The Connecticut Whale had a busy final day of free agency as they signed four players to contracts for the 2016-2017 National Women’s Hockey League season to complete their roster.
The Whale began the day with the signing of defenseman, Ivana Bilic to a one year, 14,000-dollar contract. Bilic will replace Shannon Doyle on the roster for Connecticut. Doyle will remain on the practice squad, while pursuing other career opportunities.
Whale general manager, Lisa Giovanelli said, “Ivana is a solid defenseman that can block shots. She is a great addition to our defensive core and will make our blue line even stronger.”
The Coquitlam, British Columbia native played for Bemidji State University in Minnesota, during her collegiate career. In 128 games, she was able to put up 13 goals and 48 assists. She also attended the 2015-2016 Hockey Canada Selection Camp.
The Whale also added Kelli Stack on the final day of free agency as well. Stack’s contract for the 2016-2017 NWHL season, is worth 26,000 for the season.
Whale head coach, Heather Linstad said, “Kelli is a dynamic player with speed and phenomenal hands to match. She is a difference maker in our lineup. Kelli will be counted on to lead the offense and bring continuity to the locker room this season.”
In 17 games with the Whale during the inaugural season, Stack scored eight goals and 14 assists. In Connecticut’s three postseason games last year, she was able to add two goals.
Stack has appeared in five International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and six Four Nations Cups representing USA Hockey. She also played for the “Red, White and Blue” in two under-22 series.
She also represented the United States during the 2010 (Vancouver) and the 2014 (Sochi) Winter Olympics. In 10 games she was able to score four goals and nine assists.
Stack said, “I am excited to be back playing with the Whale, and have high hopes for this group. I am looking forward to this season and our quest for the Isobel Cup.”
With the 1,000-dollar raise from her last season’s salary, she joins fellow US Olympian, and New York Riveters forward, Amanda Kessel as the highest paid players in the NWHL.
The Whale also announced on Sunday, that they reached agreements with two 2015 NWHL Draft picks, Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno. Both players agreed to 20,000-dollar contracts for the 2016-2017 season.
Linstad said, “Skarupa is a strong skater, with excellent hands and a knack for scoring, and Trivigno is a true hockey player with great knowledge and vision for the game. Both players are a fantastic addition to our forward group, and will be relied upon to make things happen on the ice.”
Skarupa said, “I am so excited to be a part of the NWHL and cannot wait to represent the Connecticut Whale. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. Fins up!”
The Rockville, Maryland native received a high school scholar athlete award for excelling in the classroom and an athletic setting. In the spring of 2013, she made the Boston College Honor Roll.
She has also worked with Monumental Sports Network and Playworks DC, to paint a new mural at an elementary school in Washington, DC. Skarupa helped kids in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, learn the basics of hockey and taught them how to play.
She was also part of the Newton Special Athletes program, helping the mentally and physically disabled learn to skate.
Trivigno said, “I couldn’t be more excited joining the NWHL and playing for the Connecticut Whale. Thank you to everyone involved in the process. Go Whale!”
The Seatauket, New York native attended Shattuck St. Mary, in Faribault, Minnesota before moving on to Boston College to play collegiately.
Skarupa and Trevigno were both teammates at Boston College, Trevigno skated in 148 games for the Eagles, scoring 57 goals and 81 assists, while Skarupa played in 144 games, putting up 115 goals and 129 assists. The two of them also represented the USA in two IIHF World Championships.
The two of them were originally drafted by the Riveters in the inaugural NWHL Draft. Skarupa, the fifth overall pick, was traded to the Whale in exchange for Michelle Picard, while Trivigno, selected 13th was dealt by New York to Connecticut for Hannah Brandt and a 2,000 draft tax credit.
The signings of all four players on Sunday, completes the roster the Whale will put forth during the 2016-2017 NWHL season.