Friday, 26 February 2016

Princteon show support with A Day for Denna Laing

In a season that culminated with the Princeton Tigers capturing the ECAC regular season championship, there has been a remarkable extra source of motivation. As former two-time Tigers captain Denna Laing suffered a spinal cord injury in the Women’s Winter Classic (contested on New Year’s Eve 2015), the outpouring of love and support from the hockey community, both female and male, has been nothing short of astounding.
Such admiration has been proudly displayed by the Tigers, hoping to raise her spirits while showing the true essence of teamwork and devotion. Earlier in the month, road trips to Dartmouth and Harvard culminated with a visit to Denna Laing in the hospital. Tigers head coach Jeff Kampersal led the roster into the Boston hospital as Laing greeted them with a warm, glowing smile. Senior Maddie Peake, a former teammate of Laing showed leadership by bringing ease and comfort with questions for Laing. The result was a cordial and jubilant experience which also saw Laing proud to show the progress in the improvement of her motor skills.

One week before the regular season wound down, the program hosted a special fundraiser. The February 13 event was aptly titled, “A Day for Denna Laing” and took place during the contest against the St. Lawrence Skating Saints. Laing even sent a recorded message of thanks, only adding to the feeling of friendship on this special day. With all proceeds benefitting the Denna Laing Fund, the Tigers held a bake sale, silent auction, accepted donations and also staged a “Chuck-a-Puck” event, quickly becoming a popular feature at all levels of hockey.

In addition, there were very sharp-looking black and orange tuques (also known as Beanies) that featured the wording “#14 Strong” on the front. While Laing wore the number 24 with the NWHL’s Boston Pride, her Tigers number was 14. Throughout the hockey community, teams have gathered to the ice and posed for a group photo where players form the number 14, proudly posting it on social media.

While the contest against St. Lawrence was settled in overtime, the feeling of pride and dedication for Denna lifted the Tigers to a victorious ascension. With junior Kelsey Koelser logging the game winning tally just 25 seconds into the overtime frame, the fans at Hobey Baker Rink roared in approval, proud of the team’s fighting spirit. As a side note, the victory provided senior goaltender Kimberly Newell with her 50th as a member of the Tigers.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Canadiennes de Montreal blowout Boston in 14-0 triumph

In a game that took less than two hours to complete, 17 scorers from Les Canadennes de Montreal contributed at least one point as the Boston Blades were pummelled in a 14-0 whitewash. Prevailing by the largest margin of victory by any CWHL team all season, it was another exciting moment in a season filled with many of them for Montreal.
The game-winning goal would be scored at the 5:05 mark of the first as Caroline Ouellette scored on Genevieve Lacasse, who both played together for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. With Noemie Marin (who earned her 200th career point earlier this season) and Sophie Brault earning the assists, the hometown fans on-hand at Centre Etienne Desmarteau (nor the Blades for that matter) could not have foreseen the onslaught to come.
Despite ten more minutes of scoreless play in the first, the Blades were unable to mount an offensive attack, managing a meagre two shots in the entire period. First-year player Alyssa Sherrard and Ottawa-native Chelsey Saunders would assist on a goal by Emilie Bocchia at the 15:24 mark for the 2-0 lead.
Boston’s woes would continue as team captain Tara Watchorn was called for body checking at 17:57, providing the home team with the first power play opportunity of the game. Only 28 seconds into the power play, Montreal capitalized as Marie-Philip Poulin, the All-Star Game MVP added to a growing lead. As a side note, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Julie Chu, who balances playing with a coaching role at Concordia University, both earned the assists, as nine different Canadiennes registered a point in the first period.
Facing 22 shots in the first, Lacasse continued to provide a valiant performance. Despite only one win all season, Lacasse makes a strong case for the CWHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award as she has faced more shots than any other goaltender in league play, while maintaining a strong standard of leadership for a beleaguered Boston squad. Allowing only two goals in the second stanza, Lacasse was working tirelessly to try and instill confidence in her teammates, as they could only muster two shots on net for the second straight period.
Early in the third period, things fell apart very quickly for Boston as Les Canadiennes sizzled with three goals in just 43 seconds. Team captain Cathy Chartrand would start the hot streak as Poulin and Bettez logged the assists. Bettez would log her second goal of the game 31 seconds later as the crowd roared in approval. A mere 12 seconds later, Leslie Oles would score, as Jordanna Peroff and Lauriane Rougeau logged the assists. Each would log their first points of the game as Les Canadiennes roared to a commanding (and insurmounmtable) 8-0 advantage.
After the three-goal debacle, a tired and dejected Lacasse was removed from the game. Despite such disappointment, Lacasse was treated to a round of applause by the appreciative fans, as her 36 saves were a game-high. Replaced by goaltender Amanda Cariddi, making only her third CWHL appearance, it would not stop the flood to follow. 27 seconds after replacing Lacasse, Cariddi allowed a goal to long-time Montreal veteran Emmanuelle Blais.
By the 4:33 mark, Montreal extended their lead to an overwhelming 10-0 mark, as Bettez got the hat trick. With Deschenes and Poulin earning the assists, it was part of a unique subplot for the franchise. Of note, all three skaters, plus Ouellette were among the top four leading scorers in league play. With each looking to finish the season with the scoring title, it added a unique aspect to the contest.
While Cariddi settled down after Bettez’ goal, trying her best to maintain her composure in such a difficult situation, Boston continued to struggle on the offensive side of the game. Such struggles would result in Les Canadiennes exploiting such weaknesses as a pair of goals was scored less than 30 seconds apart. Julie Chu would become the eighth different Montreal skater to score a goal in the contest, beating Cariddi at the 7:26 mark. Only 27 seconds later, Kim Deschenes would score, with Bettez and Poulin also adding to their own season point totals with the assists. Some relief would follow for Boston as Leslie Oles was called for a tripping penalty. Despite their best efforts, opposing goaltender Charline Labonte nullified the Boston power play with little pressure.
Noemie Marin would score the last two goals of the game with the first coming at 11:28 and the last seven and a half minutes later as the Blades were outshot in the third by a 21-5 margin. Overall, Montreal had peppered Lacasse and Cariddi with 59 shots, compared to 9 for the visitors as Labonte earned her league best sixth shutout.
Of note, Bettez, Chu, Marin and Ouellette would each log at least one point in each period of play. Bettez was recognized as the First Star of the Game, while Second Star honors were bestowed upon Noemie Marin. It was Bocchia who would garner Third Star honors. Chu would also lead all players with a plus/minus rating of +7. Meanwhile, Boston had eight players suffer a rating of -5 or worse, with Maggie DiMasi on the ice for nine goals, while Sarah Duncan endured a -7.
The following day, both teams took to the ice once again to close out the season with Montreal prevailing easily once again by a 10-1 mark, for a cumulative two-game score of 24-1. As the Clarkson Cup playoffs approach, will Montreal still have any firepower left? While the squad should easily dispose of their first round opponents, the Toronto Furies, the heartbreak of two Clarkson Cup finals losses (2013, 2015) definitely haunts the franchise.
Ironically, both of those losses were suffered at the hands of the Boston Blades, who suffered the biggest single season collapse in CWHL history, and perhaps all modern women’s hockey. While the crash was attributed to a large migration of players to another league, along with the loss of its general manager and coach, several weaknesses, including a lack of scoring and chemistry were brutally exposed.
While it was understandable that Boston would not be as competitive this season, its one win season matches the Burlington Barracudas mark for futility, having won once during the 2011-12 campaign. With rumors that Watchorn may suit up for one of the teams in the Greater Toronto Area next season (she was raised east of Toronto in Newcastle), the future of the franchise is one that seriously warrants discussion. Taking into account that the Barracudas were contracted after their disastrous season, the Blades may endure a difficult struggle to attract top talent should there be a next season.  

Monday, 8 February 2016

Hayley Moore enjoys unique comeback with the Boston Pride

Days prior to the Women’s Winter Classic, the Boston Pride was faced with a predicament. Eight of its members were fulfilling obligations with the U.S. National Team over the holiday season, testament to the world-class talent on the Pride. With its roster depleted, concern ensued as to whether the Pride could ice an adequate roster for its final regular season game of the 2015 calendar year.

Facing off against the Connecticut Whale, who had won their first nine games, a determined Pride roster would ensure that any outcome against such a league powerhouse would be hard fought. With the consultation and encouragement of head coach Bobby Jay, an emergency player was literally in the Pride’s backyard.

Although Hayley Moore has been nothing short of superlative as the first General Manager in franchise history, acquiring an exceptional group of free agents and local talent, along with a solid draft class, she brings a remarkable breadth of hockey experience. In addition to having served as a coach with the Harvard Crimson, Moore can boast of a proud playing career.

Part of the Boston Blades’ inaugural roster in 2010-11, Moore played with the likes of Caitlin Cahow, Mandy Cronin, Jaclyn Hawkins, Jessica Koizumi and Angela Ruggiero. Having also played for legendary coach Digit Murphy at Brown University, one of the oldest women’s hockey programs in the United States, her acumen on the ice made her the perfect choice to grace the ice for the Pride.

While Moore did receive compensation for her role as an emergency player, it added to a solid New England hockey legacy. Of note, she joins Cherie Hendrickson as the only players to have participated in the inaugural season in both Blades and Pride history. In addition, Moore becomes one of several players from that inaugural Blades roster, including current Connecticut Whale players Sam Faber, Koizumi and Micaela Long to have competed in the NWHL’s inaugural season.

Just four days before the Women’s Winter Classic, Moore would suit up for the Pride, becoming the first General Manager in league history to skate in an NWHL regular season game. Donning Jordan Smelker’s #11 jersey (although Moore’s name was not on said jersey); Moore experienced the thrill of competition that eluded her since hanging up her skates in competitive women’s play.

Such an experience ran parallel to Bobby Jay, who once had to perform double duty as coach and emergency player during his time in the American Hockey League. In four games played with the Manchester Monarchs in the 2001-02 season, Jay accumulated a plus/minus rating of -1.

Against the Whale, Moore was on a line with Jillian Dempsey and Emily Field. Compiling a pair of shots and losing one faceoff, Moore also showed grit in the later periods, not afraid to get into the corners. Her determination help set a strong example for the other Pride players, who were uplifted by her efforts.

Taking a 1-0 lead after the first period, the Pride continued to attempt to add to their lead, relentlessly peppering the Connecticut crease with an impressive 19 shots in the second. While neither team would score in the second, the first period goal would prove to be crucial. Considering that both teams registered 30 shots on net in the third (17 by Boston), such persistence resulted in a pair of goals scored.

With Boston outshooting the Whale by a 44-34 margin, the final score was 2-1 in Boston’s favor as the Whale suffered the first loss in franchise history. Field, who was the recipient of many scoring opportunities as Moore constantly supplied her with crisp passes, received First Star of the Game honors. Scoring one of the Pride’s goals, Kelly Cooke was honored as the Second Star of the Game. Whale forward Kate Buesser, who was one of three Whale players (including Shannon Doyle and Kaleigh Fratkin) loaned to the Pride for the Women’s Winter Classic, scored the lone goal for the Whale, gaining Third Star of the Game in the process. 

Adding to the jubilation of such a special milestone was the fact that Connecticut Whale goaltender Nicole Stock was a former teammate of Moore with the Brown University Bears. As Kate Cimini reported with Today’s Slapshot, Moore was recognized with the Pride’s team award recognizing the Player of the Game.

Morgan Richardson among group of nominees for Hockey Humanitarian Award

Among the group of 18 nominees for the 2016 Hockey Humanitarian Award, which includes both male and female competitors at the NCAA level, it was heartwarming to see Morgan Richardson gain such prestigious recognition. As the criteria for the award recognizes "college hockey's finest citizen", there is no question that Richardson is highly worthy.

Currently in her senior season with the Cornell Big Red in Ithaca, New York, Ricahrdson’s impact on the team extended far beyond the rink. Through Do It for Daron (DIFD), many of her teammates were so touched by the story behind the cause, and the courage that Richardson showed, that upon graduation, they would organize DIFD nights with their new club teams.

It is the type of courage that still captures the hearts and minds of residents in her hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. As her father, Luke Richardson, a former first round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs is also the head coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, there is no question that this quaint community in upstate New York is equally moved by the empowering influence of DIFD.

Sadly, the autumn of 2010 brought an abrupt end to the promising life of Daron Richardson, who was Morgan’s younger sister. Like Morgan, Daron also had a love of the game, both dreaming of emulating their father’s hockey glories as they got older. Daron’s passing would prove to be a heartbreaking loss that not just devastated Ottawa’s women’s hockey community, but the entire city itself.

The result was a collective effort throughout the community to preserve Daron’s memory with the formation of DIFD. Dedicated to promote youth mental health awareness, the cause has included the brave leadership of mom Stephanie Richardson, who continues to inspire as a pillar of strength.

Although upstate New York is currently the Richardson’s home due to hockey commitments, the hockey communities in Cornell and Binghamton have embraced the cause, holding DIFD nights on an annual basis. The support of the hockey community has proven crucial, showing great compassion.

Its message is so powerful that DIFD nights are not just exclusive to Ottawa and New York state. This season, New Jersey-based Princeton University was one of three clubs outside of this region to host a DIFD night. Of note, the NWHL’s Boston Pride, which features Cornell alums Lauren Slebodnick and Alyssa Gagliardi  helped organize a DIFD event. In addition, the Calgary Inferno became the first CWHL team to host a DIFD event. CWHL All-Star Jessica Campbell and Hayleigh Cudmore both played with Richardson as Cornell. Their support for DIFD not only resulted in an event, but in special edition purple jerseys with the DIFD logo on the shoulder.

With regards to the DIFD nights proudly hosted by Cornell, Richardson has shown tremendous leadership, helping to organize the DIFD game since her freshman season. Since its launching in 2010, DIFD has raised over $4 million dollars, while providing young people and others that have struggled with mental health issues to feel courage and strength. While the winner shall be named on Friday, April 8 in Tampa, Florida, the recognition of Richardson is not only a significant achievement, but represents a tremendous victory for all who support mental health research.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Presence of hockey mom adds heartwarming chapter to Brampton-Toronto hockey rivalry

As the Brampton Thunder hosted the Toronto Furies, the contest featured a pleasant tone of coincidence, enhanced by the loving presence of a devoted hockey mom. The result was one of the most heartwarming, feel-good stories of the 2015-16 women’s hockey season.

Having spent several seasons between the pipes for the Brampton Thunder, Sonja van der Bliek was part of a rare trade, sent to the crosstown Toronto Furies on November 18, 2005 in exchange for a late round 2016 draft pick. With goaltender (and CWHL co-founder) Sami Jo Small on maternity leave, she brings the experience to contribute to the squad’s hopes of qualifying for the postseason.

As a side note, the only other trade to take place in the 2015-16 season also involved goaltenders. The New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale exchanged back up goaltenders as Chelsea Laden joins New York, and Shenae Lundberg occupies a new role as the backup to Whale starter Jaimie Leonoff.

In an early January 2016 match that saw the visiting Furies look to gain their first win of the New Year, it marked an emotional return for van der Bliek as it marked the first time she was facing the Thunder at their home rink. Providing a valiant effort between the pipes, van der Bliek would allow four goals in a hard fought 5-4 final in favor of her former team. Former teammates Fielding Montgomery and Jocelyne Larocque would score.
Of note, she was not the only member of her family present at the contest. During her years with the Thunder, it was not uncommon for her mom to be one of the proud faces in the crowd, showing her support.
Although this latest chapter in the Battle of Toronto saw van der Bliek as a member of the visiting Furies, she could still count on the presence of her mom in the stands. During the second intermission, the special bond that hockey has strengthened between mother and daughter took an exciting new aspect, one that would capture the imaginations of hockey fans.
Participating in the Chuck-a-Puck contest, quickly becoming a staple at many levels of hockey, where fans purchase a puck for fundraising purposes, it was van der Bliek’s mom that would emerge victorious. As the premise of the contest involves fans throwing pucks onto the ice, with the one whose puck lands closest to the face-off circle at centre ice, a prize is allocated for their effort.
The prize was a bright red colored Thunder game-worn jersey from last season, signed by van der Bliek. Taking into account that her mom had the winning toss, it could not have been more serendipitous.
While the Thunder have changed their uniforms this season, adopting a sharp black and white motif akin to the Los Angeles Kings, the red jersey that was prevalent when van der Bliek stood between the pipes represented a rebuilding era. Having undergone several uniform changes over the seasons, adopting the red color for their jerseys, with the name “Brampton” in white font (in a rainbow formation) across the front, it symbolized a colorful coincidence for van der Bliek.
Considering that van der Bliek played her NCAA hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State, where she broke 14 school records and earned a spot on the 2009 ECAC Championship All-Tournament Team, their jerseys were also a bright red. During her time with the Thunder, van der Bliek also donned the helmet from her sparkling RPI career. It was a pleasant and innocent imagery, rekindling happy glories from her NCAA career.
Sharing goaltending duties in Brampton with the likes of Erica Howe and Liz Knox, van der Bliek’s presence was characterized by a time of optimism, in which the love of the game was complemented by a group of dedicated young women working tirelessly to restore the franchise to glory. With the promise of winning days on the horizon, those formative years in Brampton were enriched for van der Bliek by the proud presence of family. For her mom, the signed jersey is more than a signed souvenir. Brining the Brampton experience full circle, it is a proud symbol that commemorates an encouraging era.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Brampton Thunder pays homage to its proud Winter Games connection

As one of the longest running women’s hockey clubs in Canada, the Brampton Thunder (also known once as the Brampton Canadettes) has a proud heritage of its players competing in the Winter Olympic Games. Starting with the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, the club has enjoyed the privilege of at least one member from its roster competing on the Canadian national women’s team at the Olympic level.

Considering that the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games signify the 20 Anniversary of Nagano, which was the first women’s ice hockey tournament at the Games, there is no question that current Thunder stars such as Courtney Birchard, Erica Howe, Jocelyne Larocque and Jamie Lee Rattray will all be given consideration for spots on the 2018 roster.

Adding to Brampton’s proud legacy is the fact that Lori Dupuis, a two-time Winter Games medalist (silver – 1998, gold – 2002) is doing a superlative job in her third season as the general manager of the Brampton Thunder. On January 31, Dupuis was joined by three other Brampton alums with Olympic roots.

Hosting Olympic Day, Brampton legends Jayna Hefford (4 golds, 1 silver), Kathleen Kauth (1 bronze with Team USA at Torino 2006) and Vicky Sunohara (2 golds, 1 silver) were on-hand to see the Thunder host the cross-town rivals Toronto Furies. All three were at centre ice for the ceremonial faceoff, which featured Brampton captain Larocque and Furies captain (and two-time CWHL All-Star) Michelle Bonello. As a side note, the three were gracious enough to hold a post-game autograph session, meeting the star struck fans.

The presence of such legendary players only added to the sense of excitement and
momentum for an energized Brampton team. In a first period that saw Brampton outshoot the visiting Furies by a 12-6 margin, the club assembled a dominant performance which resulted in five goals, for a convincing 5-0 lead.

Two-time CWHL All-Star Jess Jones would open the scoring at the 2:20 mark as Rattray and Fortino were credited with the assists. Less than three minutes later, Jones and Rattray would gain their second points of the contest, assisting on a goal scored by Candice Styles.

Enjoying the two-goal lead, Brampton continued to add to said lead as the club capitalized on a power play. With Sena Suzuki, the first international player to compete in the CWHL All-Star Game serving a hooking penalty, rookie sensation Rebecca Vint found the back of the net. Gaining the assist was Kristen Richards, who has played with Vint at the NCAA level with the Robert Morris Colonials, and also played together with the Toronto Shamrocks, capturing the 2015 Canadian ball hockey national championships.

At the 9:52 mark, Furies goaltender Christina Kessler would allow her fourth and final goal of the contest. Fortino would log her first goal of the game, and second point overall, while Jenna McParland and Courtney Birchard added their names to the score sheet, each logging assists.

Allowing three goals on just seven shots, Kessler was replaced by Sonja van der Bliek. Having started her season with the Thunder, she was traded to Toronto for a late round pick as goaltender (and CWHL co-founder) Sami Jo Small went on maternity leave. Facing her former Brampton teammates, van der Bliek would not exit the period without allowing a goal too. Sarah Edney, the first pick overall of the 2015 CWHL Draft scored on her former teammate, as Jones and Rattray registered their third points of an impressive first period with the assists.

Heading into the second stanza, van der Bliek would have a calming influence between the pipes, stopping all 11 Brampton shots. Meanwhile, the Furies could only muster seven shots, despite two power play opportunities that presented themselves as Jones was called for roughing and Birchard would be sent to the penalty box for cross checking.

Despite peppering Brampton goaltender Liz Knox with 10 shots in the third period, Knox was playing with a remarkable confidence, displaying the talent that made her the first rookie to start a Clarkson Cup championship game. Fortino and Jones would combine with Rattray once again, proving to be a dominant trio for Brampton, as Rattray added to the lead with her first goal of the game.

Adding to Toronto’s woes was the fact that the club was in penalty kill mode for the latter half of the third. Carolyne Prevost, who was also a member of the Shamrocks, was called for body checking at 10:33. Tensions would rise for Toronto as Candice Styles and Furies captain Michelle Bonello engaged in a physical confrontation. While Styles would serve two minutes for body checking, Bonello fared much worse. Called for two penalties, which included roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct, it placed Toronto at a player disadvantage until the 14:02 mark.

In a game that took less than two hours to play (1:58 to be precise), the third place Thunder continued to add distance between themselves and the Furies, who are hanging on to fourth place, which is also the final postseason berth. Proving to be a valuable acquisition for the Furies, van der Bliek would record 31 saves. Opposing goaltender Liz Knox would only need 23 saves for the shutout, as she also emerged with First Star of the Game honors. Jones would gain Second Star and Rattray’s Third Star honor made it a clean sweep for a dominant Brampton working towards their first postseason berth since 2013.

Les Canadiennes de Montreal maintain proud tradition of Pink at the Rink

Ending the month of January with their “Pink at the Rink” fundraiser, Les Canadiennes de Montreal provided the fans with a true win-win situation. Not only were the pink game-worn jerseys auctioned off for breast cancer research, providing fans with a remarkable treasure, the home team prevailed by a 5-2 tally against the first-place Calgary Inferno.

Continuing a proud tradition that began when the club was known as the Montreal Stars, the franchise has become remarkable hockey humanitarians in this noble cause. Taking into account that club founder Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux (currently part of Montreal’s coaching staff) and Caroline Ouellette have seen cherished family members survive the disease, their hearts are filled with compassion on what has evolved into the most popular event during the season. 

After a scoreless first period which saw Montreal outshot the visiting team by a 9-4 margin while successfully kill a pair of penalties, Ouellette would factor in the scoring. With Aina Takeuchi serving a penalty for interference, Ouellette capitalized on the power play opportunity, providing Les Canadiennes the early lead. Scoring on Delayne Brian, who were both teammates on Team Black at the recent All-Star Game, assists were credited to Ann-Sophie Bettez and Lauriane Rougeau, a pair of fellow All-Star Game competitors.

Entering the third period, both teams exploded for a six goal output, as the scoring floodgates were opened. Coincidentally, not one of the goals was scored on the power play as an energetic, high paced period saw a total of 25 shots.

Just 34 seconds into the period, Noemie Marin, who earned her 200th career CWHL point just a few weeks ago, added to the lead of Les Canadiennes as rookie sensation Katia Clement-Heydra logged the assist. It would not take long for Calgary to reply as Elana Lovell, the CWHL’s leading scorers among rookies snapped Charline Labonte’s bid for a shutout at the 1:55 mark.

Such momentum would not last long for Calgary as Montreal regained their two-goal lead just 36 seconds afterwards. Ouellette would log her second goal of the game to a roar of approval from the Montreal faithful as Rougeau and Marin earned their second points of the night with assists. All-Star Game MVP Marie-Philip Poulin would follow with her own goal as the goals were scored within 25 seconds.

Despite their best efforts, Calgary was unable to regain momentum. After Poulin’s goal, both teams served penalties, which would contribute to over ten minutes of scoreless play. With Montreal looking to protect their lead, it ground down the first place Calgary club, making it difficult to reduce their opponents lead.

At the 14:03 mark, second-year player Louise Warren managed to score, providing Calgary with its second goal of the contest. Lovell and Brittany Esposito registered the assists, as the two have been significant factors in Calgary’s offensive attack this season.

With less than two minutes to play, Calgary displayed some bravura, opting for an open net. Although Calgary had the extra attacker on the ice, it would not prove to be advantageous as Poulin took full opportunity to place the puck in the open net, gaining her second goal of the game in a convincing 5-1 final.

Caroline Ouellette would gain First Star of the Game honors, a fitting tribute on such a memorable day, as she has worked tirelessly in the community for charitable causes, including breast cancer research. Marin was honored as the Second Star while Lovell was the lone Calgary player to be recognized, obtaining the Third Star of the Game.

First trade in NWHL history features goaltenders

One of the unique aspects of professional women’s hockey is the fact that traders are an extreme rarity. Despite the presence of a player draft in both the NWHL and the CWHL, first round picks are never used as bargaining chips to improve one’s roster, which only adds to the scarcity of transactions.

Less than four months into its inaugural season, the NWHL issued a surpriseannouncement as the first trade in league history took place. With the transaction involving the first place Connecticut Whale and the New York Riveters, goaltenders were the focal point.

Chelsea Laden, the first goaltender signed to an NWHL contract would make history twice as she was part of the league’s first trade. She was acquired by the New York Riveters in exchange for Shenae Lundberg.

Both goaltenders were in their rookie season of professional hockey, having both graduated from NCAA play in 2015. Of note, Laden appeared in 88 games with the Quinnipiac Bobcats program. Gaining the starting role in 2014-15, the native of Lakeville, Minnesota would post a sparkling won-loss mark of 25-9-2.

A graduate of Union College, Lundberg grew up in Peterborough, New Hampshire. In four seasons with the Dutchwomen, she appeared between the pipes on 110 occasions. While her senior season saw personal bests for games played, minutes, saves and save percentage, she would record more wins and a better save percentage in her junior season.

Coincidentally, the two played against each other twice in their senior seasons of NCAA hockey. Both games featured similar themes as Laden logged shutouts in a pair of lopsided matches that saw Lundberg play valiantly.

The first encounter would take place on November 15, 2014 as Lundberg faced an astounding 58 shots, allowing five goals. On home ice, Laden only faced eight shots from the opposing Dutchwomen, resulting in her seventh straight win to open the season.  The rematch took place on January 2, 2015 in Schenedacty, New York. Needing just four saves to record her seventh shutout of the season, Laden watched as Lundberg faced 35 shots, allowing four goals.

Adding to the sense of coincidence is that both made their NWHL debuts on the same day, which would stand as their only appearances for their respective teams. On October 18, Chelsea Laden earned her first career NWHL start for the Whale, facing off against the Buffalo Beauts.

Allowing just two goals on 38 shots, Laden would be the second of three different goaltenders to appear in consecutive games for the Whale. Canadian Jaimie Leonoff would win the first game in Whale history, which was also the first in NWHL history. The third game would feature Brown Bears alumnus Nicole Stock. All three goaltenders would win their respective starts.

Laden would allow a goal in the first period to Meghan Duggan. Said goal would be historic as it marked the first career NWHL goal for Duggan, the captain for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.  At the 17:01 mark of the third period, the Whale found their 3-1 lead trimmed to one goal as Kelley Steadman scored for the Beauts. Despite allowing the goal, Laden remained solid, stopping 15 Beauts shots (she would also make 15 saves in the second) as Molly Engstrom and Kaleigh Fratkin scored goals just 76 seconds apart, preserving the lead and providing Laden with her first career NWHL win. 

Lundberg entered the October 18 contest against the Boston Pride in a relief effort. After starting goaltender Nana Fujimoto allowed three goals on 16 shots, she was removed at the 31:04 mark of the contest. Prior to her removal, Fujimoto had played in every minute of the Riveters first games, making Lundberg the second goalie in franchise history to appear in a game.

In the third period, Lundberg would allow four goals on 32 shots, recording an .875 save percentage. Alaska native Zoe Hickel would score just 12 seconds in said period, gaining her second score of the game. Goals would follow by Corinne Buie, Blake Bolden, the first African-American player to appear in the NWHL and Jordan Smelker, also raised in Alaska.

The end result is a win-win situation for the Riveters and the Whale. Although the starting goaltender situation is firm both teams, the change in back-up goaltenders is beneficial. Lundberg is a workhorse goaltender, ready to be called upon when needed. While there is no denying that Laden has talent, there simply was not enough playing time with the solid goaltending Leonoff. As the Riveters are looking to avoid becoming the first team to finish last in the NWHL standings, Laden may be able to relieve pressure on Fujimoto, injecting new energy into a team looking for the third place seeding.