Amanda Kessel’s final NCAA season claimed by concussion

Jared Clinton
Amanda Kessel (Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Amanda Kessel has the potential to be one of the greatest women’s players in the world, but concussion issues that will force her to miss a second straight season and end her NCAA career.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, Kessel, 23, will skip her senior season with the NCAA’s University of Minnesota Gophers. Gophers coach Brad Frost confirmed that Kessel will skip the season to the Herald, saying, “It’s just not worth it for her and her health.”

Kessel has not suited up since playing for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but she hasn’t participated in any of the national team’s events since sustaining the injury. The concussion occurred before the Olympics began, but was cleared to play and posted three goals and six points in five games to finish in a tie for third in tournament scoring. Read more

NWHL turns to fan voting to decide jerseys for 2015-16 season

Jared Clinton
NWHL Flag

With only months remaining until the NWHL hits the ice for its inaugural season, the burgeoning league’s four clubs are taking the league’s aesthetics to a fan vote.

The NWHL has launched fan voting to help select the jerseys for the clubs. Each of the New York Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride have had jerseys designed for them by NWHL fans with hopes that the designs will make it to the ice for the 2015-16 campaign.

For each team, two options are available for voting. Two of the early standouts include the Brooks Freeman designed Riveters and Whale jerseys which do a great job of paying homage to the New York Rangers and Hartford Whalers, the NHL clubs who have put roots down in the respective locales. Take a look: Read more

Hayley Wickenheiser to play for CWHL’s Calgary Inferno in 2015-16

Jared Clinton
Hayley Wickenheiser  (Photo by Phillip Chin/WireImage)

Hayley Wickenheiser is one of the most decorated players in hockey history, but she’s got her eyes set on adding to her resume in 2015-16.

The CWHL announced Tuesday that Wickenheiser, 36, will enter the league’s draft on Aug. 23, and her intention is to suit up for the Calgary Inferno next season. Wickenheiser will add to a lineup that just this past season included the league’s leading scorer, Rebecca Johnston, and fourth-highest scorer, Brittany Esposito. The impact of bringing Wickenheiser to the Inferno reaches further than the score sheet, however.

“Getting a player like (Wickenheiser) is huge; for us it’s like Bobby Hull joining the WHA, or Wayne Gretzky being traded to LA. It’s a game changer,” said Chantal Champagne, GM of the Calgary Inferno. “Players like that are one of a kind and it’s huge, not just for us but for the entire league. It proves that the CWHL is the league to play in.” Read more

Japan’s Nana Fujimoto eyes NWHL spot at international free agent camp

Jared Clinton
Nana Fujimoto (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had invited winger Yushiroh Hirano to prospect camp, while defenseman Ryo Hashimoto was set to attend Columbus Blue Jackets camp. But it’s unlikely either has as good a chance as Nana Fujimoto of making it to the pro level.

Fujimoto, the goaltender for Japan’s national women’s hockey team, is set to attend the NWHL’s upcoming International Team Camp that will take place from July 23 to July 27 in Wilmington and Malboro, Mass. The camp, which will feature free agents from several European countries and a select group of invitees, will give the international talents a chance to make the burgeoning women’s professional league. When it comes to goaltending, Fujimoto has already shown she may have a leg up on her competition.

As the goaltender for Team Japan, Fujimoto competed for her country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and stole the show at the 2015 Women’s World Championships, being named goaltender of the tournament. Read more

NWHL to hold first Canadian-based free agent camps

Jared Clinton
NWHL Flag

While the NHL is engaged in its own signing season, the NWHL, the fledgling women’s league that’s set to kick off in time for the 2015-16 season, is going through talent acquisitions of its own. As part of the NWHL’s free agent period, the league is set to hold its first set of training camps in Canada from July 6-9.

The camps, which begin in Montreal before moving on to Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor, are already filling up, but the league says they’re looking for more players yet and registration remains open at NWHL.co. There’s the possibility, too, that from the camps will come a number of free agent signings, as the league’s four teams are looking to fill out their rosters.

At present, commissioner Dani Rylan, who also happens to be the GM of the New York Riveters, said the camps have around 15 registered attendees per camp, but they’re hoping to boost that to 20 players by the time the July 3 registration closes. Read more

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