During the 2016 offseason Connecticut Whale general manager Lisa Giovanelli signed U.S national team players Dana Trivigno and Haley Skarupa to Connecticut’s roster.
Skarupa and Trivigno are both Boston College graduates – it seems the Whale is BC version 2.0 this season – and have played together on select teams for the U.S. national team as well. Their presence on the Whale is highly beneficial to the team, adding some much-needed scoring power after forward Shiann Darkangelo left Connecticut to sign with the Buffalo Beauts, the team that pushed the Whale out of the postseason last March.
Neither are deterred by the fact that the Whale is now facing off against juggernauts such as the Boston Pride (which boasts not one, not two, not three, but nine current national team members) or the New York Riveters who, while bouncing back from a disappointing first season, have added three national team members, a fast, point-producing defense and USA Hockey darling, Amanda Kessel.
In fact, as a national team player herself, Trivigno pointed to the Pride as the team she most looked forward to beating, explaining she has friends on the team over whom she’d like bragging rights.
Trivigno makes for an interesting addition to the Whale and brings a whole new taste to the way Connecticut’s offense runs, with a solid backcheck and a playmaking ability that can’t go unmentioned.
“I’m an energy player, a player who tries to make an impact every time they’re on the ice. I have a different style of play. I play a little more gritty than others would, but I think that brings a different flavor to the game, I guess,” Trivigno said.
She has high hopes for the Whale’s chemistry, citing the coachability of the players out of Quinnipiac and the return of many skilled players who were rostered with Connecticut last season. The mix of older and younger, she says, is good for the team.
“The one thing I’ve learned is that if you have a team full of the same type of people, it doesn’t work out so well,” said Trivigno.
“Being able to get experience for the older players, if the younger players bring in a little bit of energy, new strategies or whatever it might be, the combination of the both is going to be very helpful for us.”
Skarupa sees the Whale coming together quickly and attributes that to the open-mindedness players had in the first handful of practices, as well as the familiarity a number of players had with each other from former teams, leagues and conferences.
“It’s been so much fun, the first couple practices,” Skarupa said. “I’m surprised by how well most of us know each other, just from playing together [or against each other] on previous teams. I think we’re starting to understand how to play with each other a lot quicker than I expected.”
“There’s a large core group from Quinnipiac and another large core group from BC,” said Skarupa, “And I think we’ve done a good job of melding those two groups together quickly to become an even larger core for the Whale.
“The [Quinnipiac graduates] are very smart players,” she added. “They have good instincts and they’re easy to play with. They seem very coachable; they listen very well. Maybe that comes from discipline or whatever, but they seem like they’ll be very easy to play with and be on the same page communication-wise.
“Whenever we played them [at BC] it was such a good, close game. It’s a treat to play with them now.”
The best perk of the job, however, might just be playing with each other again. The pair carpool down from Boston along with defender Kaliya Johnson and former Pride player Meagan Mangene for practices and games. It’s a familiar, comfortable group; all are BC graduates and former teammates.
And although Skarupa and Trivigno are close off the ice, they made it clear that they respect and admire the others’ abilities on the ice itself.
When asked who each thought the most dangerous player on the team might be, neither of them went for the obvious choice. Or perhaps they did.
“The most dangerous player…” Trivigno echoed, thinking it over. “I feel as though…Kelli Stack obviously has a lot of skill and is a great player but Haley Skarupa has a knack for scoring,” Trivigno said. “I’ve played with her at BC these past four years and she never ceased to amaze me with the different ways she could score. Scoring big goals in overtime, stuff like that. I think Haley’s definitely someone to look out for.”
Skarupa, predictably, pointed right at Trivigno.
“I feel like there’s a couple, but obviously, Dana. I don’t know if she’s considered a top name, but,” Skarupa trailed off. “People just think she’s a gritty center who’s very defensively sound but she also creates a ton of offense which I think sometimes can be taken for granted, what she does on the offensive end. I think she’s definitely someone to look out for.”