TRAINING CAMPS OPEN THIS WEEK
With the beginning of the 2019-20 NWHL season less than a month away, all five of the league’s teams are gearing up for training camp. While general managers are putting the finishing touches on their respective rosters, they have set up training camp practices through September before the season begins on Oct. 5th.
The defending champion Minnesota Whitecaps will hold their first team practices on Tuesday and Thursday this week before playing the University of Minnesota in an exhibition game on Sept. 22. Following that showdown, the Whitecaps will practice again on Sept. 24 and Sept. 26 before playing the UMD Bulldogs on the Sept. 28. All of the Whitecaps’ practices this season will take place at TRIA Rink.
“The Whitecaps are starting this season off with a bang,” said co-head coach Ronda Engelhardt. “I’m really excited to see how we look with our new players, and to get our team ready for the regular season.”
Playing two tune-up games against collegiate teams that are practicing six times a week presents a unique challenge for the Whitecaps, but the veterans that make up the team’s core are no strangers to such tests. With much of last year’s Isobel Cup-winning roster returning, the Whitecaps, led by a bevy of returning All-Stars and elite-level rookies Nicole Schammel and Sydney Baldwin, are eager to begin their title defense.
Buffalo Beauts head coach Pete Perram and general manager Mandy Cronin are holding six practices in September before playing a scrimmage against Brock University on Sept. 28 at 4:20 p.m. at Northtown Center’s Olympic rink. Admission is free for all fans.
Once the regular season gets underway, the Beauts will practice twice a week taking advantage of Northtown Center’s three major league rinks and Olympic rink.
The Beauts, led by All-Star Corinne Buie, are already counting the days until they host the Riveters at the Buffalo Believes Classic, the NWHL’s first regular season outdoor game. The Beauts have a fresh-faced roster that features rookie forwards Brooke Stacey, Marie Jo Pelletier, and Cassidy MacPherson and local favorites Maddie Norton and Emma Ruggiero.
“If you look at our roster, you’ll notice so many of our players were captains on their college or national teams,” said Buffalo GM Mandy Cronin. “We are building a true team where chemistry will be a vital component. That’s what training camp is all about, and we really looking forward to building a Buffalo Beauts team that connects with the community and makes our fans proud.”
Several members of the Metropolitan Riveters have already taken to the ice this offseason for informal workouts with new head coach Ivo Mocek. One of those players is forward Bulbul Kartanbay, the first player from Kazakhstan to play professional women’s hockey in North America. Starting this week, the Riveters practice at Floyd Hall Arena in Little Falls, NJ on Monday and Thursday evenings until Oct. 31. After Halloween, the Riveters will practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The team is led by returning fifth-year veteran Madison Packer.
The Riveters are preparing for a historic preseason skirmish against Long Island University on Sept. 28. It will be the first game in program history for the LIU Sharks, which should hold extra significance to Riveters players with local roots, including rookies Cailey Hutchison and Dana DeMartino. Following their game against the Sharks, the Riveters will join their friends at Sky Blue FC of the NWSL on Sept. 29 to celebrate their last home game of the season.
Boston Pride general manager Karilyn Pilch has scheduled the team’s first practice for tonight, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET. All of the Pride’s practices this season will take place at Boch Ice Arena in Dedham, Massachusetts on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Popular head coach Paul Mara has seven players returning from last year’s roster at training camp, including star center and captain Jillian Dempsey. But the buzz in camp is focused on the Pride’s rookies, including goaltender Lovisa Selander, forward Christina Putigna, and defender Jenna Rheault.
The Connecticut Whale will hold their first team practice on Tuesday, Sept. 17 and will practice four times before meeting the UConn Huskies for an exhibition game on Sept. 28. This season, the Whale will practice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at their new home rink, the Danbury Arena.
Whale general manager Bray Ketchum has added some fresh talent around a veteran blue line anchored by three players who are entering their fifth NWHL season. The Whale have a trio of rookie NWHL goaltenders ready to stop pucks and earn the starting job in training camp; Sonjia Shelly (St. Lawrence University), Brooke Wolejko (St. Lawrence/SUNY-Plattsburgh) and Cassandra Goyette (Nichols College).
Photo Credit: Ashley Intile