Shakeups coming in the NWHL? — What I learned from attending three free agent camps — Interview with Elena Orlando

The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, July 9, 2021

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Shakeups coming in the NWHL?

The Connecticut Whale and Metropolitan Riveters both held free agent camps last week. Across three camps, Riveters defender Rebecca Morse attended all three including one at Danbury Ice Arena (the home ice of the Whale in 2019-20).

Additionally, during the 2021 NWHL Draft Tuesday night, Riveters general manager Anya Packer and head coach Ivo Mocek mentioned the club will be revitalizing their defense. In fact, the Riveters selected only defenders with their four picks in the draft.

“We grabbed a great corp of D. I think a big part of out success is going to be that we’ll have a deep team,” said Packer. Mocek added the goal was to “refresh” the defensive group. He added, “We really wanted to bring more energy to the defensive group.”

In the last two seasons, the Riveters allowed a league-low 113 shots against, per Their Hockey Counts. In the last full season, only the Whale and Buffalo Beauts allowed more shots than their 822 SA.

The Riveters will be without Saroya Tinker, who signed with Toronto. They will also be without Czech national team player Sam Kolowrat, who signed with SDHL team Brynäs IF. Mike Murphy asked Mocek about Kolowrat and how he will replace her. Here is what Mocek had to say:

“Nobody knew what to expect when she signed nobody knew what to expect. But pretty much since the very first practice, all the players on our team saw that she was going to be an asset on our team, which she was …

“It hurts not having her back, but with some of the signings we will announce soon, I’m confident we will replace her.”

As of now, the Riveters have only signed founding team member Madison Packer. Assuming all their picks do sign with the team, how many more spots on D does that leave for the Riveters?

Teams traditionally carry 8 defenders for a 22-player roster. Of course, the infamous Goalie-gate in Season 4 saw the Riveters carry four goaltenders at one point. I’ll see if I can get any updates from the league about rosters ahead of Season 7.

I asked Moose what her plans are for the upcoming season. Is she planning to return? Has she been asked to return? Moose said, “I’m still keeping my options open for now.”

Scroll down to see who else is keeping their options open.

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UConn opens 2021-22 season against Long Island University.

NCAA stars discuss returning for an additional year.

A solid recap of NWHL news you may have missed.

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Five at The IX: Elena Orlando

I spoke with Connecticut Whale alternate captain Elena Orlando after a Free Agent camp hosted by the Whale at Danbury Ice Arena.

When is the last time you hit the ice in a competitive setting?

Probably our last game. I mean, I’ve been playing like men’s league and getting on the ice with like Pickles (Emma Vlasic) and other people. But you know, in like a real like high tempo like go-go-go kind of practice? More like skates probably been since our last game.

Some people here you’re familiar with, either from Connecticut or from other places throughout the league, and then you’ve got some people that are vying for positions whether with Connecticut or elsewhere. What do you feel about the vibe, the pace?

Coach Jeffery ran a great practice and everything like that tempo was go-go-go as you could see puck movement was great. It was great to get back out there and everyone seemed to be on the same page. It was nice to get some some touches back in and everything like that and be in a competitive atmosphere with that.

What are your plans for Season 7?

I’m excited for the season no matter where you know, where I end up. But yeah, I think it’s just some thoughts. I’m just trying to get some feelers out there and see how see how things are looking.

So is that a definite back for Season 7 but not with the Whale, or?

I can’t show you my hand (laughs) … TBD

Okay, we’ll leave it there. You’ve been in the league since the beginning and with the Whale for five seasons. As you reflect on the beginning and seeing both your former team (Riveters) and the Whale now are privately owned, what do you make of how the NWHL has evolved?

It almost makes me speechless because it’s just crazy. Where we were season one, seeing the growth and seeing the ups & downs – when they announced the ownership group for the Whale it was like, we made it like, we’re here.

It’s just another step towards making the league even bigger and it’s exciting. We got great ownership group in place, we got a new GM, who really knows what they’re doing and everything. So, it’s a great steps towards the future. And same with the Rivs!

Elena Orlando remains unsigned for Season 7

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Written by Erica L. Ayala