Women's Hockey League Expands to Minnesota, Adds Whitecaps

NWHL expansion gives league five teams

Al Schoch
May 15, 2018 - 8:56 am

Sloan Martin, WCCO Radio

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The National Women's Hockey League, which has been around since 2015, Tuesday added the Minnesota Whitecaps for its next season.  

League Founder and Commissioner Dani Rylan was on hand for the announcement at Herbies on the Park in the old Saint Paul Club building. She said the league wanted to be in Minnesota from the start, and now that they have a franchise, she expects it to draw some the game's best players, especially considering that almost a fifth of all girls playing hockey in the US come from Minnesota, and more than two dozen pro-ready players graduate each year from the state's five Division I programs.

"I think this is going to be an incredibly desirable market for a lot of players," she said. "This will be an incredibly deep team."

Two-time state championship-winning head coach Sami Reber with Edina says she’s excited her players get to see the highest level of women’s hockey up close – and know that it’s a viable option for them close to home.

“For them to be able to learn about the league more and have that opportunity after college to come back and play if they want to come back to Minnesota is really, really special," she said. 

Original member and team captain Winny Brodt-Brown says this is a big moment for girls and women’s hockey.

“The Whitecaps were founded because back in the day when we were graduating, a girl shouldn’t have to quit a sport at 22 for all the years and time and sweat they put into a game that they love and a kid hasn’t hit their potential. I think we’re going to see the game even get better because all these college kids now have a bigger reason to play.”

The Whitecaps have been playing games since 2004, but are without a league after the Western Women's Hockey League dissolved in 2011. The team also does not have a home rink.

The NWHL has had four teams, the Boston Pride, the Buffalo Beauts, the Connecticut Whale, and the Metropolitan Riveters. According to the NWHL website, their players were the first women to be aid a salary to play hockey. Players in the most recent season earned between 5 and 7-thousand dollars. Down from the first year totals between 10 and 26-thousand.

The Whitecaps have a formidable roster, including six former Olympians.