Monday afternoon the first woman to captain the Connecticut Whale, Jessica Koizumi, announced her retirement from the world of professional women’s hockey via an NWHL press release. Koizumi will instead take a position as associate coach at the Ohio State University, a program that recently hired a new head coach after former head coach and U.S. Olympian Jenny Potter was fired for apparent recruiting violations, in addition to a several transfers and a losing season.
Koizumi was also the first player to score a regular-season goal in the NWHL; the stick she scored that goal with was requested by the Hockey Hall of Fame for an exhibition.
“This was the hardest career decision I have had to make — to retire from playing professionally in the NWHL in what I thought would be my last season,” Koizumi wrote in a letter announcing her retirement. “Being a part of the first paid professional league in North America (NWHL) last season is something I didn’t believe would happen in my lifetime. I hope the league sustains for generations to come because it was a dream come true… I am looking forward to the next chapter of giving back to the game from a different vantage point.”
Koizumi spoke to Today’s Slapshot in June about likely retirement within a season or two; this opportunity as a full-time associate coach of a DI school meant she had to move up that timeline.
Former New York Riveter, Elena Orlando, who had been listed with the Whale as a combination forward/defense practice player, will replace Koizumi on the full-time roster with a one-year, $12,000 contract. Koizumi was hired for $14,000 for the season, giving the Whale a little more room against the $270,000 salary cap in case of any more roster changes.
As a full-time defender for New York, Orlando earned one assist and 17 penalty minutes for the Riveters last season.
Juana Baribeau (F) has also been signed by the Whale as a practice player. Baribeau is from Amos, Quebec and scored 52 goals and had 56 assists during her 150 game college career at Clarkson.