Clarkson Cup OT hero Weber becomes first NWHL player, joins New York Riveters

Jared Clinton
Janine Weber suited up for the NCAA's Providence College during her college playing days. (via Providence College Women's Hockey/YouTube)

History was made Thursday as Janine Weber became the first free agent to sign a contract with the National Women’s Hockey League, inking a one-year contract with the New York Riveters.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Weber, alongside Riveters GM and league commissioner Dani Rylan, announced that the former CWHL player, who is only months removed from scoring the Clarkson Cup clinching goal in overtime, had agreed to a deal that sees her become the first signee for the league. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Rylan said the specifics of the contract would be released following the free agency period.

“When I first heard about the league, I was hoping to be able to join,” Weber said. “I’m very happy to sign a contract with the Riveters since it’s very exciting to be living and playing in New York City.” Read more

Finnish netminder to compete in both men’s and women’s league next season

Jared Clinton
Meeri Raisanen (via LeijonatTV/YouTube)

Meeri Raisanen will become the most interesting woman in professional hockey next season. The 25-year-old Finnish netminder has signed a deal that will allow her to play in both men’s and women’s competition for the 2015-16 campaign.

Raisanen announced via her Twitter and Instagram accounts Tuesday evening that she has come to terms with a third-division team in Finland, D-Kiekko, and JYP Jyvaskyla’s women’s club to play between the pipes for both teams.

“An athlete lives for new challenges and progressing from ups and downs during their career,” wrote Raisanen. “This is just what I needed right now. Want to say huge thank you to the people who have believed me, coached me and been there no matter what. Without you I wouldn’t be here!” Read more

NWHL holds inaugural draft lottery, New York Riveters land top pick

Jared Clinton
NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan at the league's first draft lottery. (via NWHL/Vimeo)

Days before the spotlight shifts to the 53rd NHL draft in Florida and Connor McDavid becomes the center of attention, the NWHL will be holding a draft of its own to determine who will make history as the league’s first ever draft selection.

Before draft day arrives, however, the league needed to determine which of its four clubs would be selecting first in the first NWHL draft, which is to be held June 20 in Boston. Following a somewhat old-school drawing of pucks out of a helmet, the New York Riveters landed the first overall pick. Read more

Manon Rheaume’s life story set to hit the big screen

Manon Rheaume (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

TAMPA – Just the other day, Manon Rheaume went to get the oil changed on her car at a garage near her home in suburban Detroit. While she sat in the waiting room, one of the grease monkeys came out from the back with the work order in his hand. “He was looking at the name and he looked at me and said, ‘Are you the hockey player?’ ” Rheaume said. “He was like, ‘I used to have a poster of you on my wall.’ And I was thinking, ‘This is weird, you know?’ ”

Weird perhaps, but still gratifying for the first and only woman to ever appear in an NHL pre-season game. Rheaume’s world changed forever after she stopped seven of the nine shots she faced Sept. 23, 1992 for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues. She went on to play for eight different men’s teams in four minor leagues over the years, along with a team in Austria. She founded a foundation, worked in hockey and is raising two hockey-playing boys, one of whom is on the fast track with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. And starting this winter, filming will begin on Between the Pipes, the story of Rheaume’s life from the time she started playing hockey at five to when she appeared with the Lightning.

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Watch 11-year-old British girl’s incredible, acrobatic shutout

Jared Clinton
Emma Nichols (via Russ Huxted/@Russhux/Twitter)

If the “Like A Girl” campaign that Team USA women’s standout Hilary Knight was promoting earlier this season is looking for a new face, maybe they should give 11-year-old Emma Nichols a call.

As part of the English Ice Hockey Association’s Inter Conference Tournament, Nichols’ South East squad took on Midlands back on May 3 and the young netminder turned away more than 25 shots in the victory. But it’s not that Nichols turned away so many shots. It’s how she stopped the pucks. From sprawling, desperation saves to a few flashes of the leather, Nichols was far and away the star of the game. Check it out: Read more

The Shannon Szabados story: why her rise to men’s pro hockey stardom shouldn’t surprise us

Matt Larkin
Shannon Szabados. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Understanding what goaltender Shannon Szabados has accomplished in the past year is an exercise in mythbusting.

She’s broken new ground for female hockey players. She’s flourished in the all-male Southern Professional Hockey League after joining last year on the heels of her second Olympic gold medal for Canada. It’s tempting, though, to tell her story a certain romantic way: she overcomes insurmountable odds, endures hardship and abuse from teammates and opponents, and she triumphs.

That cliched idea belongs in Mulan. Toss it in the trash. There’s nothing conventional about Shannon Szabados’ journey. Her tale is not one of fighting to survive in the male game. It’s about growing up in the male game and earning a spot she’s worked toward her entire life. This is Szabados’ inspiring true story. And it’s nowhere near finished.

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Canadian Olympian Natalie Spooner has sights set on building a future for next generation of women’s hockey stars

Jared Clinton
Natalie Spooner (Richard Lautens/Getty Images)

When Natalie Spooner was young, her goal was to play in the NHL. Years later, she has done the next best thing: made a career for herself in the CWHL and as a member of Canada’s national team. However, she wants to make sure the next generation of women’s hockey stars can focus solely on being professional athletes.

“There’s more challenges as I’m getting older,” Spooner told thn.com. “When I was young, I was just playing the game. Now, getting older and having to realize where my future is and wondering if I can work, I think that’s the biggest barrier that can hopefully be broken in the future – that having women’s sports, or women’s hockey, be a fulltime job or being a career. Because right now it’s not.” Read more