Once and Future” Whale as well. They are players who played for the Pod, were no longer on the active roster (for a variety of reasons) and returned to the ice to play for the Whale. There have been seven such players in Whale team history, as Laura Brennan, Grace Klienbach, Jessica Koizumi and Shenae Lundberg are also “Once and Future Whale”. Perhaps one day, we’ll see more. So whether by draft, free agency, or by core player retention, keeep your nose to the wind to catch a scent of what the Pod is cookin’ in the coming weeks.
SOUL AND INSPIRATION
Those words can describe our Amazing Captain Shannon Doyle as well as any in describing her contribution to the Whale since game one Season One. In raw numbers, Shannon is the Pod’s All-time leader in games played, shots blocked & penalty minutes, and third in points scored. But as anyone who is familiar with the NWHL knows she has been much more than the sum of her stats, both on and off the ice. Shannon once gave us this to pass on to the fans in one of her interviews with us:
“If you do come and watch us play, I promise you will love the level of play and how much each player cares about the fans, too!”
For the entirety of her six seasons with the Pod, Shannon backed up those words with her actions. And now Shannon has indicated that Season Six was likely her last. But considering again the “unique” nature of that campaign, speculation about her playing in Season Seven have begun surfacing. And even if she does hang up her skates before the start of Season Seven, don’t retire that #6 just yet. With everything Shannon has been fir the team, “A Once and Future Whale” doesn’t seem that much of a stretch.
“Not A Whale, But…”
We heard recently from another voice from “The Other Side of the Glass” Dylan Faraci, who is the Administrator of the Facebook Group “Connecticut Whale (NWHL) Fan Group”.Speaking of the Pod and the NWHL, he offered the following:
"I am a huge sports fan and I think there should be a high level of sports for everyone. With the NWHL, it’s helped bring more exposure to the game of ice hockey and provides women the opportunity to play at a high level, outside of the Olympics."
Dylan continued "I was attracted to the Whale because I am a Connecticut resident and support all pro teams in the state and metropolitan area. I also loved the branding connections with the Whalers in the former AHL franchise. Unfortunately I have not been able to make it to a game yet, but I started the Facebook group to help spread the word of the team and league to bring new eyes to the league."
Fins Up to that! And be sure to head over to Facebook and check out Dylan’s site!