Hockey Headlines

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The New Kids

Today was a big day for the CWHL as the five teams added some youngsters who they believe will carry them to the Clarkson Cup at some point during their careers. There were some big names who were available, but the CWHL Draft isn't like your NHL Entry Draft. The CWHL allows for the ladies who have registered to be drafted to pick two franchises to whom they can be drafted. The reason for this is to allow the women to pursue job opportunities in these cities so that they may make a living. In saying that, let's take a look at who went where in the CWHL Draft!

Record: 21-3-0, lost in Clarkson Cup Final.
Needs: Not a lot.

Les Canadiennes were the toast of the league last season, boasting the top four scorers in the league and the top goaltender. While they did fall short in the Clarkson Cup Final against the Calgary Inferno, Les Canadiennes are deep and talented in almost every position.

Sarah Lefort - LW - Boston University (NCAA)
Cassandra Poudrier - D - Cornell University (NCAA)
Ariane Barker - RW - University of Montreal (CIS)
Brittany Fouracres - D - McGill University (CIS)
Marion Allemoz - C - University of Montreal (CIS)
Taylor Hough - G - McGill University (CIS)
Melanie Desrochers - D - St. Lawrence University (NCAA)
Amanda Makela - G - Buffalo Beauts (NWHL)
Nachi Fujimoto - D - Sapporo International University (Japan)

If Les Canadiennes needed more depth, they got it with this draft class. Sarah Lefort is a dynamic scoring threat and certainly put up incredible numbers in the NCAA over her four years. Despite being drafted by the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts, the former captain of Canada's U22 team decided to stay in Canada and play the game. Les Canadiennes will be much better for that decision. Lefort broke Marie-Philip Poulin's scoring record at BU, and will mostly be reunited with her former Terriers teammate.

Poudrier was captain at Cornell, and has steadily become a solid contributor at both ends of the ice. Barker and Allemoz played together with the Carabins, helping them to a CIS Championship this past season. Allemoz also captains the French national team, so Les Canadiennes get another excellent leader. Brittany Fouracres led McGill's blue line in scoring, and Taylor Hough was one of the better goaltenders in the nation last year. Desrochers led St. Lawrence in scoring on the back-end, Makela moves from a backup with the Buffalo Beauts to a competition for ice-time with the Canadiennes, and Fujimoto comes over from Japan where she played with Japan U18 National Team and is looking to add experience prior to the 2018 Olympic Games.

Montreal will definitely be the team to beat on the ice in the CWHL this season with the additions they made today. While they may not post the same incredible record as last season, I expect them to be at the top of the standings once the playoffs roll around again in 2016-17.

Record: 16-6-2, won Clarkson Cup.
Needs: Not a lot.

Calgary really came on strong towards the end of the season. All facets of their game seemed to rise to the occasion with the start of the playoffs. While they were pushed by the Brampton Thunder, the Inferno really turned it on in the Clarkson Cup Final to bring home their first championship.

Emerance Maschmeyer - G - Harvard University (NCAA)
Katelyn Gosling - D - Western University (CIS)
Iya Gavrilova - C - University of Calgary (CIS)
Misty Seastrom - D - Calgary Senior Women's Hockey (SAWHA)
Akane Hosoyamada - D - Syracuse University (NCAA)
Cara Schlitz - D - Peace River Sharks (PCFHL)
Caitlin Zevola - F - Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
Claudia Tellez - F - Mexico National Team (IIHF)
Debbie Beaudoin - F - Vancouver Griffins (NWHL)
Rina Takeda - D - Mikage Gretz (Japan)
Stephanie Nehring - G - University of Guelph (CIS)
Toni Ross - G - University of Regina (CIS)

The Inferno are the defending Clarkson Cup champions, so finding holes in their lineup isn't easy. However, they drafted the best goaltender and arguably the best player in the draft in Emerance Maschmeyer to pair with Delayne Brian. In other words, Calgary has a helluva pair of netminders. Toss in two outstanding CIS netminders in Nehring and Ross to push for playing time, and Calgary might have the league's best goaltending as a whole.

The Inferno also drafted arguably the best CIS player in Iya Gavrilova, an outstanding defenceman in Katelyn Gosling, and went with a couple of wily veteran players in Misty Seastrom and Debbie Beaudoin. They added international players Claudia Tellez and Rina Takeda who will look to gain experience, and added Alberta-born players Akane Hosoyamada, Cara Schlitz, and Caitlin Zevola for depth. Overall, the champs look strong as they begin their first season as "defending champions", and they should challenge Les Canadiennes for top spot in the league.

Record: 16-7-1, lost to Calgary in semifinal.
Needs: depth scoring.

Brampton came up one point short of hosting a playoff series, and came up one game short of heading to the Clarkson Cup Finals. While there's no consolation in losing to the eventual champions, the depth of the Thunder was tested in the series against Calgary. Despite having two of the top-three netminders in the CWHL in Erica Howe and Liz Knox and balanced scoring, the Thunder will be looking for more scoring.

Laura Stacey - RW - Dartmouth College (NCAA)
Shannon Macaulay - F - Clarkson University (NCAA)
Nicole Brown - LW - Quinnipiac University (NCAA)
Jaimie McDonell - F - Princeton University (NCAA)
Taylor Woods - F - Cornell University (NCAA)
Kristen Barbara - D - York University (CIS)
Darlene Clapham - D - Western University (CIS)
Jessica Hartwick - D - Ryerson University (CIS)
Melissa Wronzberg - F - Ryerson University (CIS)
Emily Grainger - D - University of British Columbia (CIS)
Jetta Rackleff - G - Rochester Institute of Technology (NCAA)
Jessica McAuliffe - D - York University (CIS)
Nicki Robinson - F - University of Saskatchewan (CIS)
Kelly Campbell - G - Western University (CIS)

Scoring needs were addressed in the first three picks that Brampton made. Stacey, Macaulay, and Brown can score, and they'll all challenge for roster spots out of training camp. McDonell and Woods are good depth scoring threats, and Wronzberg and Robinson will be expected to bring a lot of energy to the forward group if they hope to land a roster spot.

Defensively, Barbara, Clapham, Hartwick, and McAuliffe won't wow you with stats or flashy plays, but they are all defensively responsible and provide excellent depth for the Thunder blue line. Grainger has shown flashes of offensive ability in Canada West, but she's also a very responsible defender who makes the safe and smart play more often than not. Kelly Campbell will push Knox and Howe in the crease as she's a former CIS champion while Jetta Rackleff will be a bit of a project, but she has shown the ability to steal games in her collegiate career.

Record: 6-16-2, lost to Montreal in semifinal.
Needs: defence, scoring depth.

The Furies suffered through a rash of injuries to a number of their scoring stars, and those injuries really took a toll on the team's record. In saying that, they have the make-up to much better than a six-win team, and adding some solid defenders and some scoring depth will really improve the Furies' outlook this season.

Renata Fast - D - Clarkson University (NCAA)
Erin Ambrose - D - Clarkson Univeristy (NCAA)
Michela Cava - F - University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
Jenna Dingeldein - F - Mercyhurst University (NCAA)
Danielle Gagne - F - Ohio State University (NCAA)
Erin Zach - C - Rochester Institute of Technology (NCAA)
Vanessa Spataro - LW - St. Cloud State University (NCAA)
Ella Stewart - D - Elmira College (NCAA)
Victoria McKenzie - F - UOIT (CIS)
Carlee Eusepi - D - Clarkson University (NCAA)
Jaclyn Gibson - F - UOIT (CIS)
Nicole Kirchberger - C - Buffalo State College (NCAA)
Jessica Platt - D - Kellis Squad Senior Team (LLHL)
Alessandra Armstrong - G - Ryerson University (CIS)

I'd say Toronto shored up their defence quite nicely by adding three players from Clarkson to their blue line including the dynamic duo of Fast and Ambrose. They'll move the puck and bring speed and defensive responsibility to the Furies' back end, giving the Furies a competent breakout at any moment. Michela Cava is a good depth forward who has the potential to be a first-line player if she continues to work hard, but she'll be another good addition to the Furies lineup. Jenna Dingeldein is a very underrated scoring threat as well, and she could be a breakout star in the CWHL.

The depth that Toronto put together in getting Gagne, Zach, and Spataro also shows that the Furies are building for tomorrow. Those three players are solid contributors now, but should grow into scoring roles with the Furies as they adapt to CWHL play. McKenzie, Gibson, and Kirchberger will provide excellent depth up front while Stewart, Eusepi, and Platt give more defensive depth. Armstrong is an interesting pick with the Furies' final pick, but she provides more depth at the goaltending position.

Record: 1-23-0, missed playoffs.
Needs: Pretty much everything.

A one-win season was the result of the mass departures of the US Women's National Team players to the NWHL, so there are major holes all over the lineup. Goaltender Genevieve Lacasse and defenceman Tara Watchorn are the two stars of the team, but the rest of the lineup is fairly thin. GM Krista Petronick had her work cut out for her, but Boston will rebuild over the next couple of seasons through the draft. They started that rebuild today.

Kayla Tutino - F - Boston University (NCAA)
Chelsey Goldberg - C - Northeastern University (NCAA)
Cassandra Opela - D - University of Connecticut (NCAA)
Meghan Grieves - RW - Boston College (NCAA)
Dakota Woodworth - C - Boston University (NCAA)
Margaret Zimmer - F - University of Connecticut (NCAA)
Alexis Woloschuk - D - Boston University (NCAA)
Sato Kikuchi - D - Nippon Sports Science University (Japan)
Taylor McGee - D - Pennsylvania State University (NCAA)
Melissa Bizzari - F - Boston College (NCAA)
Kate Leary - F - Boston College (NCAA)
Lauren Dahm - G - Clarkson University (NCAA)
Amanda Fontaine - G - Sacred Heart University (NCAA)
Megan Fitzgerald - LW - Hamilton College (NCAA)
Alexandra Karlis - C - UMass-Boston (NCAA)
Jennifer Currie - LW - UMass-Boston (NCAA)
Jacqueline Perez - F - Norwich University (NCAA)
Sydney Collins - F - University of Rhode Island (NCAA)
Kristen Levesque - F - University of Rhode Island (NCAA)
Sarah Quigley - G - Buffalo State University (NCAA)
Deanna Meunier - G - SUNY-Cortland (NCAA)
Wendy Abramenko - F - Charleton University (NCAA)
Stevie Burger - D - Babson College (NCAA)
Marley Selfridge - G - Boston University (NCAA)

If that seems like a ton of players selected, Boston is basically starting from scratch. There's a lot to like in all those picks. Speed, scoring, defensive responsibility, and depth. Boston needs all of that and then some. In saying that, though, they will have some great players to build around as they move forward.

Boston's rebuild will be an all-in game plan where everyone who makes the team next season will be expected to contribute in some way. Tutino should score and could be a star in the making, Grieves will be expected to chip in with some offence and speed, and Zimmer should be able to generate offence off the wing. Opela, Woloschuk, and McGee will provide sound defensive play in the Blades' zone. Overall, this is a good start in getting the Blades back to respectability.

76 women were drafted into the league. Many of them will be stars next season and in the coming seasons. Which pick will have the biggest impact? That will be answered shortly, so make sure you get down to the games and cheer on these women!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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