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Whale elevates assistant coach Lisa Giovanelli to GM

New Whale general manager Lisa Giovanelli is all smiles on the bench after a Connecticut goal earlier this season.

New Whale general manager Lisa Giovanelli is all smiles on the bench after a Connecticut goal earlier this season.

The Connecticut Whale went through three general managers during its initial season in the National Women’s Hockey League.

On Friday, they named assistant coach Lisa Giovanelli as the team’s new general manager. Giovanelli spent the 2015-16 campaign with Connecticut as an assistant coach to Jake Mastel and then to Heather Linstad who took over the head coaching position in late January. She will also continue as the team’s assistant coach.

The Whale led the NWHL for most of the year getting off to an 11-1 start. They eventually finished second to NWHL champion Boston Pride with a 13-5 regular season record. The Whale were eliminated in the league semifinals, dropping a best-of-3 series to the Buffalo Beauts, 2-1.

“I’m very honored and excited to continue as assistant coach and to add the role of GM for this upcoming season,” said Giovanelli. “I’m proud to have been a part of the inaugural season of the NWHL and I truly believe that the best is yet to come for our sport, this league, and for the Connecticut Whale organization.”

A West Haven native, Giovanelli previously was the assistant coach of the Quinnipiac University women’s hockey team from 2002-08. She has won five gold medals, three silver and two bronze playing with the U.S. women’s inline hockey team (roller blades). During her collegiate career with Northeastern, Giovanelli was named MVP of the Beanpot tournament and was named assistant captain her senior year.

“To build our team this year I’m looking for players who have great character and will help us create good team chemistry on and off the ice,” said Giovanelli. “The talent level is going to be even higher than it was this past season, so to be successful we need to be committed to working hard every shift and playing disciplined in every zone.”

Free agency in the NWHL begins May 1 and lasts until July 31. The 2016 Junior Draft is June 18.

Connecticut’s first general manager was Chris Ardito, who resigned in mid-August 2015. Harry Rosenholtz joined the team in mid-August and put together most of the 2015 roster. But he resigned on Christmas Eve 2015. “It’s obvious to those who have watched the Whale play that they’ve got incredible tenacity, toughness and resiliency. He was a part of building that,” NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said when Rosenholtz resigned.

George Speirs, director of Operations in the league, assumed the role on an interim basis. He stepped away from the league and the Whale in early February.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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