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NWHL purchases Minnesota Whitecaps, who will join league in this winter

The Connecticut Whale will have a new opponent to face this winter. The National Women’s Hockey League is adding a fifth franchise. The league has purchased the Minnesota Whitecaps franchise.

ST. PAUL, May 15 – The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) has purchased the Minnesota Whitecaps, an independent professional women’s hockey team, for an undisclosed price and the Whitecaps will join the NWHL this fall.

The Whitecaps will be the league’s fifth team along with the Connecticut Whale in Stamford, the Metropolitan Riveters in Newark, N.J., the Buffalo Beauts and the Boston Pride.

“We are ecstatic to welcome Minnesota to the NWHL,” said Dani Rylan, commissioner of the NWHL and founder of the league. “Minnesota is an essential part of women’s hockey in North America. When you consider all of the talented players in this area and the passion this community has for the game, the Whitecaps are going to be incredible on and off the ice. The women’s hockey players of Minnesota are among the best in the world at what they do and now they’ll have an opportunity to play professionally.”

The Whitecaps have been a team since 2004 and played seven seasons in the now defunct Western Women’s Hockey League in Canada. They’ve been an independent franchise since 2011.

Like the Founding Four teams when the NWHL started in 2015, the Minnesota team will be owned initially by the league. Last season, Pegula Sports & Entertainment – the owners of the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills and other local franchises – acquired the Beauts, while the New Jersey Devils formed a strategic alignment with the Riveters.

Among the Whitecaps alumni are legendary American hockey players such as Angela Ruggiero, Julie Chu and Natalie Darwitz. The American team that won their first Olympic gold medal in 20 years last February included Hannah Brandt, Kendall Coyne, Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Alex Rigsby from the Whitecaps.

“It’s an organization full of people that are extremely passionate about women’s hockey and positive role models that young players in the state can look up to,” Brandt said.

The NWHL is thrilled to add a fifth team for their fourth season.

“Expanding to Minnesota, with its rich hockey culture and abundance of elite players, is a thrilling opportunity for the NWHL, its players, coaches and everyone involved to show what we’re capable of,” said Hayley Moore, deputy commissioner in the NWHL and director of Player Development. “It’s a responsibility we take very seriously, and we can’t wait to get started in Minnesota.”

Free agency begins June 1 and teams can begin to sign players at that time.

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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