Sam in action in her first game for the Whale, wearing #2 before switching to her familiar #32. Photo: Matthew Raney

SAM DONOVAN: THE MINNESOTA GOODBYE


Well, maybe not exactly the "Minnesota Goodbye", but it is the second time around for Cetacean Nation to bid farewell to our always popular former #32 Samantha Donovan the “Iron Will From Irondale.” Maybe more like Juliet said to Romeo, that “Parting is such sweet sorrow”. Either way, it was bittersweet to wish Sam well when she left the Pod to play for the Whitecaps in Season Five. And so it is now as she leaves the NWHL to join the a PWHPA. Sam, as you probably know, was a local Minnesota high school sports legend. Her decision to return to her home state to play as a professional was not only understandable, but somehow seemed like destiny. And if you know Sam, even if just from her style of play, you know she is someone who does not do things without a reason. And she had a pretty good one for her latest adventure too. Here’s what she told us about that decision.

 “Overall, I’m incredibly grateful for the experience I’ve had in the NWHL. I started with Connecticut right after my senior year where I spent a couple of weeks living in Amanda Boulier’s (Boo) walk-in closet and studied from her house. I had such a great time, and the team was awesome! I played for MN year last year which was also awesome. The fans were great and the atmosphere was incredible. It’ll be I never forget! Next year I have decided to pursue an opportunity with the PWHPA and hopefully play with my cousin, Maddie Rooney (Olympic Gold Medalisl goalie). We’ve actually never played together, so that would be super fun! I love that both leagues are aiming to build a platform for elite female hockey players and I hope that someday the leagues will combine!”

Cetacean Nation concurs, and thinks that at some point we will all be skating on the same ice together as well. Sam faced off against the Pod four times last season, twice at Danbury and twice at Tria in Minnesota. The last time was the final weekend of the 2019-2020 regular season, when we visited Minnesota to tune-up for our first round play-off game with Buffalo. In the Saturday contest, Sam scored her first career NWHL goal at 13:02 of period one. Sam and her teammates never had the chance to play in defence of the Isobel Cup. Starting with the Championship game the world turned upside down with the pandemic. And so we asked Sam, as we have everyone this unprecedented offseason, what things have been like for her in that regard. She replied

“So this is like the 4th month of quarantine and I’ve finally started to adapt to the new way of life. I’ve been working from home and like it a lot. I can wake up later, go on a walk in the morning and at lunch, and make my own meals.I do not have to deal with traffic, I can workout earlier, and wear pjs all day if I want to haha :). I definitely miss my coworkers though! The gyms have been open in MN for the past month. At first i didn’t like it at all, but I was able to try new exercises and supersets which made my workouts go by faster. I started doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts which have been challenging and fun! I just started skating again 3 weeks ago and I felt like Bambi the first time, but I’m starting to get into a rhythm again. I missed skating! “Hockey shape” is difficult to maintain. I was sore for a week "she laughed.

And a veteran off three NWHL seasons, Sam also weighed in on what she’d like to see heading forward. She told us

 “I’m excited to see where the NWHL goes. The league has made huge strides to establish a competitive league for women’s hockey players. I’d like to see more expansion in the Midwest: Chicago, Milwaukee/Madison, Duluth, ot St. Louis. Ideally places with a great fan base, and in places where the teams can partner with an NHL team. It would also make traveling for players more doable. There could be a “western” and “eastern” conference, similar to the NHL. I’m excited to see how Toronto does this year. It looks like they’re recruiting some top tier players! “

Cetacean Nation appreciates Sam taking the time to share these thoughts with the fans. And we decided to pose a few fun questions to her as well. Here’s what Sam had to say  in response to these queries.

Favorite Dunkin’ beverage: “Oh gosh, I’m a coffee addict! I usually get a medium iced latte with a shot of sugar free coconut and toasted almond with almond milk and stevia.”  

Favorite rink(s): "Tria (where the Whitecaps play) was cool. I also loved the atmosphere at Ridder (the MISam Donovan: The Minnesota Goodbyehome rink) . I think the Whitecaps could potentially play there since it’s bigger and MN was selling out every game, which proves there’s room for growth! I also really enjoyed playing at Yale at Ingalls Rink. It just looks so cool on the outside!”

Favorite pre-game snack: "Oatmeal!"

Favorite post-game snack: "Usually a protein shake"

 We have just sampled Sam’s Dunkin’ choice, and it gor a big a Fins Up all around! This is the third time Sam has shared content with Cetacean Nation, and you can check out her other stories just above this one for even more about Sam her career. We thank our amazing #32 Samantha Donovan for taking the time to touch base with the fans, and wish her all the best this coming season. Fins Up Forever Sam!

Samantha Donovan #32 Connecticut Whale. Photo: Dan Hickling