WHALE'S TALES 11/7/19: The Name Game


There are NHL players in the Hockey Hall of Fame, who were eligible to be drafted by an NHL team, and were passed by. And there will be more. Maybe their names were not recognized, or more likely the recognition did not inspire any GM at the time. Fortunately for Whale fans, our GM Bray Ketchum has a keen eye for talent, and knows a lot of really good names. And now we do too.

We all know who Sojo, Wojo, Cujo, and J-Mo are now, but maybe not so much a few months ago. Likewise names like Vlasic, Hall, Broad, Payne & Evangelous are now all integral parts of the Most Exciting Team in Hockey. But they were not names being bandied about the rink as last season came to a close. To be certain, Bray’s Bunch has a core of remarkable young veterans that we have loved for years, but it had to be replenished and enriched, and it was. By names we may not have been familiar with, but who we are now looking towards to wreak havoc over the balance of the schedule. Fins Up to that!

Now one day we may get tired of re-quoting this excerpt from our former #12 Jamie Goldsmith, but today is not that day. In Jamie’s interview here on the website, she said the following:

“The margin of talent at this level is so much closer together than any level I have played before. There is not a huge, huge difference between the Olympians, and the players that just miss the cut for their respected national teams, and the players just below that. What the league has done is give women the opportunity to continue to develop beyond college. So that is why we are seeing players that had considerably average college careers, or players rising out of the Division III ranks, succeeding at the pro level. As a believer in development through hard work, the right priorities, and attitude, it is awesome to see. What I am getting at, is team chemistry can make all the difference at this level.”

Combine that thoughtful, insightful and concise message from Jamie with a simple fact. Beginning with the 2019 college graduating classes, every player has had the NWHL in existence their entire collegiate career. And every player now entering college, and prep school or high school, will experience that on top of what they already know of the league. The hockey community is not small, but it is close knit. Everyone knows the NWHL exists, and pro hockey is a possibility for anyone. Truly, if you can play, you can now play, to borrow a phrase. Ar some point or another, there is an epiphany in an athlete’s career. A moment, a play, a game, a season, where they realize they are more than they ever thought they could be. When their name is now part of the game. When they realize that what they are experiencing at the college level, can be experienced at the professional level. Experienced, by them. And now there is a growing thriving market for them to enter. The only problem is, there are more really good players than there are teams for them to play on. But, there is a fix for that kind of problem, and it’s name is Growth. Cetacean Nation will state for the record, that the growth will come. And sooner than later, And a lot more of those as of yet unidentified Future Draft Picks out there will be the next group of names we cheer at the rink, and wear on the back of shirts, and read about here. And that’s the name of that game.

Another great new partner has joined the NWHL family, NormaTec recovery products. According to the league statement “As part of the sponsorship, NormaTec will provide each of the five NWHL teams with the company’s state-of-the-art PULSE 2.0 systems, which are used by athletes as both a high-tech warmup and a post-workout recovery tool. In addition to promotion on the NWHL’s global streams on Twitch and the league’s social media platforms, NWHL players will lead activations with NormaTec products at select events.” Player reaction has been immediate and positive about this significant addition to our team. Our #8 Erin Hall tweeted “Excited that I now have access to 2(!) pairs of @NTRecovery boots! I’m so glad I invested in a pair for at home while also being able to use them with @CTWhale_NWHL Thanks for supporting the #NWHL @NTRecovery 💪🏼” You can find out more about NormaTec and all our NWHL sponsors and partners by going to our menu and clicking on SPONSORS. Fins up to that and to the role our former #4 Anya Packer and the NWHLPA play in these great partnerships as well.

Final note, you can catch the Pod in exhibition play when they travel up to New Hampshire to face-off against Saint Anselm’s this Saturday, November 9th. You get to see Whale playing, and probably coaching as well. our #3 Kayla Meneghin, Assistant Coach for the Hawks has indicated that will most likely be the case for her. Fins up to this cool event! 

WHALE'S TALE'S 10/22/19: SNAPSHOTS

Things are off to an exciting start, with three games under our belt, and one eighth of the season on the books already. No slow down for awhile, as we welcome the MInnesota Whitecaps to Danbury this coming weekend. A chance perhaps to see some former Whale now skating with the ‘Caps: Boo Boulier, Nina Rodgers and Sam Donovan! It is a great opportunity for the Whale, as we are only two points behind the Whitecaps in the standings, and have a game in hand. Their visit to Connecticut for two on Saturday and Sunday offers a great opportunity to make a move in the standings. Against the defending Isobel Champs. And the Riveters are just one point ahead of us after three games, and they visit the undefeated Pride for a pair this weekend. So depending on the outcome, there is an opportunity to gain position against the Riveters as well. All if we take care of business in our house before the league’s three week hiatus.

And at this point in the season, let’s take a quick peek at some of the Pod’s statistical leaders. Goalie Sonjia Shelly has the third best GAA in the league at 2.95. And for comparison, Meeri Raisanen posted a 3.03 GAA last season, so good company for Sojo to be keeping! Our points leaders are Jordan Brickner with four, and Sarah Hughson with three, and they are 1-2 in assists (3-2) while Jane Morrisette leads in goals with two. Shannon Doyle (16) and Grace Klienbach (10) lead in SOG. Shannon also leads in blocked shots (9) followed by Taylor Marchin (6).

Emma Vlasic is doing a great job on face offs and leads the team in number of draws taken, wins, and winning percentage (60%). And Kayla Meneghin leads in the take-way category with three. But perhaps our favorite stat is that in only three games, thirteen different players have found their way onto the score sheet for our Whale, And one of those thirteen players just joined Bray’s Bunch last week, Haley Payne. She picked up her first NWHL goal Sunday to help spark our third period comeback try. Can you say balanced attack? Our Pod can! The great mix of players on the Pod is worth noting as well. Our current roster of 19 players is made up of 3 goalies, 5 defenders, and 11 forwards, with some D/F experience among a couple of, players. And in terms of experience, there are ten veterans, seven rookies and two first year players who make up our roster.

It is worth noting that it was a busy week off the ice as well, as the NWHL announced two great new partners/sponsors had joined the league, as Pocket Dryer and Opendorse came aboard. And the Whale have a fintastic new health partner, Nuvance. More details on these and our other amazing supporters can be found on this site on the page titled NWHL SPONSORS (see menu). One of the sponsors listed there, our broadcast partner, Twitch, has a creative new NWHL promotion that just launched last weekend. And Cetacean Nation, they are really playing your tune on this one! You are the most amazing fanbase in sport, and here is a chance to be rewarded for just being what you already are: the most engaged fans of the most exciting team in hockey! More details on how you can win, among other things, a trip to the Isobel Cup Finals, here: buff.ly/2MW8Ihr

And if you are in love with the new Whale uniforms and the amazing Whale Green, why not make it part of your Halloween costume, or the costume of your Little Future Draft Pick(s)? Even Pucky is wearing Whale gear for Halloween, maybe a #1 Brooke Wolejko shirsey? Pucky was wearing Wojo’s #1 sweater on Opening Day if you recall! You can get 15% of on shirseys by using the Promo Code; COSTUME15, Order by October 23rd to receive them in time for Halloween! Check it out here: theloyalist.com/whale. Fins Up, see you around the rink!

WHALE’S TALES 10/7/19: Opening Day: Bray & Laura’s Excellent Adventure

If you were fortunate enough to be at the Danbury Ice Arena For Saturday’s events, you will not soon forget what you saw. For starters, the new home of the Whale exceeded expectation. It is a great rink to watch hockey in, and it is easily accessed, and has more than ample parking. There is plenty of room for Little Future Draft Picks to roam around before and after the game as well.The Whale’s “forever home” as #94 Grace Klienbach has dubbed it, is one we can be proud of.

The atmosphere was electric and fun, from start to finish. The Girls Try Hockey For Free program prior to the game was a huge success, and a big part of the overall success of the day. It provided a lot of “Kodak moments” to be sure, and truly underscored the player’s mantra that “ It’s why we do what we do.” If you saw Commissioner Dani Rylan at any point during the afternoon, her smile and demeanor reflected exactly how amazing the day was. And the look on the faces of the Little Future Draft Picks, whether during the clinic, during the game, or during the autograph session, was worth the price of admission alone.

And the game itself was fantastic. The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once told the Green Bay Packers “We will strive to be perfect this season. And we will fail. But by striving to be perfect, we will achieve excellence.” Well, the Pod wasn’t perfect out on the ice Saturday, but they were excellent. We have said before that our Whale are the most exciting team in hockey. That remained true in Game One, but something else was true too, and it is simply this: Taking nothing away from a talented and victorious Beauts team, the Whale were the best team on the ice in Danbury on this day.  Not only were there a “lot of great take-always” “real positives” and “things to build on”(which of course there were) but there was something more. The excellence.

The stats are part of the story, but as our former #92 Katka Mrazova said ”Stats are like bikinis. They show a lot but not everything.” So we are juiced by the dominance the Pod showed in stats like shots on goal or the nine blocks, recorded by our defense alone. We can get excited about Grace scoring the first goal in a Whale season for the second time in her career (assists now given to #14 Elena Orlando & #24 Sarah Hughson) or about extended stretches when no one picked up a loose puck unless they were wearing a Whale sweater.

But there was something more. The most exciting team in hockey just looked like quicksilver on ice, and fans took note. It was not only exciting, it was game planned, coached and implemented with attitude.. The end result of that was excellence. That is what we saw on the ice Saturday from the Whale. All of the fans in Cetacean Nation knew this would be an exciting team, now we know, and so do the Pod, that they are an excellent team. Bad teams don’t win. Sometimes even good teams don’t win. Excellent teams generally do over the course of the season. That season is has started, the team has plotted that course, and Cetacean Nation thinks it will be a most excellent adventure. Fins Up!

BITS AND PIECES

The new Whale jerseys are an instant classic! Every bit as awesome as they seemed in photos, and even more so in person!

Something else you might have noriced at the rink was  Pucky, the green Whale mascot. It is unclear if the amazing and unexpected Pucky was there on a masxot PTO, or will be a permanent part of the Pod. We will keep you posted.🐳

Among the many cool things at Danbury Ice Arena.,we loved the Zamboni, and found out It even has a name: Danboni the Zamboni!

Wearing sweater #2 Maddie Evangelous had a strong game on wing, and we would be surprised if she is not offered a permanent roster spot with Bray’s Bunch. She, along with our other two rookie forwards #7 Jane Morrisette and #15 Emma Vlasic, all took regular shifts and played with energy and veteran savvy.

We were without #3 Kayla Meneghin, who also coaches at St. Anselm’s. She will be back on the ice soon and will be a key performer for the Whale moving forward, just as she was last season.

Our #26 Jordan Brickner made a truly rare visit to Whale Jail Saturday. She entered the game with only eight PIM over four years in the league. But much more significantly,  she skated like she had jets on her skates on several rushes!

In addition, all of our young veterans, the nine returning players who suited up and our two experienced first year players, all showed great quickness, and used that quickness to backcheck and to go into the corners as well as attack.

And last but not least, Laura Brennan ran the show behind the bench again today, and did a fantastic job. And she dressed all three of our amazing rookie goaltenders! Sojo (and Sonjia played a terrific game) got the start but Wojo & Cujo we’re dressed and on the bench as well.  Laura’s intention  is to try to keep that trio in uniform for each game which is so perfect. Extra Fins Up to Laura for that!

WHALE’S TALES 10/1/19: The October Country

October Country . . . that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and mid-nights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. . . . Ray Bradbury

October seems the perfect time of year, and no where more so than on New England. And no one state in this region more than Connecticut. We mention this because foreboding and anticipation are adrenaline producing emotions not at all dissimilar in many regards, and can overlap at times. For example, Halloween. Or the feeling teams have when they come to play against the Pod. Most people recognize Bradbury from his scinfy and fantasy books and stories, but he had a Whale connection too. He wrote the screenplay for John Houston’s iconic film version of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The subtitle to Moby Dick is,simply “The Whale”. The Whale, as in. well, our Whale.

But this October there is another Whale connection to Bradbury’s compelling October Country. Our former #78 OW goalie Chelsea Laden is a star of a TV show called, approximately enough, Destination Fear. The Discovery Channel where the show airs, teases the October 26th release this way:

DESTINATION FEAR”° Premieres Saturday, October 26 at 10 p.m. ET 

Destination Fear” may be the most terrifying road trip ever attempted. Maverick paranormal explorer Dakota Laden – who has spent the last few years investigating the frightening unknown with Zak Bagans and the “Ghost Adventures” crew – takes his sister, Chelsea, and best friend, Tanner, across the country in an RV to spend the night in the most haunted locations in America, testing the limits of human fear. His goal: to face their deepest, darkest fears and prove that the only way we can understand the paranormal is if we push ourselves to the limits of fear and overcome the terror it creates in us. (10 one-hour episodes)

Our amazing goalie and soon to be Dr. Chelsea Laden, explained it a bit further. “A little over 4 years ago my younger brother Dakota (who is in the film industry) wanted to create his own documentary. It took him over a year to finalize his concept but in 2016 he came up with the documentary, “Trail To Terror,” where he brought me as well as some of our mutual friends on a road trip to some of the top most haunted places in America. This idea didn’t just stem from nowhere, but it was actually based on a common hobby that we all shared growing up.”

Chelsea continued “Dakota, Tanner, Alex and I (who are all on the show as well) all grew up together. Growing up, we loved going to spooky, old, abandoned locations in Minnesota. We loved the thrill of being scared and also just loved urban exploring at locations that have a known history to them. My brother basically took our common hobby and turned it into something a lot more intense. This documentary was the inspiration for Travel Channel's upcoming show "Destination Fear". In addition to our history of being in a documentary together, Dakota also was previously part of Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” show where he grew more knowledge and experience in the paranormal” Because of contractual obligation not to leak spoilers, that was all Chelsea could offer at the moment. So if you have access to the Trave Channel, tune in for the premier, as Chelsea said “Just in time for Halloween” Fins Up to that!

Our Pod also has their premier this month, as we open up this week at home against the Beauts. Expect a few roster additions to be announced this week on social media, and we’ll update here as well. Currently Bray’s Bunch is sixteen strong, and could be bolstered by at least two or three skaters. If you were able to make it up to the exhibition against UConn, or caught the feed online, you are right in your impression that the score was the least important part of the day. There were certainly enough positive take-always from the game, but that is an oversimplification. Preseason exhibitions and practices reveal not just what works, but what doesn’t work. Any ice time the Pod gets is beneficial in that ways, beyond just tuning up the passes and shots and conditioning.

Our #94 Grace Klienbach alluded to this in her recent interview with us saying “ I am still jealous of all the men’s league where they get to play so many more games than we do. I do wish it was more like college with the number of games and practices. But we do have a lot of weekends this season where we are playing multiple games and which is awesome and I love it. I am really excited since gives you a little more time to bond and and get used to each other and even mess around with lines. I feel like you have to give everything a little bit of time, and this gives the coaches more time to see who works well together and who doesn’t and to try to mash it out before we make our push for the playoffs” And Fins Up to that!

The Pod will be skating out in brand new uniforms, the best of the forty shades of green! The new Whale jerseys are avaiable on the NWHL website NOW!  Go to www.theloyalist.com/whale.and get yourself all Whale’d Up! New colors, new season, new arena, new opportunity!  And speaking of opportuniy, here is a great one for anyone in Cetacean Nation.‪to be part of the action this season at Danbury Ice Arena. If your “goal” is to “assist” in helping our Pod bring Isobel to Connecticut next March, then fill out this form: https://bit.ly/2fYFcv1 Game Day volumteers are needed, so apply to join the Green Wave, and see how you can help!‬ And if you haven’t already picked.the dates that you are coming to Danbury, now is the time. And let’s start with Saturday, The green sea that is Cetacean Nation will be flooding the town of Danbury for every home game, beginning October 5th turning it into (Connecticut Whale ) Fan-bury! It is the newest community in Connecticut, and the greenest! Be loud, be proud, and be a crowd,! These are your Connecticut Whale!

 

Update 10/1/19: Our #19 Sarah Schwenxfeier has signed on again for her second season with the Pod. an extemely athletic forward, Sarah is a strong skater and can play a physical srtle. The addition by GM Bray Ketchum Peel now puts Brays Bunch at nine forwards, five defenders and a full” complement of three goaltenders.

Update 10/1/19: Terrific news today for the Pod with the great partnership with our new team physici, Dr. Marc Kowalsky and ONS (Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists) ! 🔗: buff.ly/2oCLFzt

Update 10/2/19:The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) today announced that the Player Safety Committee (PSC) will once again be led by Kelly Cooke during the 2019-20 season. 🔗: buff.ly/2mKvJdX

Update 10/2/19: The NWHL announce a partnership today with the consulting group Girsch Sports. Girsch Sports’ managed services will support activities for the league and teams, focusing on technology, sponsorships and game presentation. 🔗‘::buff.ly/2ofTxaa

Update 10/3/19: Today, the National Women’s Hockey League named Made in America brand, American Giant, the official apparel sponsor of the NWHL. American Giant will be exclusively outfitting all NWHL players nationwide with complete sets of team-branded warmups and leisure gear. 🔗: buff.ly/2pqxrlD

Update 10/3/19: This morning rhe NWHL also announced that Deputy Commissioor Haley Moore, has been hired as the new President of the Boston Pride. Fins Up Haley! 🔗: : buff.ly/2nPrvT4

WHALE’S TALES 9/23/19: Come Together, Right Now

A lot of exciting new things happening as we count down the final days until our Pod hits the ice up at UConn this Saturday. Bray’s Bunch now has an official coaching staff that has been getting the Pod ready for the season. Our new head coach Colton Orr, someone with deep Danbury connections, will be assisted by one of our Amazings, our former #33 Laura Brennan! Tomorrow will mark the third official team practice, and we’ll have another before facing the Huskies. Free admission to that game, so it is a great chance to see some of our returning players and our rookies and first year players continue to build their chemistry.

The roster currently stands at sixteen players, so there are still roster spots open, most nutably at forward, and it will be exciting to see who will be joining or re-joining the Pod over the next bit of time. All of our veteran players, and five of our new players have interviews on the website here, and a few more are in process. So if you haven’t done so, you might want to take a look to get to know your Pod a little better. And whenever possible, we will continue to add stories of not only our current roster players, but of of their predecessors as well. The only active players we have from season one at the moment, are Elena, Jordan and Shannon. But the stories of our other players from seasons pas, who are swimming in different waters, provide the links in the chain that connects them to our present squad to the past. And also connects them all to us, the fans. Fins Up to our Amazings for sharing their stories with us!

A lot of positive news coming from the league as well, with a new owner for the Boston Pride, a new ticketing/marketing partner in Aspire and our new three year deal with Twitch to be our streaming partner. And we’ve also gained a great new partner in Chipwich. And our long time partner1,, Dunkin’ Donuts, back with us for Season Five! As always, these sponsors and partners are listed on the NWHL site they along with individual player sponsors are featured on our page here called NWHL Partners. And speaking of sponsors, there are seven Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Danbury, including one open 24 hours! on Main Street. Chipwich is available at Stop & Shop, Shop Rite and Big Y stores among others, in Connecticut.

Also a special shout out to Mike Murphy, a friend of the Nation, who has joined the NWHL, and will be managing their online content this season.if you follow hockey,, you’ve read and/or heard his remarkable and timely insights and content on multiple platforms, And now we will get to see much of that focused on the NWHL. Fins Up to that! And a final note, be sure to check out the re-designed NWHL website if you haven’t already. Pretty great lay-out and super fan friendly. Fins Up!

Update 9/25/19: The NWHL has partnered with @ProAmbitions for Youth Development Hockey Camps. Pro Ambitions has already set up NWHL camps at the league's five home rinks. In addition, there will be game-day clinics at NWHL arenas, and an NWHL boarding camp. Fins Up to that! 🔗: buff.ly/2l6PXxE

WHALE’S TALES 9/1/19: The Edge of Glory

Happy Labor Day Weekend, Cetacean Nation! Summer is waning and as we write this we are only thirty-five days out from first puck drop in our Season Opener against the Buffalo Beauts! And prior to that, we have a preseason match against the University of Connecticut at 3:00 PM on September 28th. The game will be held at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum on 509 Jim Calhoun Way, U-3275, Storrs CT. And this chance to se the Pod is free! As to the regular season games, although they are not free, they are an awesome bargain! The Pod will play a dozen home games,as part of the expanded twenty-four game NWHL schedule.and general admission season tickets are only $210. Season ticket holders will also be garnered priority for playoff tickets, and for season renewals.

We are currently not scheduled to play at home in January, but have four games in reasonable travel distance. There are three games with the Rivsters at ProSkate in New Jersey about two hours away, and one game against the Pride Up at Warrior, about two and a half hours from Danbury. There has also been a change to our original schedule, concerning a home game against the Riveters. The game originally scheduled for February 1st, will now be played on December 1st, giving us six home games in December.

And a new season means new Whale merchandise! As the roster finalizes over the next few weeks (Bray’s Bunch currently numbers thirteen) our new signees jerseys and tees will be available, along with those of our veteran players. And in case you haven’t looked recently, there are some fintastic new items and designs to help you rep the Pod this season. And, you can still add some items from the ‘18-‘19 season, And now that the ‘19-‘20 merch collections are available, the remaining items from the ‘18-‘19 collections are being offered at a 20% discount during the Say Farewell to Summer Labor Day Sale. Check it out at NWHL.zone/shop #LDW. Fins Up to that!

And finally, as we get ready to cheer on the Whale as our amazings swim into action in Season Five, here is a question. What have Jessica Koizumi, Haley Skarupa, Grace Klienbach and Katerina Mrazova all done for the Pod that no one els has? Yep, that’s right, each of them has scored the first goal for the Whale in each of the first four seasons. And Jess’ goal was the first in NWHL history as well. The current roster once again contain #94, so let’s see if history repeats, and Grace nets the first goal for the Whale this season as well. But until the puck drops to start the season, exactly who our first goal scorer might be, remains unknown. What is known however, is that whoever puts the first biscuit in the basket will be doing so for the most exciting team in hockey, our Connecticut Whale! And it will be the first step in bringing Isobel back home to Connecticut next March. Fins Up to that!

Update 9/4/19: Bray’s Bunch grew a bit today, the Whale added three plsyers to their roster, bringing the total number of players to sixteen. it was annoubced vateran Hanna Beattie re-signed, along with CWHL veteran Erin Hall, and SLU/Plattsburgh goalie Brooke Wolojko, both who inked thiir furst NWHL contracrs, Fins Up!

Update 9/5/19: What great news this is! We already have the best broadcast teams in the business, now we have the best streaming partner! History has literally has been made! The NWHL has partnered with Twitch on an exclusive three-year streaming deal. As part of its agreement with the NWHLPA, players will receive 50 percent of all revenue from the deal. Game on! #NWHLGameOnTwitch 🔗:buff.ly/2NOv9Hi

Update 9/12/19: ‪Cetacean Nation get ready! Single game tickets for the most exciting team in hockey, our Connecticut Whale for the ‘19-‘20 season go on sale Friday 9/13/19 at 11:00 a.m. ET! All tickets can be purchased at NWHL.zone/tickets. ‬The rest of the NWHL team's tickets are on sale as well, so take a look at the road schedule and make plans to catch a couple of away games as well. Nothing like reppin’ the Pod amongst our ”frenemies” Fins Up!

Update 9/16/19: Pre-season is heeere! Camp opens tomorrow for our Pod, and it’s less than two weeks until our pre-season game with the Huskies as well. Isobel’s journey to Connecticut commences! Fins Up to that! 🔗:https://twitter.com/nwhl/status/1173582529036804096?s=21

Update 9/17/19: Some more great news Cetacean Nation! We now have a new head coach Colton Orr, who will be assisted by one of our Amazings, Laura Brennan! Fins Up to Colten and Laura and their selection, and to GM Bray Ketchum for two more great signings! 🔗: https://twitter.com/nwhl/status/1174020360754388992?s=21

 

WHALE’S TALES 8/17/19: ROOTS

Most lexicographers begin their definition of the noun root orvroots by leading with plant references. But depending on the source, other meanings more germaine to hockey and hockey players are ranked as secondary meanings. In Webster’s for example: something that is an origin or source, as of a condition, one or more progenitors of a group of descendants, an underlying support, the essential core of heart, and the part by which an object is attached to something else. All of these can be applied to hockey if you think just a little outside the box. On that note:

 

                                       THEY BUILT IT, YOU SHOULD COME

As fans of the NWHL, our roots lie in the collegiate, high school, prep school and youth programs that produce the remarkable young women that make up the rosters on our five teams. The gardeners who nurture and tend these young athletes as they grow, are the parents, coaches, administrators, teammates and even opponents, and yes, the fans,who all contribute to the finished product we sign or re-sign, into the league. Cetacean Nation has suggested in the past that we all should support these young women and girls by attending their games. We suggested it as a New Year’s resolution last winter in fact, and it was a good idea. But depending on where you live, what leagues are nearby, the hockey season gets under way well before that. As you are making your plans to attend numerous Whale games, maybe pre-plan a few visits to some local games, from Pee Wee to DI, your choice. There is probably a program nearby that you already know of. Or how about going to see some of our Whale in action as coaches. You can catch Kayla Meneghin at Saint Anselm, Sam Faber at LIU-Post, Jamie Goldsmith at The Gunnery, Sarah Hughson at Choate, Celeste Brown at Penn State, Nicole Stock at Lawrenceville, Jessica Koizumi at Vermont, Sam Walther at Nichols, and Molly Engstrom at St. Cloud State, to name a few. Check the website of your local school or organization, and see who’s coaching near you. And just think how cool it will feel when someday that young women or little Future Draft Pick signs her first pro contract. And you, in some small way, helped her on her quest. Fins Up to that, no?

 

                                                   BROUGHT TO YOU BY….

This past week, our NWHL picked up a terrific new sponsor in Chipwich, which is now being billed as “The Official Ice Cream Sandwich” of the NWHL. And for the second year in a row, the amazing folks at VEDA have teamed up with the league as well. You can find more information on both of these partners of the league, as well as sponsors of individual Whale in the NWHL Sponsors section of this website. Stop by and take a look. As always, we urge everyone to support those who support the NWHL!

 

                                             BRAY’S BURGEONING BUNCH

Our General Manager Bray Ketchum has assembled an exciting blend of veteran and first year players for the upcoming season. As of this posting, she has signed eleven players: six defenders, four forwards, and one goaltender. Nearly half of the squad is on the roster, and more signings should follow relatively quickly. Action begins in seven weeks, and season tickets should be available shortly. Can you feel it?

 

Update 8/19/19:  And no sooner did we use the word burgeoning, than it happened again! welcome back to our #9 two-way winger Kaycie Anderson! It is Katcie’s third contract with the Whale,  and GM Bray Ketchum’s twelth addition to Bray’s Bunch.

Update 8/20/19: Cetacean Nation offers congratulations to our OW #78, goalie & soon-to-be Dr. Chelsea Laden, on becoming a TV star! Destination Fear premieres on the Travel Channel just before Halloween too! Finds Up to that, & we are curious what could possibly frighten an NWHL goaltender! Fins Up Forever Chelsea!

WHALE’S TALES 7/31/19: Silver Linings Playbook

There are few straight line stories or timelines in women’s hockey. There never have been. A state of flux exists still, exacerbated undoubtedly by the lingering uncertainties regarding some aspects of our sport. But what is not now in flux or shrouded in mystery is the 2019-2020 NWHL schedule. The expanded twenty-four plus game path is laid out before us. The arenas have been confirmed, and three teams have relocated. But our Whale are still the Connecticut Whale, the Beauts are still in upstate New York, and the Riveters are still in New Jersey. The rosters are still being put together, but as has happened in the past, signings could come in flurries. The updates at the bottom of this post will probably bear that out.

Around this time last year, we pondered the possible phenomena of a “Once and Future Whale”. And, that the likehood of such a thing would increase with passing seasons. It occurred as we know, last year with Laura Brennan, Shenae Lundberg, and Jessica Koizumi. And this year it has begun already, with the signing last month of Grace Klienbach, and she may will not be the only one. So in addition to the veterans who have and who still will return, perhaps former Whale like our #94, and the recent college graduates, our GM Bray Ketchum will continue to build us a compelling, exciting, and yes, a winning team. Bray’s Bunch, the most exciting team in hockey again.

It still strikes us as remarkably significant that this past year’s group of graduates were the first to have the NWHL in existence during their entire collegiate career. Some already joined NWHL teams after their college seasons ended last winter, including our Tess Adams and Erin O’Neil. And every collegiate player, and high school senior, knows the league is out there. And in college or even before, students are starting to figure out their place in the world, or at least the workforce. And when an opportunity to play pro hockey is on the table, you best believe it factors into the equation. They have to see it, to be it. That is why this NWHL season, played out over a glorious twenty-four game plus season, will be the most important season of all.

Cetacean Nation will miss Barnabas Health Hockey House. It was a pretty convenient venue to get to to expand our attendance at Whale games. And it still will be, if maybe for a different contingent of Whale fans. The ProSkate facility in Monmouth Junction is only about an hour from New York. So Whale fans from Connecticut and north and west of the city are not precluded from making a road trip or two. And the Philadelphia Chapter of Cetacean Nation lies about an hour in the other direction. No excuse not to represent the green, white and blue at ProSkate! And as a side note, we have always thought Philadelphia would be a great landing spot for a future NWHL franchise. And we are not alone in that opinion. Our #13 Cassie Dunne said “Philly fans are passionate and I think that a team in Philadelphia would definitely take off!”. And our #94 Grace Klienbach added “I think Philly would be a great location for an expansion team. Philadelphia sports fans are proud and loyal. I think they would really take the team and run with it.”

On the other side of the coin, Danbury is a bit more of a drive for the portion of Cetacean Nation that comes from New York and south. But, it is almost an hour closer to Boston, so the Beantown Chapter of Cetacean Nation can get to the rink a little easier. And as always, we’d welcome our frenemies, the Boston Pride fans and certainly show them “Podspitality.” And although we are still two months out from the opener with the Beauts we will make a prediction. Cetacean Nation, you are going to have a heck of a lot of fun this season. And that sports fans, is what it’s all about. Fins Up!

 

Update 8/1/19: GM Bray Ketchum announced the signing of speedy forward Emma Vlasic from Yale. 🔗buff.ly/316igeZ

Update 8/6/19: We’re getting the gang together! Today our amazing rookie from last season, #3 Kayla Meneghin, re-signed with the Pod. 🔗buff.ly/2YoVaDw

Update 8/7/19: Our #24 Foundation Award Winner Sarah Hughson has re-upped with the Whale, becoming the sixth forward to join Bray’s Bunch 🔗📝 buff.ly/2YQEznp

Update 8/12/19: The NWHL has a great new sponsor, Chipwich! Find out more about the ice cream sandwich shaped like a hockey puck, by checking out oue Sponsor Page on this site. Fins up! Update 8/13/19: More great signing news for Cetacean Nation! We have a new goaltender, our first to join Bray’s Bunch, Cassandra Goyette, out of Nichols College!  Fins Up!

WHALE’S TALES 7/5/19: A Voice in the Crowd

As we write this, we are in the middle of the Fourth of July weekend. The first preseason game, vs UConn on 9/28 was just announced today. And as the season grows ever closer, anticipation of what the 2019-2020 edition of our Whale will look like grows proportionately. It was this weekend last year that the Pod made it’s first couple of signings, but this year our new GM Bray Ketchum has us ahead of the curve. With six players in the fold as this is written, a quarter of the team has been set. It’s a talented group, with veteran defenders Shannon Doyle, Taylor Marchin, Elena Orlando and Jordan Brickner all returning, joined by rookie forwards Kendra Broad, returning from her early career in Europe, and Jane Morrisette joining out of college. We are all waiting with great anticipation and excitement for the next additions to Bray’s Bunch. As we have mentioned, turnover is inevitable on NWHL rosters, for a number of reasons. Since the end of the 2017-2018 season, we find some twenty members of the Pod, are no longer active with us. The coming weeks will reveal a mixing of the old and the new, as it always does. And we are always ready to welcome a Once and Future Whale!

In the last edition of Whale’s Tales, we presented some thoughts from fans whose lives have been touched by our players, the Whale, and the NWHL. As we mentioned, our players truly appreciate the love and support of their fans. And they have given us a lot to love and be appreciative, in their actions both on and off the ice. We have more great thoughts from another of our loyal fans in this addition. And we think you will like what she has to say. Here’s what @sabrinsesch told Cetacean Nation about what the Whale mean to her and her daughter, with a special shout-out that we loved

People. To me the NWHL and The Connecticut Whale are all about people. The NWHL and the Connecticut Whale were founded at the perfect time. My daughter (honorary captain in the photo beelow) had just started playing hockey and the Connecticut Whale appeared right under our nose! We were able to attend the first Whale game and from that moment forward our love for Women’s Hockey and the Connecticut Whale have only grown. We have been fortunate to not only watch the Whale play at several venues, but also have had the honor of getting to know many of the players on the Whale and several other goalies from the league (my daughter is a goalie). Every player, no matter what team or venue or outcome of the game, has been nothing but friendly and professional in every sense of the word. They respect their fans and take a keen interest in the young women who come to see them.”

Sabrina continued ”The players are never in a rush to leave and always seem to be aware of the incredible opportunity and responsibility that they have being Professional Women’s Hockey Players and part of the NWHL. The majority of the Whale players and staff know my daughter by name and without fail make her feel to be part of the family every time we see them play. There is one person in the NWHL who has made a particularly impact on and will always be special to my daughter and that is Laura Brennan. Laura exemplifies the best the NWHL has to offer. She is not only a fine goalie and coach but also an excellent role model for female hockey players everywhere. She finds the good in every situation and in every person whether they be a player, coach, fan or student. She is one of the most genuine people I have had the pleasure to meet and is an asset to the league. I wish the NWHL and The Connecticut Whale years of continued success”

We wholeheartedly agree with those sentiments, especially the sincere admiration for our #33 Laura Brennan. Fins Up to Sabrina for sharing her thoughts, and Fins Up to our amazing Laura as well. We will continue to share these expressions of support and love from our fans on the other side of the glass periodically in future Whale Tale’s.

 

WHALE’S TALES 6/4/19: The Other Side of the Glass

Being a fan of the Connecticut Whale and the NWHL is a special experience. It is certainly not unusual for fans to love the sport(s) they follow. But few fan bases are more passionate than the fans of the NWHL. And yet even within that ardent assemblage, the fans that comprise Cetacean Nation, the fans of the Connecticut Whale, are simply over the moon about the Pod. The players are unwavering in their appreciation of this, as you have probably experienced in person, or read in their own words. So we thought it a good time to get some insight into what exactly the NWHL and the Connecticut Whale mean to their fans. So, we asked them. We received some heartfelt responses, which we will share here in Whale’s Tales. Here then are the first couple of responses from our amazings in the stands! Here are some thoughts from Ashley @NYR_2014, who stated:

“I’ve been following the NWHL since day one. When I was deciding what team to root for, I told myself anyone but Boston (I followed the Blades in the CWHL). Right before the season started I decided on the Connecticut Whale. Mostly because I thought their logo was cute! Fast forward four years later: Women’s Hockey basically consumes my entire life, well, my spare time anyway. The Connecticut Whale and the NWHL hold a very special place in my heart. I have a large scrapbook to prove it. I’m so unbelievably grateful to have met my favorite players over the last four seasons. Before the NWHL I didn’t know who they were. Specifically from the Pod: Chelsea Laden, Anya Battaglino, Sam Faber, and Shannon Doyle. Getting to meet each of them was nothing short of amazing and I will forever love and appreciate them. Season 5 can’t come soon enough. I was already a fan of Bray Ketchum, the 2018 Isobel Cup Champion, but I’m an even bigger fan of Bray Ketchum the General Manager. I can’t wait to see the rosterBray puts together for 2019-20, if history tells us anything, it’s Connecticut’s year. Let’s bring Isobel home where she belongs! Go Whale!”

And Jennifer @nhljennifer, offered us these comments to share:

“The NWHL has done more for me than I could have ever imagined. When I went to my first game, New York Riveters vs. Buffalo Beauts at Aviator Sports and Events Center on Valentine’s Day back in 2016, I immediately felt like there was a place for me in this community. Every single player I’ve met has been extremely appreciative to their fans and to the league itself for giving them the opportunity to play. I’ve developed unique relationships with more players than I can count, and it means everything to me. To see the same faces every week and have them recognize me and thank me for all that I do (when I feel like I should be thanking them, honestly) is such a surreal experience. Before I knew it, the Metropolitan Riveters became my home. With every hug from Miye D’oench, every compliment from Kim Sass, every selfie from Harrison Browne and every quick laugh with Alexa Gruschow, I felt more and more like I had a place somewhere. The NWHL started to mean even more to me when I began travelling to Connecticut for Whale games. The team does seem like a group of underdogs; they’re the only team out of the “founding four” and the current five teams not to win a championship and they don’t always have the best of luck with winning. However, the closer you get to the team, the more you see how much heart they have.

“My friendship with Sophia Agostinelli is something I’ll treasure forever; she makes every single person she interacts with feel special and gives her all to everything she does. And since this is a website for Whale fans, I know I don’t have to tell you all how amazing Anya Battaglino is. I quite literally consider her and Madison Packer my “hockey parents”, and it’s nice to have them as two familiar faces whether I’m in Newark or Stamford. As the years have gone on, there has been a myriad of obstacles for these players and many more, from pay cuts, to failing partnerships, and, now, to 200+ players vowing not to play in any North American league this year. What has amazed me about the NWHL since its conception is how positive every single player has managed to stay. Although they have different ways of going about it, I firmly believe that every single one of these players is doing what they believe is right and best for the state of women’s hockey in North America right now. This league has become a place where I feel at home, and it’s not the buildings that made me feel like that; it’s the players. So, in a time where many women’s hockey fans feel conflicted or like they have to pick a side, I hope that my mushy ramble about how much this sport means to me helps you realize that you don’t have to do either of those things. Everyone has the same common goal when it comes to this; to preserve and further the amazing impact that this sport has had on its fans (like me, hi!). I’m hoping my story can help the community focus on that, because when all is said and done, growing the game is what this is all about.”

Fins Up to these two charter members of Cetacean Nation for sharing their thoughtful comments and feellings about the Pod!

 

WHALE’S TALES 5/26/19: SEE WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS

Turnovers are generally bad in hockey, good on a brunch menu and inevitable on NWHL rosters. If you are like us, you have shirseys and jerseys hanging on your closet of Whale who do not play here any longer. We do not love them any less, just from further away. Last offseason, we learned Amanda Boulier, Sydney Rossman, Kelly Babstock, Emma Greco, Anya Battaglino Sam Faber, Paige Savage, Stephanie Mock, Meghan Huertas, Keira Goin Sophia AgostinellI, Grace Klienbach & Cassie Dunne would not be on our roster for the 2018-2019 season, And during last season, Sam Walther, Sam Donovan, Erin Brand, Randi Griffin, Mariya Sorokina and even Meeri Raisanen at some point left the roster. The reasons for these departures were legion. Just as they have been every season. Hard choices are made in sports every day. Hidecki Matsui was a World Series MVP for the Yankees and was gone before the next spring training.

And this year will be no different. We already know that some of our Pod will be back, some won’t. As Aristotle once postulated, nature abhors a vacuum..Rosters will fill. At present, we have learned that our OW #6 Shannon Doyle has signed again with the Whale. We have also  learned that #92 Katka Mrazova has left and will play professionally on Sweden. More of those who return, and who will not, will follow. And in the end, we will have a blend of the old and the new. As we have had, to one degree or another every year. So over the next few months, we will have to bid an unwanted farewell to some more of our Whale, but also welcome new sets of fins into the Pod.

And over the past four seasons, Cetacean Nation has come to realize a singular fact about our Whale. And it is this: The culture of the Whale is unique, and what the players here are doing for the sport of hockey is something special, and historic. No Whale will ever doubt how much the fans of Cetacean Nation appreciate their efforts both on and off the ice. That is true regardless of whose sweater they may be wearing (or not) at some other point in time. Even very soon. Every Whale player who has taken the ice over the past four seasons, and in the future, will always be a Whale. You might take a player out of the Pod, but you’ll never take the Whale out of the player. Or keep the players, those we know and those we will come to know, out of our hearts. Fins Up to that! 

Update 5/30/19: The NWHL relaeased a statement which clearly laid out and reiterated their plans and commitment to their players & fans going into the 2019-20 season and beyond. And it is a good plan! Please check it out! "We'll Always Do What's Best for the Game": A message from the NWHL: buff.ly/2YQOJoC

Update 6/3/19: Signing News! Our  #4, defender Taylor Marchin has re-signed with the Pod, and is back for a second season! Read the happy news and some statements from Taylor in the NWHL story here: 📝 buff.ly/2Ko1Auz

WHALE’S TALES 5/11/19: FINS UP TO OUR WHALE

Cetacean Nation by our own definition is a supporter not only of the Whale but of the NWHL. “We love our Pod and the amazing league they play in, the National Women’s Hockey League” It says that right in our introduction. So, although we support the goals of the #ForTheGame movement, we do not support it’s means. The planned boycott, in our opinion, is not the way to achieve the goals and future that the movement seeks. We believe players who choose to play this season, will be doing so for the future of the game, as they always have. Their slogan, “It’s why we do what we do,” continues to be the rallying cry of the NWHL players.

The Whale are a team of remarkable players, past and present, and surely in the future. Women who would be great role models for our little Future Draft Picks, even if they never laced up a pair of skates. But each year they do lace up the skates and pull on the pads and pick up sticks and gloves and do remarkable things. And they will again this year. And they have earned the affection, respect and support of their fan base. A fan base called Cetacean Nation.

One of the mottos you’ve read here is that “once a Whale, always a Whale.* The Whale songs of all who have worn the sweater of our Pod, will be sung on our platforms. No one here will ignore or forget what each of those players have done for the sport of women’s hockey, and hockey in general. The expected boycott does not have to be seen as a chasm, just a divergence of paths that can, and we are sure will, reconnect. Maybe sooner than later. We have seen the first of the Once and Future Whale this past season, and we think they won’t be the last.

Right now the Whale are a women’s hockey team, with a couple of former female player/coaches, a former female player as General Manager, all in a league founded and run by a women. Women who in fact, were players themselves. So that while we hope that the goals of the #ForTheGame are realized, we think that can and will be accomplished through the NWHL. Fins Up, forever!

 

Statements from NWHL:

www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/1017797

www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/1019423 

Update 5/20/19: With the Free Agenct Signing Period less than a week old, one of our favorite frenemies Madison Packer (Riveters) and former Whale Kaleigh Fratkin, {Pride) have re-signed with their NWHL squads!

Update 5/22/19: Our amazing #6, OW defender Shannon Doyle is the first member of the Pod to re-sign for the ’19-‘20 season! More on Shannon’s signing here: https://www.nwhl.zone/news_article/show/1022986

 

WHALE’S TALES 5/1/19: LAYING A COURSE

Cetacean Nation has now been sailing upon the waters of women’s hockey for a full year now. And as of today over 29,000 different people have stopped by to check out our Pod, as presented in the player’s own words in their stories. All of these players are part of a unique group that has worn the Whale sweater over the first four seasons, as part of an equally unique and historic league. The NWHL set sail on uncharted waters, secure only in the certainty of the remarkable crew that signed aboard for the voyage. After having learned more about these women through their fascinating journeys, we too are secure in the certainty of their remarkable destination.

It has been a changing seascape to be sure, for the NWHL and women’s hockey in general. There have dealt, with varying degrees of success, with some rough patches that have taken some down. But the players, who are the soul of the ships of this sport, have stayed true to their course. They play not just for themselves, but for those who will come after, into what they are helping to be both a better sport and a better world.

Today’s players will look back at what this league will become over the coming decades and smile. We owe a debt of gratitude to these athletes, who one day in the future, will reflect upon their sport and say “ Yeah, we really did that”. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

Insert the word women instead of man, and this is pretty much what is happening right before our eyes in the NWHL. The bitterness and disappointment of the fans and players who have been a part of the CWHL will heal. The worst case scenarios are still followed by a morning after. The likelihood of one league seems to be almost beyond a certainty when play opens in the fall. There is a lot still to be done over the next few months, but just like the filling out of the rosters each season, it will get done. And one of the most exciting news stories concerning the NWHL is the re-institution of team GM’s. Kate Whitman Annis will hold that post for the Riveters, and our Whale welcome the amazing Bray Ketchum to the food as our General Manager!

Free Agency is almost upon us. And there looks to be enough drama and plot twists to give Game of Thrones a run for it’s money. 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 (read: ALL of them). But we also realize there are many different forces at work here, in both the players decision and the decisions of each team. And, 50 or 60 player rosters aren’t a thing. 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 our slogan. It is the soul of the culture of the Pod. We never forget, because to Whale fans, every last one of our Pod, is simply unforgettable.

As a side note, the recent news from our sisters on the hardwood should be seen as both an overdue reckoning, and as a portent of things to come. The NWHL was founded with the benefit of the knowledge that another women’s sports league, the WNBA, was flourishing and growing. And we learned from both their successes and mistakes. And now with the deal struck between the WNBA and CBS to televise forty games this summer, things continue to head in the right direction. With the growth of women’s hockey both here and abroad, the day will come when TV coverage is a potent force that expands the league fan base, and there we go. You may recall that in her interview with us, our former goalie #69 Mariya Sorokina told us that the KHL, the Russian men’s pro league actually broadcasts the professional women’s games. Maybe someday the NHL Network might carry NWHL games as well.

Even so, the gender pay gap in both sports is enormous, and although WNBA Stars can make ten times their salary by playing a second season overseas, there is a cost. Arguably the best female player in the world, Seattle’s Breanna Stewart, went down with an Achilles’ tendon tear while playing for her Russian squad. Maybe at some point down the line, someone will blink, and two non-conflicting hockey seasons could be established. Far from a perfect solution, but the women have to be paid full time salaries, and that opportunity would be a start. Fins Up Cetacean Nation, your passion for our Whale is both unprecedented and unwavering in its constancy.

5/2/19: Today approximately 200 mostly CWHL players announced their intentions to boycott any professional hockey league until a sustInable league can be created. There are also some three or four dozen NWHL pLayers or draft picks, including some Whale, on the list at this point. The NWHL has responded that plans as formulated for next season, expansion to Montreal and Toronto, and a 50% increase in the schedule and increased player compensation, remain in place. The NWHLPA, thtrough a statement by our former #4 Anya Battaglino, do not support the movement, and think it’s the wrong move. Even more to follow this summer than we thought a few days ago. Fins Up and Chins Up!

WHALE’S TALES 3/23/19: SOMETHING ABOUT SCIENCE AND ART

 

The offseason is officially here, the third in the four year history of our Whale and the NWHL. It is a time of speculation, review, and predictions, same as any pro league. But in the waters of the NWHL where the Whale swim, it’s complicated. Dr William Osler, founder of the medical school at Johns Hopkins, and widely considered to be the founder of modern medicine, once said this about his profession. He said “Medicine is the science of uncertainty, and the art of probability.” Perhaps the same can be said about developing the amazing sport of women’s hockey. A few weeks ago Kristina Rutherford wrote a thought provoking article about the state of women’s hockey,. If you haven’t read it, you should.

You can find it here: https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/inside-cwhl-nwhl-mess-big-read/.

Another view of the state of women’s hockey that is worth your time, was written for ESPN by Emily Kaplan. It features features input from our former #4 Anya Battaglino , Director of the NWHLPA..

Take a look at that here: http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/26237756/one-league-faq-nwhl-cwhl-players-want-nhl-awaits

You may agree or disagree with some or all of the content of these articles, but what you cannot ignore one fact. The world of professional hockey in 2019, which obviously includes our league and our Whale, is an extremely complicated, multi dimensional and evolving matrix. And this is seen nowhere more clearly, than in the year to year construction from scratch, of our roster. Any of the scenarios laid out in these articles will impact the way the upcoming Free Agency Period plays out, and our team takes form in preparation for the 2019-2020 season. And if you think about it, so will just maintaining the status quo.

Over the next few months, we will hear announcements, rumors, suggestions, hopes and fears leading up to Free Agency. And as we did last offseason, and even in season, we may have to bid an unwanted farewell to some of our Whale, and welcome new sets of fins into the Pod. The science of uncertainty, and the art of probability. But over the past four seasons, Cetacean Nation has come to realize a singular fact about our Whale. The culture of the Whale is unique, and what they are doing for the sport of hockey is something special, and historic.

No Whale will ever doubt how much the fans of Cetacean Nation appreciate their efforts, regardless of whose sweater they may be wearing at some other point in time. I think every Whale player who has taken the ice over the past four seasons, and in the future, knows this fact beyond a certainty: will always be a Whale. Once a Whale, always a Whale, we will try to keep you abreast of things as they develop.

Also, Cetacean Nation has added an Instagram page to it’s social media Pod. You can find us on Instagram at cetacean_nation_ hockey, as well as on Facebook: Cetacean Nation Hockey and of course Twitter: @nation_cetacean. Fins Up to mote ways to spread the Word of the Whale.

WHALE’S TALES 3/14/19: TURN THE PAGE

Turn The Page Our Whale have now completed their fourth season of play in the NWHL And although we finished at the bottom of the short list that makes up the standings, we also finished as the most exciting team in hockey. We are a team with awesome All Stars, players who have been there since season one, savvy veterans, reliable rookies, International Stars, and Once and Future Whale. In a league as new and evolving as the NWHL, there is a great connection between the then and now. But also to the future. Each season has sprung from the efforts of those who skated for the Whale in previous campaigns, interacted with the fans and community, and nurtured our little Future Draft Picks. Cetacean Nation was hoping to witness a growth in the fan base for the Pod, and that has occurred, and will continue on an upward arc.

But something else has started to to grow too, and it is what sets the Connecticut Whale apart. All teams have a culture, and a certain atmosphere around them, and that has been developing each season for the Whale. It means something different to be a New York Yankee or a Montreal Canadian, not just because of their success, but because of their culture. The Dallas Cowboys have a unique culture, decades after their biggest successes, and the Patriots culture will be palpable if/when they come back to the pack. There is a Celtic way of doing things, a Manchester United way,a Norte Dame way, and the Original Six are still the NHL's top markets. It means something different to play for and root for or against these teams. Sports are a huge part of modern culture and squads with unique, palpable cultures are huge part of sports.

So as the Isobel Playoffs conclude, and we move from post season to off season, cherish our budding culture. There will be the inevitable re-shuffling of rosters that is part and parcel of the NWHL at this point, talk of expansion, mergers, sponsorships and more as the weeks, then months go by. But when you have a developing culture, as the Whale do, you do not close the book on any one season. You merely turn the page, and gaze at the narrative of our Pod being played out there in the lines right before your eyes. And Cetacean Nation is pretty sure that the next chapter in the book will be “The Season of the Whale”. Fins Up!

3/19/19: Terrific news for our blue chip rookie #24 Sarah Hughson who was named a recipient of the prestigious NWHL Foundation Award honoring “those most actively applying the core values of hockey to her community, as well as growing the game and improving hockey culture.” After winning her Foundation Award, Sarah told us “I am so honored to even be a part of a league that supports girls hockey as much as the NWHL does, and to be able to rep the Whale for this is just surreal”

3/20/19: All of Cetacean Nation is delighted for, & proud of, our #92 Katerina Mrazove who was selected by the fans as one of their three Star of the Season. Katka told us “It is a great honor... I didn’t expect that at all...”

WHALE’S TALES 3/1/19: A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Starting tomorrow, the NWHL kicks off an amazing final slate for the last regular season weekend. All four games on the schedule have playoff implications, and when the final horns sound, we should know who is going where and why as the chase for the Isobel Trophy begins. The Whitecaps, Beauts and Pride have all clinched semi-final berths but are vying for seeding and home ice in their games. Since we play Buffalo and Minnesota, we will have a hand in that outcome as well. But our immediate concern is securing a home ice playoff game for ourselves, which would be the first since March 6th, 2016, when we called Chelsea Piers home. That is why this weekend is a Tale Of Two Cities for the Whale. We will play the Riveters in the first round of the playoffs, that much is known. Stamford and Newark are the two cities in this Whale’s Tale. But where we play them is TBD, hence the importance of this weekend's match-ups.

 

We enter play tied with the Riveters In points with six. The Rivs have three wins, we have two, and we have earned points in two overtime losses. We have the edge in head to head play. But the only way to be certain of clinching home ice advantage, is to win. Even though we have won on the road at Barnabas this year and in our not so much a “home game” against the Rivs in Pirrsburgh, there are a lot of reasons to want to play that game in Connecticut, at Terry Conners Rink. And the Pod, and surely the Riveters as well, want the game at home as much as the fans of both teams do. A tale of two cities which will have it’s first chapter written this weekend, and it’s final chapter in the play-offs. And our road to the Isobel Cup has to pass through a least one of the two teams we face this weekend. So in addition to fighting for home ice advantage, the Pod will be seeking to send a simple message to the Whitecaps, Beauts and Pride. That message is that we’ll see you again real soon, albeit in your barn, so you best be ready!

And to fine tune the Pod for the playoff push, some significant moves were made last week. Jessica Koizumi, the woman who scored the first goal in NWHL history while skating for the Pod, rejoined the Whale last weekend, becoming our third Once and Future Whale. Jess had a strong game and was credited with three shots on goal, although we thought it might have been more like five. Jessica still has coaching commitments with the University of Vermont, so the longer we play, the more likely we are to see more of Jess. Shenae Lundherg, our second Once and Future Whale, was signed to a full contract also. So along with our first Once and Future Whale, Laura Brennan, and the signing of former Boston University netminder Erin O’Neil, we have re-fortified our goalie position. Our other two signings, Vanessa Gagnon former Quinnipiac center, and Tess Adams, a high scoring forward who just completed her senior season at Suffolk, give us some additional depth, line options and three zone play that our Whale are noted for. It will be very interesting to see what line-ups Coach Equale will utilize this weekend, as we open the book on our tale of two cities.

 

There are a.couple of more time sensitive items we’ll mention here and on social media. A combo ticket for this weekend two games at Terry Conners Rink are available for the discounted price of $30.00. And the fan voting for the three Stars of the Season is now open, and will remain so until March 6th. Our Whale have always been well supported in the fan voting for this award, and previous winners from the Pod were Sophia Agistinelli and Anya Battaglino. Your ballots to vote and tickets for this weekends action are available at www.nwhl.zone. Fins Up! a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I'm a great place for you to tell your story and let your visitors know a little more about you.

WHALE’S TALES 2/13/19: PUCK LUCK PARADIGM

Our amazing Czech star Katka Mrazova said recently “ Stats are like bikinis: they show a lot, but not everything”. Amusing thought, but actually very pertinent to our Whale’s season to date, and the individual players performances as well. The NWHL is a professional sports league, and the players are paid to win. So yes, there is the won-lost record to consider. But consider this as well: The Whale are the most exciting team in hockey! You do not need a stat sheet to see that, you just have to watch. And if you have been watching, you’ve seen not only exciting hockey, but something called puck luck. And not very much of it has slid towards our Whale’s end of the rink.

 

If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with the term puck luck, and understand how it applies to our Pod. If not, a generic enough definition of the idiom would be along the lines of those factors which influence the outcome of a hockey game that do not involve the strategy and skill of the players. For example: deflections, bounces, ice conditions, losing an edge, dead or lively spots on the boards, pretty much anything unplanned or unintentional that effects the outcome of a game. There is a lot of it in hockey, and it usually evens out over time. But, there are times such as now, that it can be vexing. So, while you are watching the 2018-2019 edition of the Whale, entertaining, exciting and talented, you are not seeing much Pod Puck Luck. We are not jinxed, cursed or under a spell, but have thus far encountered a disproportionate amount of negative randomness. Bad puck luck.

 

Cetacean Nation knows that one of the ways that sports mirror life is this: you can do sometimes do everything right, and still lose. The most graphic example is the saga of one Harvey Haddix, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sixty years ago this coming May, he pitched a perfect game against a Braves team with HOFers Aaron and Matthews in the line-up. A 12 inning perfect game. He lost the game by finally yielding a run the following inning. A form of puck luck exists in baseball, but it did not sit in the Pirate’s dugout next to Mr. Haddix that night.

 

It has kind of felt that way for the Whale this year. They have proved they can skate with anyone, but puck luck has not been the seventh player on the ice. At least not so far. And that is important to note, especially as the play-offs grow closer. Puck luck is random and fickle, and can change sweaters faster than Kendall Coyne can circle a rink. The most exciting team in hockey may have a more level ice to play on as they pursue the Isobel Cup. All things then being equal, we love our Whale’s chances! Or to paraphrase Dr. Malcolm’s Chaos Theory explanation in Jurassic Park: we think “Whale finds a way”. Fins Up to that!

 

In only its fourth season, our fledgling but fantastic NWHL is still a child in terms of a professional sports league. And, like a human child, it is a developing work in progress. A kid under construction, if you will. In its infancy, in year one, we were amazed, delighted and overjoyed by the simple existence of it, the reckoning had begun. Then came the “terrible twos”, familiar enough to any parent, and the NWHL certainly has some drama to overcome in season two. It did so, coming out a little bloodied but unbowed, only to have a slew of stars depart to pursue Olympic glory, which they did. But as a three year old, something else amazing happened. Despite the departure of legendary Olympians, we found a league that was brimming over with talent. More than could be contained in just the Founding Four franchises, so we had our first expansion.

 

And as play continues in our fourth season, the talent pool gets deeper, more growth seems imminent, and the NWHL has taken on a very unique, individual, and interactive personality. Not unlike a four year old child. And no where was this evolution more spectacularly on display than last weekend in Nashville. With a record crowd for a professional women’s hockey game in the US, and (based upon consultation with a data scientist we know,) probably one million online viewers, a lot more people know what we already did. The NWHL has arrived, and is taking its place on the world stage of sport and culture. And our Whale, with exciting Future Draft Picks, Once and Future Whale, an International Pod, amazing rookies and iconic veterans, is right in the thick of things. Just like every time they take to the ice.

OUR ALL STARS MICHELLE, SHANNON, EMILY & KATERINA!

WHALE’S TALES 2/4/19: A ONCE AND FUTURE WHALE

Author T.H. White (The Sorcerer’s Stone) also wrote a book “The Once and Future King”, the first of his Arthurian tales, coining that phrase. Cetacean Nation modified the moniker to “A Once and Future Whale”. It is the manifestation of our hope and belief that some Whale who have swam on to different waters, may one day return to their original Pod. Our reasoning was based on several observations. As the league expands, the NWHL will add on more teams, and more players. Statistically this wil make movement to and and hopefully back, from any given team more likely. And there is also the statistical turnover rate, which will always be a factor due not only to ability, but to the reality of balancing dual careers. This will remain so until players can rely on their hockey earnings alone to keep the lights on. And, the large majority of women who have played in the league are still in their prime playing days, and many remain in the sport in some capacity. So there is a “pool” of available talent available if and when something goes wrong.

 

In the case of our Whale, what went “wrong” was that a stacked house of goaltending talent suddenly became depleted. Mariya Sorokina was dealt to the Riveters, Sam Walther left the team because of other career priorities, and our All Star Meeri Raisanen suffered an injury (we do expect her back shortly). So who do you call? Well, not Ghostbusters, as it turns out! You actualize the “Once and Future Whale”, which is exactly what the Pod did.

 

Fortunately, the amazing and versatile #33 Laura Brennan had never really gone anywhere. From game one this season, Laura was behind the bench in a coaching capacity, and more. So it was a pleasant, but not unexpected event, when Laura pulled on the sweater again and was skating around as Meeri’s backup during warm-ups on January 13. And when Meeri went down with a calf injury out in Minnesota against the Whitecaps, it was Laura back between the pipes again, a “Once and Future Whale”. But with Meeri hurt, Laura was the only other goalie left on the roster after Sam’s departure. So the Pod turned to our second “Once and Future Whale”, and brought back goaltender Shenae Lundberg, who wore #1 for the team in seasons one and two. And last Saturday against the Boston Pride, wearing #31, Shenae not only got the start, but played an exceptional game. She made acrobatic stops against some of the best snipers in the league, and was locked on to the puck and tracking every shot all night. No official word yet, but it seems likely that based on her performance, Shenae will remain with the team for the duration. We certainly hope so! And the next time your favorite Whale departs, forwhatever reason, take heart. She just may be the next “Once and Future Whale”. Fins Up!

 

Update 2/11/19: Great weekend of hockey at the 4th NWHL All Star Game on the 9th & 10th. Record crowd, and terrific performances by our four All Stars: Shannon Doyle, Emily Fluke, Michelle Lowenhielm and Katka Mrázová. Fins Up all around!

WHALE’S TALES 1/22/19: THIS IS US

We are three quarters of the way through the 2018-2019 NWHL season. With so many new players on the rosters most years, how quickly chemistry and team personality develop are important factors. But eventually, each team reveals itself, in this fascinating league where the Isobel Cup Champion one year can be fighting for home ice in the play-in game the next. Our Whale have answered their identity question in their relentless, three zone, non-stop, whirlwind style of play. This is us: the most exciting team in hockey.

 

Our Whale have four more games remaining, with home & home vs the Pride last game before and first game after the All-Star Game (which will feature five of our Pod) and a final weekend doubleheader against the Beauts and the Whitecaps to close the regular season the first week in March. All of the games are critical to our positioning for the play-offs, and we have the opportunity to host a first round Isobel Cup game at Terry Conners Rink. A chance to be proud, loud and a crowd! Three seasons of NWHL playoffs and three different Isobel Cup Champions. The only two teams that have not won it yet are our Whale and the talented newbies from Minnesota. That last game of the regular season could be a preview of the Isobel Cup final.

 

There have been some roster changes and tweaks as the season has prgressed, and the Whale have developed their exciting style of play. We added two experienced blueliners, #4 Taylor Marchin and #8 Colleen Murphy and their offensive skills have melded well into the attacking style our defenders play, and the aggressive transitions out of our own end. And we have activated our #33 Laura Brennan, from behind the bench, and she has already played significant minutes out in Minnesota. This has helped to offset and balance out the squad in light of our having dealt goalie #69 Mariya Sorokina, and having “lost” #21 Sydney Roesler from the blueline to our coaching staff for most of the season (she is still on the roster though)

 

Also, the difficult life choices and the realities of gainful employment have factored in, and forward Randi Griffin #37 was unable to join the team as planned, and young veteran #32 Samantha Donovan’s season was shortened for the same reasons. And, our All-Star goaltender #18 Meeri Raisanen suffered lower body injury (calf reportedly) and her status going forward is uncertain. This, is also us. The Whale have two weeks to see how Meeri Raisanen’s injury heals before they play again, and both #70 Sam Walther, and as mentioned, #33 Laura Brennan have logged minutes on the ice this season. Every coach will tell you that they put a lineup out on the ice that gives them their best chance to win, But every coach will also tell you that lineup is not the only one that can win, just the one that gives the best chance.

 

So in preparing for the stretch run to the playoffs,our Pod could potentially make a signing at any position, as we have roster space available. And intestingly, we have future considerations owed by the Riveters from the Mariya Sorokina trade.Will that be explored? So there may be a liitle tweak to the roster or lineup as the playoffs come near. In any case our Pod will take the ice for the duration, as the most exciting team in hockey because: This is us.

 

UPDATE 1/28: Our #70 Samantha Walther has left the Whale to concentrate on her other career commitments.

 

UPDATE 2/2: The Whale announced today that they have signed OW goalie #1 Shenae Lundberg to a PTO. Shenae had played with the Pod in seasons one & two, and has therefore now become a “Once & Future Whale”! The team also finalized and formalized the paperwork for our #8 Colleen Murphy, who will stay with the team for the duration, as planned.

WHALE’S TALES 1/1/19: THE NEW ICE AGE

Our Whale are moving into the second half of their fourth season in the New Ice Age. The Age of Professional Women’s Hockey, as conceived and presented and nurtured by by Dani Rylan as the NWHL. And just as geological ice ages change the landscape of our planet, the New Ice Age of Hockey is changing the landscape of the sport we love. The rise of women’s hockey has begun to flow like a glacier, slowly but inexorably, unstoppable, inevitable, a reckoning both of nature and society. Ice ages do not come and go, they are multi millennium events. Once begun, they last forever, in human terms. So will women’s hockey.

 

If you need another metaphor to nudge you in the direction the cosmos are pointing, try this. Thousands of young girls, our Future Draft Picks, will be skating this winter on frozen ponds and lakes, all of yhem part of hockey’s New Ice Age. And those frozen lakes and ponds were carved out by the massive glaciation that occurred in the previous Ice Age during the Pleistocene Era a couple of million years ago. And we now believe, that some 14,000 years ago, the first humans began to appear in North America. It is not hard to imagine, that at some point while crossing a frozen stretch of water, one of those early humans may have kicked at a chunk of ice and watched it skitter across the frozen surface. What wonder did she experience, watching that, and how much of that moment was imprinted on her DNA. We will never know for sure, but we are glad we inherited that it from her.

 

And it keeps us returning to frozen surfaces in greater numbers each year, to watch pucks skitter and blades flash. Cetacean Nation has noted the importance of our little Future Draft Picks on numerous occasions. The NWHL and the players have done an amazing job of encouraging. emboldening and empowering them by their acknowledgement and interaction. It is unique in its scope and scale in the annals of sport. So when thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, Cetacean Nation came up with a pretty good one. This winter, make it a point to attend a local girl’s high school or women’s college hockey game. They are not hard to find.

 

These venues are where our little Future Draft picks play before they can perhaps reach the NWHL. Third grade girls have had the NWHL as a reality, and the players as role models, since Kindergarten. This year’s class of graduating college and high school seniors have had this their entire four years at their institutions. Women’s hockey is not just a phenomenon, it is part of of our culture. And like any cultural entity in any society, it deserves to be supported and nurtured. So among your resolutions to see more Whale games, purchase more Whale gear, and talk more Whale talk in 2019, add taking in some high school or college hockey to the list as well. Fins Up!