Home Sports CWHL 2018-19 season preview: former foes, now teammates Hilary Knight, Marie-Philip Poulin...

CWHL 2018-19 season preview: former foes, now teammates Hilary Knight, Marie-Philip Poulin highlight offseason moves | NHL

CWHL 2018-19 season preview: former foes, now teammates Hilary Knight, Marie-Philip Poulin highlight offseason moves | NHL

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League will get again in motion this weekend after an offseason outlined by means of alternate.

For the first time in a dozen years, the CWHL has a brand new (period in-between) commissioner. Four-time Olympic gold medalist, and 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Jayna Hefford is now occupying the workplace that had belonged to Brenda Andress for the reason that league’s inception.

But that wasn’t the one main alternate we noticed within the CWHL over the summer season.

The Blades franchise moved from Boston to Worcester, the place they are going to now not must immediately compete for fanatics with the NWHL’s Boston Pride. Additionally, the CWHL is 1 team smaller than it was once remaining year because the 2 franchises in China have merged into 1 team, the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays. This transfer has minimize the selection of players who have been creating wealth salary as player ambassadors in part.

During the offseason, there was once an inflow of American skill, 1 of the most efficient draft categories in years, and {four} head training adjustments. Let’s check out the place the league’s {six} groups stand before the puck drops in Montréal Saturday.

Calgary Inferno

Key Additions

Inferno normal supervisor Kristen Hagg hit this offseason out of the ballpark. She introduced in new head trainer Shannon Miller, who led the University of Minnesota-Duluth to {five} nationwide championships before successful her lawsuit against UMD for sexual discrimination

The addition of Miller helped draw in numerous skill, including {three} gold medalists from Team USA’s Pyeongchang 2018 roster. Brianna Decker, the NWHL’s MVP in 2016 and 2017, is sort of without a doubt the most important loose agent signing of the 2018 CWHL offseason. 

Hagg didn’t forestall at signing Decker, Kacey Bellamy, and Alex Rigsby, even though. She additionally added the Hickel sisters (Zoe and Tori), veteran Finnish ahead Venla Hovi, Halli Krzyzaniak and a few remarkable novices within the 2018 CWHL Draft.

Key Departures

The Inferno had {three} key players retire over the summer season and the 2 remarkable youngsters who have been at the team remaining season are now in school. Also long gone are 2 individuals of Canada’s nationwide team from Pyeongchang: goaltender Geneviève Lacasse and ahead Jillian Saulnier. Both players have been traded to Les Canadiennes for long term concerns.

Russian ahead Iya Gavrilova may also be out of Calgary’s lineup all year because of an ACL damage she suffered on the finish of remaining season. 

Rookie to Watch

Hagg decided on Rebecca Leslie in the second one round of the 2018 CWHL Draft. Leslie is coming off of a 57-point senior season at Boston University. She captained Canada on the 2018 Nations Cup and was once invited to Canada’s National Women’s Team Fall Festival in September. The first woman in Terriers’ historical past to attain 20 goals and pick out up 30 assists in a season will assist give Calgary a deep, unhealthy offense this year.


On paper, the Inferno have the entire equipment they wish to win their first Clarkson Cup since 2016. Calgary has intensity, talent, and revel in all through its lineup. It additionally has elite training to assist information a roster that had 9 players compete within the 2018 Olympics, including returning Inferno veterans, Brianne Jenner and Rebecca Johnston. 

Losing Delayne Brian to retirement and Lacasse to an offseason industry leaves some query marks in web, however Rigsby is 1 of the most efficient goaltenders of her era. She must supply steadiness to an Inferno team that had a .898 save share remaining year.

Les Canadiennes de Montréal

Key Additions

In a Les Canadiennes press free up, normal supervisor Meg Hewings known as this year the start of a “new era” for Montréal.

Hilary Knight, the preferred player in girls’s hockey, is again with Montréal for a complete season. She’s joined by means of newly obtained Pyeongchang silver medalists Jillian Saulnier and Geneviève Lacasse and returning Olympians Marie-Philip Poulin and Lauriane Rougeau.

Hewings additional reinforced her roster by means of drafting numerous confirmed players within the remaining 2 draft categories. She’s signed {four} rookie defenders and {four} rookie forwards to Montréal’s 24-woman roster this year.

Key Departures

No CWHL team noticed extra treasured players retire over the offseason than Les Canadiennes. Nine players including Caroline Ouellette, Cathy Chartrand and Noémie Marin hung up their skates. Marin was once moment at the team in scoring remaining year and Chartrand gained the CWHL’s Defender of the Year at 36-years-old. 

Ouellette, who is a residing legend for each the CWHL and Team Canada, will remain with the membership as Montréal’s technical trainer this year.

Les Canadiennes additionally lost its 2 French nationwide team individuals and Japanese defender Nachi Fujimoto to skilled groups in Europe over the summer season.

Rookie to Watch

Mélodie Daoust performed 2 games with Montreal as a young person again in 2010-11, however she nonetheless qualifies as a rookie. The 26-year-old Daoust is 1 of probably the most talented forwards within the game and arguably the most efficient player to return out of USports. Her incredible goal for Team Canada towards Maddie Rooney within the gold medal game of the Pyeongchang Olympics is all you truly wish to see to understand just how proficient she is.


Knight and Poulin are the present avatars of Team USA and Team Canada. This season, for the first time, they are going to put the most efficient contention in sports activities apart to be teammates, and the hockey international is ready with bated breath to look what they are going to appear to be as a duo.

“I’m excited,” Knight informed the Sporting News. “Everyone has observed us faceoff in one of the most largest fits of girls’s hockey. To in any case be at the similar team, to [grow] girls’s hockey in combination and do this off the ice, but additionally to be informed from 1 every other and take a look at to get a Clarkson Cup on the finish of the season is thrilling.

“I believe that on every occasion you’ll play with nice players it’s a superb opportunity no longer just for the team but additionally for private building and private enlargement.”

On paper, Montréal’s largest weak spot could be it’s somewhat unproven team of defenders. Thankfully for fanatics of Les Canadiennes, Montréal is backstopped by means of 2 elite goaltenders in Lacasse and Emerance Maschmeyer. The 2017 Clarkson Cup Champions are indubitably going to be within the hunt once more this year.

Markham Thunder

Key Additions

The protecting Clarkson Cup Champions controlled to stay the vast majority of their roster in combination and nonetheless discovered some way so as to add some critical skill in loose company and the draft.

High-scoring ahead Jess Jones is again after spending a year within the NWHL with the Buffalo Beauts. Jones, 28, is just 2 years got rid of from sharing the CWHL scoring identify with Poulin. 

General supervisor Chelsea Purcell additionally signed loose agent ahead Brooke Webster. Webster performed in China with the Vanke Rays remaining year and was once a point-per-game player. 

Key Departures

Over the summer season Markham lost Karolina Urban, Fielding Montgomery, Jessica Hartwick, and Melissa Wronzberg to retirement. Urban, 32, supplied some scoring intensity for Markham remaining year, however the Thunder will omit the blended – Work ethic of those {four} skaters greater than their skill to chip within the occasional goal.

Rookie to Watch

Victoria Bach, 22, is already a celebrity ahead and this might be the year she ascends to famous person standing. 

Bach was once a Top-3 Finalist for the 2018 Patty Kazmaier Award in her senior season at Boston University remaining year and completed 3rd within the country in issues (67). She peppers the online with pictures, ratings goals in bunches, and will likely be a large contributor on Markham’s energy play this year.


The Thunder’s protection, led by means of Laura Fortino, Jocelyne Larocque, and Megan Bozek, is 1 of the most efficient within the league and Markham’s goalie duo of Erica Howe and Liz Knox is rock cast. The largest distinction from remaining year is that the Thunder’s offense seems to be much better, which is excellent news for a team that struggled at the energy play a year in the past.

Markham wasn’t anticipated to win all of it in 2018, and maximum would agree that they aren’t favorites to win the Clarkson Cup this year. A CWHL team hasn’t gained back-to-back Clarkson Cups since Les Canadiennes have been known as the Montréal Stars, however that gained’t discourage the Thunder. 

Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays

Key Additions

There’s now 1 CWHL team in China as a substitute of 2. Bob Deraney, who spent just about 2 a long time as the pinnacle trainer of Providence College’s girls’s team, is Shenzhen’s head trainer. Rob Morgan, who coached the Vanke Rays remaining season, is the team’s normal supervisor.

Morgan introduced again world players including Alex Carpenter, Noora Räty, Hanna Bunton and Stephanie Anderson, and added newcomer Hannah Miller. It’s necessary to notice that Räty, the 2018 CWHL Goaltender of the Year, doesn’t depend towards the cap on world players as a result of she’s a goaltender.

The different new faces on Shenzhen’s membership are Michelle Ng and former Princeton goaltender Kimberly Newell. Both players have Chinese heritage and are anticipated to be within the combine for China’s nationwide team for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Key Departures

The merger of the CWHL’s 2 groups in China resulted within the departure of a wealth of North American skill. Without a doubt, 2018 MVP Kelli Stack was once the most important title on that record. Stack, a snub from Team USA’s Olympic roster, made a observation to USA Hockey and the arena by means of placing Kunlun Red Star on her again remaining year. Shenzhen is hoping that Carpenter can assist change what she dropped at the team each off and on the ice.

Also long gone from remaining year’s golf equipment in China are Hickel, Emily Janiga, Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Shiann Darkangelo, and Taylor Marchin.

Rookie to Watch

The largest weak spot for each the Red Star and the Rays remaining season was once defensive intensity, which is why 2018 moment round pick out Leah Lum will likely be a super are compatible for KRS.

During her collegiate occupation at UConn, Lum proved that she’s able to enjoying each ahead and protection – however Deraney will most likely need her at the blue line as a cellular offensive defender. She piled up 30 issues in 39 games as a senior and scored 18 goals right through her junior season. Because of her Chinese heritage, Lum won’t depend towards Shenzhen’s cap of world players.


Shenzhen is, unsurprisingly, an enigma coming into the 2018-19 season. The base line is that we just don’t know sufficient about how Deraney goes to make use of his Chinese-born players and the way Shenzhen will glance with out Stack and Hickel spearheading its offense. So, can a Chinese CWHL team go back to the Clarkson Cup Final for a second-straight year? The odds are indubitably towards them, however with Räty between the pipes, the rest is imaginable. 

Toronto Furies

Key Additions

The Furies’ new normal supervisor Sami Jo Small did an excellent task finding and recruiting skill for Toronto’s 2018-19 roster. Small added workhorse goaltender Elaine Chuli and celebrity ahead Shiann Darkangelo, who scored 10 goals with Kunlun Red Star remaining season, in loose company.

“Shiann is going to be a player every other team in the CWHL is going to need to account for when they play us next season,” Sami Jo Small mentioned in a team press free up. “We are trying to build a well-rounded team and Shiann offers exactly what we were looking to add to our lineup as a big body in front of the opposing net and aggressive play from end-to-end.”

The Furies additionally had an excellent draft class this year, led by means of Olympian Sarah Nurse, Clarkson University goaltender Shea Tiley, and RMU celebrity Brittany Howard.

Small additionally introduced in a brand new head trainer, Courtney Kessel (nee Bouchard), and Ken Dufton to function trainer guide. 

Key Departures

The addition of all of the ones novices resulted in different departures for the Furies. The maximum noteworthy exits are Jenna Dingeldein, who completed 3rd at the team in scoring remaining year; Alexa Aramburu, who’s now with the Metropolitan Riveters (NWHL); and veterans Hayley Williams and Sonja van der Bliek, who’ve each long gone to Europe.

Rookie to Watch

Sarah Nurse, 23, just gained a silver medal with Team Canada at Pyeongchang after an enormous senior season on the University of Wisconsin in 2016-17. Nurse is a two-way celebrity ahead who performs with an infectious power. She nonetheless has some untapped doable in the case of her offensive manufacturing, and there’s an excellent chance that Nurse will to find it enjoying with fellow Canadian Olympian Natalie Spooner.


Toronto’s 6-One victory over Markham within the preseason has Furies’ fanatics understandably excited, however that was once just 1 game and the Thunder have been missing a few of their best possible players. With that being stated, Toronto is sure to be higher than the 9-17-1-One file they completed with remaining year. Their goaltending is younger however very promising, the blue line is skilled and cast, and the offense seems to be much better than it did 1 year in the past. 

Worcester Blades

Key Additions

Not simplest are the Blades in a brand new town, however they even have a new head trainer and a brand new normal supervisor. Paul Kennedy, the former energy skating trainer for Team USA, is Worcester’s new head trainer, changing Kacy Ambroz. Derek Alfama, who maximum not too long ago was once an assistant trainer at Providence College, is the Blades’ latest normal supervisor.

Kennedy and Alfama grew to become to the draft to start the Blades’ rebuild. Worcester has 11 novices, including 2 goalies, on its 2018-19 roster.

Key Departures

No CWHL team had to hang onto the skill it had remaining year than the Blades, however Worcester lost {three} of its best {five} scorers over the offseason as Kate Leary is enjoying in Switzerland with HC Lugano, Michelle Ng signed with the KRS Vanke Rays, and it seems that that Melissa Bizzari has parted techniques with the team. 

Also long gone are backup goaltender Jetta Rackleff, who performs on Team USA’s inline hockey team, and Dru Burns and Taylor Wasylk, who each signed with the NWHL’s Boston Pride.

Rookie to Watch

Lauren Williams was once the first total pick out of the 2018 CWHL Draft. Williams is a shutdown defender with a large 5-foot-10 body. She had 12 issues in her senior season with the Wisconsin Badgers, however shouldn’t be anticipated to give a contribution a lot to Worcester’s offense. She’s going to dam numerous pictures and log numerous mins enjoying in entrance of veteran goaltender Lauren Dahm and fellow rookie Jessica Convery.


The base line is that the Blades’ skill merely doesn’t measure as much as the remainder of the CWHL. Hopefully, the franchise’s relocation to Worcester will assist the team attract some new fanatics. But the ones new fanatics are going to wish to include the persistence that has outlined the Blades’ fan base during the last {three} years. For the fourth directly season, the Blades will likely be rebuilding and on the lookout for consistency each off and on the ice.

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