Closing out season six with the awards show, the first week of May was relatively calm in the women’s hockey world. Here’s the biggest news as we head into a summer of free-agent signings, potential draft picks, and a rescheduled international tournament.
1. On Ice: 2021 Women’s World Championship Rescheduled for August 20 – August 31, Venue TBD
The 2021 Women’s World Championship was canceled just days before the tournament was set to begin on May 6th after a spike in coronavirus cases caused the host city of Halifax to reverse course. A statement from the International Ice Hockey Federation said a location has yet to be decided, but “The IIHF together with Hockey Canada will next move towards evaluating potential venues for the Women’s World Championship in Canada, with a new host expected to be chosen in the coming weeks.” Immediately following the cancellation, Athletic reporter Sean Shapiro said that the city of Dallas and the Dallas Stars organization reached out about hosting, but it appears that the IIHF is prioritizing keeping it in Canada.
Have been told that DFW and the Stars are working on potentially hosting the women’s world championships that were supposed to be in Halifax but cancelled today. Multiple federations have encouraged plan of finding a fit in Texas like u-18 men’s tournament found in frisco/Plano— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) April 22, 2021
Two of last year’s NWHL players, Tereza Vanišová and Sammy Kolowrat, made the initial rosters for the Czech Republic. The tournament should end shortly before the NWHL preseason typically begins, COVID-19 depending. With free agency now opening before the tournament starts and a new draft class incoming, the list of NWHL players participating in the Women’s World Championship may grow.
2. Off Ice: Buffalo Beauts announce Debra A. Cresanti Memorial Award
The Buffalo Beauts announced in a press release Tuesday morning the creation of an award in honor of dedicated fan Debra Cresanti who passed away in February 2021. Starting next season, the Debra A. Cresanti Memorial Award will be voted on by team captains and awarded to the player most involved with the local community in Western New York. The statement from the Buffalo Beauts describes Cresanti’s impact on the team, with the following quote from captain Taylor Accursi:
“Deb was so much more than a fan of the Beauts. She invested her time into the game and the team she loved. It didn’t matter if the Beauts were playing at home or away, you would look into the stands and Deb would be there. Her energy at practices, games and team events was contagious. She loved women’s hockey, but the Beauts were where her heart was. The Buffalo organization meant a lot to Deb, and Deb meant a lot to this organization. Every time that I’ll put that jersey on, I know Deb will be cheering for us to bring home the Cup. Maybe not in the stands, but with a view with less mesh.”
3. On Ice: St. Cloud State Huskies announce which seniors are returning, drawing attention to potential draft targets
The St. Cloud State Huskies announced that seniors Hannah Bates, Emma Bigham, and Laura Kluge would not take the extra year granted to them because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Journalist Anne Tokarski drew attention to the fact that all three are eligible for the NWHL draft, although that doesn’t guarantee they’ll enter it. Bates, Bigham, and Kluge may choose to join the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, to play overseas, or simply retire.
St. Cloud State’s Hannah Bates, Emma Bigham, and Laura Kluge are electing not to return for their fifth year of eligibility.— Anne Tokarski (@annetokarski) April 30, 2021
Might we see their names called in the NWHL Draft in two months? 👀 https://t.co/RxlxzBIe2f
Minnesota native Emma Bigham announced plans to remain a student at St. Cloud alongside student teaching, finishing out her college career as a forward with 13 points in 82 games. Laura Kluge, the Huskies assistant captain who had 52 points in 99 games, is going back to Germany to focus on training with the national team. Olympic qualifiers for Germany are in November, and shortly after graduating, she played in Germany’s women’s league with Eisbären Juniors Berlin for the playoffs. While only Kluge can say her future plans, it’s likely she’d stay close to home in Europe after the qualifiers. Hannah Bates is also likely to go pro in North America, with her departure statement saying she “will be continuing her education at Wayne State University in her home state of Michigan with exciting opportunities to further her playing career on the horizon.” She had 17 points in 120 games as a stay-at-home defender.
4. Off-Ice: NWHLPA unites with their fellow athletes to speak out against voter suppression
Bills aimed to restrict the right to vote have been advancing around the United States, causing opposition from residents, activists, and now athletes. The NWHLPA is one of many players’ unions that signed a letter stating they “oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” Other involved unions include players from the NBA, NBA G League, NFL, WNBA, MLS, NWSL, PWHPA, as well as the USWNT Players. The NHLPA and MLBPA were not involved, although the MLBPA did successfully get the MLB to move their 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia, where a voter suppression bill was enacted, triggering the move.
5. On-Ice: Potential Free Agency Targets for the Metropolitan Riveters and Minnesota Whitecaps
Toronto Six defender Kristen Barbara was hired for a coaching position with the New Jersey Colonials, per the Founding Four podcast. The New Jersey Colonials employ several members of the Metropolitan Riveters including hockey director Emily Janiga. Barbara is a shutdown defender with a Clarkson Cup Championship under her belt and was one of the first signings for the Toronto Six. While there’s no certainty that Barbara would be interested in signing with the Riveters, her new employment likely has her on general manager Packer’s radar.
An article from Michael Russo in The Athletic about Boston Pride defender Taylor Turnquist mentions her moving back to her home state of Minnesota, alongside her boyfriend Nico Sturm who plays for the Minnesota Wild. Turnquist won the Isobel Cup in her rookie year with the Pride and was the assistant captain at Clarkson University prior, establishing herself as a great transition and all-situation defender. For the breakout-savvy Minnesota Whitecaps, she could be a great fit, and Turnquist expressed her desire in Russo’s article to keep playing professional hockey.
Image courtesy of Michelle Jay, NWHL