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The Pride and their support staff after winning the Isobel Cup. NWHL Buffalo Beauts vs Boston Pride, Isobel Cup Finals, March 11-12, 2016, Newark, New Jersey. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini
NWHL

Meagan Mangene signing clarifies Whale’s defense

Meagan Mangene, a former practice player out of Boston, has signed a one-year, $12,000 contract with the Connecticut Whale for the 2016-17, the NWHL announced Thursday afternoon, rounding out the Connecticut Whale’s defense and adding experience to the blue line. Mangene, however, does not bring the offensive power the Whale needs on defense.

Mangene, however, does not bring the offensive power the Whale needs on defense.

The Whale needs players who are strong on transitions and able to set its forwards up for success. Mangene fits that bill exactly; she is the quintessential team player. She has also proven that she can step up and take a forward role should the team need an assist in that area –– as a sophomore at Boston College Mangene transitioned to a center role halfway through the season to help her team out, although the numbers show that scoring is not her forte.

“The Whale coaching staff is excited to add Meagan Mangene to our lineup,” said Connecticut’s head coach, Heather Linstad. “She is a versatile player who can play defense or forward. She sees the ice very well and makes smart decisions with the puck.”

Mangene played in seven games with the Boston Pride as a practice player last season, routinely stepping in for Olympic player Kacey Bellamy when she encountered coaching conflicts. Per Carolyn Wilke’s advanced analytics data, which can be accessed here, Mangene posted a positive even-strength Corsi-For percentage at 59.71, demonstrating that she had a positive impact on the ice, shutting down shooting lanes and scoring opportunities for her opponents.

It bears mentioning that her Corsi-For was one of the lowest on the team but the sporadic nature of her playing schedule likely contributed to that, as well as the fact that a large number of her teammates are national team players and Olympians, who typically play at a higher level than those around them.

Mangene’s style of play is similar to that of Jordan Brickner, who re-signed with Connecticut in mid-July. While Brickner tends to be more of a stay-at-home defenseman than Mangene, both see the ice well, anticipate plays and outlet passes and cover their defensive zone responsibly. Brickner has the edge on assists, though, notching 12 over the 18 games she played.

Mangene registered only one assist over the seven games in which she took the ice, in part likely due to the more defensive-minded role she was asked to play on the top pairing. That, however, is not a strong showing for the Whale, a team that has only signed one true offensive defender to its set of five.

Connecticut may find that difficult to overcome, given its competition. New York has emphasized signing offensive defenders and Boston has already re-signed Blake Bolden, a depth defender on the Pride who drove a lot of offensive pressure for her team. Combined with its presumptive re-signing of Kacey Bellamy and Gigi Marvin as well, and Buffalo’s of Emily Pfalzer and Megan Bozek, Connecticut could find itself feeling the pressure when it comes to goals from the blue line.

Mangene may be asked to step up her offensive game for the Whale.

Mangene’s undergraduate career was spent at BC, where she served as co-captain her senior year and assistant captain the year before. Mangene earned a total of 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) over 107 games, shining most as a playmaker. She ended her collegiate play ranked sixth all-time among BC defenseman with 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) and tied for ninth at BC with a career plus-minus of plus-55. She will join recent BC graduate and defender Kaliya Johnson on Connecticut’s blue line.

Mangene is the second practice player from the NWHL’s inaugural season to earn a salaried spot in 2016-2017 but this doesn’t appear to be a trend; the other practice player picked up for a roster position was former national team player, Kelley Steadman, who had asked to be a practice player in 2015-2016. Although Mangene did not request the practice player slot, had she played anywhere other than Boston she likely would have been offered a contract.

“Last season was an amazing experience, and I am very thankful to have been a part of the Boston Pride,” said Mangene. “I am excited to transition into a bigger role with the Whale and am looking forward to the second season of the NWHL.”

Meagan Mangene signing clarifies Whale’s defense
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