By Erica Ayala
It’s that time again! The Connecticut Whale will represent the Nutmeg State in their fifth season. The organization has made some offseason changes – new home arena, new head coach, and a new (but familiar) general manager – and the team plays its home opener on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 2:30 p.m. against Buffalo at Danbury Arena. Tickets are just $20 and available now at www.NWHL.zone/tickets) and at the venue on the day of the game.
I’ve just received word that the team has selected its captains. All three are original NWHLers and very deserving. Congratulations go out to captain Shannon Doyle, and assistants Elena Orlando and Jordan Brickner!
Here’s a quick Whale Watching Guide ahead of the home opener Saturday afternoon in Danbury.
24 Sarah Hughson – 15 Emma Vlasic – 94 Grace Klienbach
9 Kaycie Anderson – 21 Sarah Schwenzfeier – 7 Jane Morrisette
2 Madelyn Evangelous – 16 Hanna Beattie – 12 Kendra Broad
6 Shannon Doyle / 14 Elena Orlando
26 Jordan Brickner / 4 Taylor Marchin
8 Erin Hall
31 Sonjia Shelly
You may have noticed a new player. The Elmira College alumna and Massachusetts native Maddie Evangelous is signing a tryout contract with the Whale and making her NWHL on Saturday. Evangelous made the 2015-16 ECAC West All-Rookie Team after scoring 13 goals and earning 10 assists in 26 games as a freshman. She led the Soaring Eagles in scoring as a sophomore in 2016-17 and was selected to the ECAC West All-Academic Team. In 2018-19, she set a career high with 16 goals and 16 assists in 28 games and was named to the All-UCHC Second Team.
Yale alumna and former Riveters forward Bray Ketchum resurges from retirement to lead the Whale franchise. As a founding NWHL player, Ketchum spent three seasons battling against the Whale and hoisted the Isobel Cup in 2018 with the Metropolitan Riveters.
Now, she hopes to bring her winning ways to the Whale. Connecticut has finished last in the league for three straight seasons, but hopes to turn the tide in their favor.
To lead the charge, Ketchum brought in new head coach Colton Orr. The 12-year NHL forward takes over for Ryan Equale. Laura Brennan returns behind the bench for a second season and her third as part of the Whale franchise.
Last season, the Beauts finished in second place and competed in their third consecutive Isobel Cup Final, but fell 2-1 to the Minnesota Whitecaps in overtime. With a short preseason and lots of new faces, both teams will look to establish their team identity in the season opening match. The Beauts earned a 2-1 victory over Brock University with goals from Buie and rookie Iveta Klimášová. Newcomer to The Pod Emma Vlasic assisted Sarah Schwenzfeier for Connecticut’s lone goal against UConn in a 4-1 preseason loss.
Erica L. Ayala is the broadcast analyst for the Connecticut Whale. Catch Erica and the Whale all season long on the NWHL on Twitch.
Photo Credit: Ashley Intile