STAMFORD, July 10 – The Connecticut Whale have announced their first two signings for the upcoming National Women’s Hockey League season.
The Whale have signed Emily Fluke, the team’s leading scorer in 2018, and defender Rachael Ade. Fluke had four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 16 games to lead Connecticut.
Free agency signings began on June 1. Each NWHL player signs a one-year contract.
One of Connecticut’s veteran players – Kelly Babstock, who played with the Whale for three seasons, signed a free agent deal with the Buffalo Beauts in June. A two-time NWHL All-Star, Babstock is the Whale’s all-time leader in goals (23), assists (27) and points (50).
Fluke, who attended Loomis Chaffee in Windsor, played in college at Middlebury where she earned first team All-American honors in her senior year (2015) and was the Division II/III women’s player of the year. She had 54 goals in her collegiate career.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be playing in the NWHL and for the Connecticut Whale again,” said Fluke. “I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to play in Season 3 and knew as soon as it ended that I wanted to play another season. Being able to share this journey with our incredible fans, teammates, coaches, and my family make it all the more special and I can’t wait to be back on the ice with the team. The NWHL is filled with incredibly talented players and I’m looking forward to competing at a high level for a second season.”
Ade also made a strong impression as a rookie last season, playing solid defense while contributing 2 assists over 16 games. Ade received the NWHL Foundation Award, which goes to the players that most actively apply the core values of hockey to her community.
Originally from Davenport, Fla., Ade later developed her game in the Boston Shamrocks youth program before playing collegiately at the University of Vermont. Over four college seasons, the defender had 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 points in 143 games.
“I’m very excited to be back with the Whale again this season, and I am looking forward to what this new season will bring for both our team, the league and women’s hockey in general. The addition of the new team in Minnesota, and some of the signings that have already happened, has really set a great tone for this year, and it also presents a lot of opportunities.”
The Whale are looking to improve on a 3-11-2 record, a campaign that saw Connecticut set new league records for fewest wins and goals (26) in a season.
They will have to do it without Babstock, who was a steadying influence on the Whale for the past three seasons. She had four goals and five assists for nine points in 2018 but had a career-high 10 goals and nine assists in the 2017 campaign. Babstock had a team-leading 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) in the first year of the league in 2016.
She also played four years at Quinnipiac University scoring 95 goals and 203 points in 147 games with the Bobcats.
“It has been a great eight years in Connecticut and Connecticut will also be a second home to me,” Babstock said on her Instragram account. “It has been a great ride being a part of the pod (Whale) since the inaugural season and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
“Thank you to my teammates and coaches for the many unforgettable memories, to the amazing fans for the constant support and to the friends that I made along the way that I will cherish forever,” she said.