Free agency rolls on for the NWHL and with it, individual team signings are adding up. Each team save Buffalo has four players signed to it (Buffalo currently only has a goaltender signed) and the team’s respective GMs are neck-and-neck in the player acquisition race.
But as they add numbers and depth to the roster, where do the GMs imagine these players contributing to the team? What pairings and line combinations are the most likely to stun the opposing team? In this series, that will continue throughout the summer with additional signings, we look at where these athletes will fit on the ice and with their teammates.
New York Riveters
Former Quinnipiac University players are proving popular among the NWHL; Morgan Fritz-Ward is the third QU athlete to sign with an NWHL team.
Oh hey, Morgan @fritz_ward! Welcome back to the twitter game and the Riveters! Cellys all around!! pic.twitter.com/mg9DxmJsyL
— New York Riveters (@NYRiveters) July 2, 2015
And no wonder the Riveters signed her.
Fritz-Ward captained the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and had a career year on the Bobcats, earning four goals and a career-high 15 assists for 19 points. She was named team MVP at the annual awards banquet and posted a personal high of +17 for her senior year.
She reads the ice extremely well and makes good use of her teammates. Her passing is strong and her footspeed is nothing to sneer at, as you can see below in this two-on-one breakaway engineered by Fritz-Ward.
But her true strengths lie in her defensive responsibility and leadership on the ice.
Per the Quinnipiac University press release:
Fritz-Ward also possessed an excellent shot-blocking ability as she blocked 30 shots, which was good for fifth on the team and first among Quinnipiac forwards. Her 30 blocked shots were also 13th among ECAC Hockey forwards. In the past two seasons, Fritz-Ward has blocked an impressive 61 shots.
With Fritz-Ward onboard the Riveters will have a good complement to Erika Lawler, who will likely sign with New York before the summer is out. Lawler is a speedy skater with strong scoring abilities; Fritz-Ward’s passing and and speed will be a good match, allowing Lawler to stretch herself on the ice.
“Erika is the perfect blend of hockey talent and experience that the NWHL needs to establish a strong product and organization,” league commissioner and NYR GM Dani Rylan said in early May. “Her on-and-off ice contributions will be enormous.”
Lawler has not yet signed with any NWHL team, but given that she appeared at the New York training camp (and only the New York training camp) spoke at the NWHL’s launch party as the player representative, and will serve as the players’ union president, it seems only a matter of time before her signing is announced.
The Kiira Dosdall signing begins to add depth to New York’s blue line, which was completely untouched before June 30.
Dosdall brings an offensive mentality to her defensive game. Her senior year at Cornell the blueliner scored 24 points in 36 games and was nominated for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given to the top women’s ice hockey player in Division I of the NCAA annually.
She finished her college career with 63 points over 124 games and remains Cornell’s second all-time leading scorer among defensemen.
Like other women hockey players serious about their future on the ice, Dosdall moved to Europe to play hockey professionally after graduating from Cornell in 2009. She played four years with the Vienna Sabres in Austria and became the first player to be named to the EWHL All-Star team, four years in a row. She helped the Sabres win four Austrian titles and three European League titles. However, after four years she left Austria for the U.S. and played the 2013-2014 season with the CWHL’s Boston Blades while coaching at the Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
While on the Blades Dosdall posted 0 points during the 21 regular season games, finishing with a +9, and earned one assist in four postseason games. She will be playing alongside Janine Weber on the Riveters, another former Blades player, but whose tenure on the Blades did not overlap with Dosdall’s.
However, Weber and Dosdall did play on the Vienna Sabres at the same time, and even roomed together.
Dosdall is a right-handed defender who will benefit her team at the blue line with soft hands and great outlet passing. She’s patient on the puck, and at 5’10” uses her long reach to her advantage against opposing players. She’s not afraid to battle for the puck, but if there’s a more efficient way of winning it back, she will take it.
Dosdall has a great moment around 1:35 in the video below. She is no. 67 in yellow.
While we cannot yet speculate on who Dosdall will be paired with, as she is the first defender to sign with New York, she is a strong addition to their blue line, and her previous history with Janine Weber will surely help the teams chemistry along.