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Babstock is only member of Whale named to NWHL team to face U.S. Olympians

Connecticut’s Kelly Babstock is the only Whale player chosen to play on Team NWHL, who will play a two-game series to help the U.S. women’s hockey team prepare for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.

Connecticut Whale forward Kelly Babstock is one of 12 forwards who was named to Team NWHL, which will face the U.S. Olympic Team women’s hockey team in a pair of exhibition games in Florida on January 13 and 15 to prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The team was selected by Hayley Moore, the deputy commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League, in consultation with coaches from all four NWHL clubs. Babstock is the only Connecticut player on the Team NWHL roster.

Babstock, the all-time leader in goals (95), assists (108) and points (203) at Quinnipiac, is one of two Canadians on Team NWHL along with Buffalo’s Jess Jones.

“It was really excited hearing that I got the opportunity to play against Team USA,” said Babstock, who leads Connecticut in scoring with two goals, four assists and six points in seven games. “It should be a good couple games with Team NWHL and we are excited to push the U.S. so they’re ready for their trip to South Korea.”

While Babstock might not be rooting for Team USA in the Olympics Games if they face Canada, she is looking at the bigger picture.

“At the end of the day, it’s all for the growth of the game and I show up and prepare for hockey games not playing just for myself but for something bigger than myself, and that’s the youth,” she said.

Now in her third season in Connecticut, Babstock has scored 19 goals with 22 assists for 41 points in 35 NWHL games.

The other 10 forwards on Team NWHL include Boston’s Jillian Dempsey, Emily Field, Jordan Smelker and Dana Trivigno, who played her rookie season with Connecticut a year ago before signing with Boston as a free agent this year; Buffalo’s Corinne Buie, Jess Jones and Hayley Scamurra and Metropolitan’s Miye D’Oench, Alexa Gruschow, Erika Lawler and Rebecca Russo.

Russo, a 23-year-old forward with the league-leading Riveters, grew up in Westport. She has six goals and two assists for eight points in seven games. Six goals is tied for second in the league. She played at Boston University where the Terriers won three Hockey East titles.

“I’m very excited and honored to be representing the NWHL,” Russo said. “This will be a great experience playing with and against the most-skilled players in the country. Let’s bring the gold back to the USA!”

Boston’s Brittany Ott and Metropolitian’s Katie Fitzgerald were selected as goalies with Buffalo’s Sarah Edney, Boston’s Lexi Bender and Alyssa Gagliardi and Metropolitian’s Courtney Burke, Kiira Dosdall, Kelsey Koeizer, Michelle Picard and Jenny Ryan selected as defenders.

Dosdall, 30, went to Colgate and lives in Fairfield. This is her third season in NWHL.

“These players have all earned their opportunity in the spotlight,” Moore said. “They will be representing the entire NWHL. The depth in our league is so strong that many players were considered for spots on this roster, but we feel confident the group we’ve assembled will offer excellent competition to Team USA.”

Connecticut is currently in fourth place in the league with a 2-5 record with a league-low 11 goals. The Whale resume NWHL play on Sunday, January 7 when they challenge first place Metropolitan (7-0) in Newark, N.J. The next home game is Saturday, January 27 in Stamford at 6 p.m.

The Whale are hosting the South Korean Olympic team in an exhibition tuneup on Saturday at Yale University’s Ingalls Rink at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free. 

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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