On May 15th, 2018, The National Women’s Hockey League officially expanded for the first time! The NWHL added Minnesota as their fifth team, in addition to their original “founding four” teams.

When the league was established in 2015, there were four teams; the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and New York (now Metropolitan) Riveters. Last week, the Minnesota Whitecaps joined the league as the first ever expansion team, bringing the league to a total of five teams. They will begin playing in the NWHL’s fourth season (2018-2019), beginning in October. The announcement was made by Dani Rylan, NWHL Deputy Commissioner, who was joined by the league’s Director of Player Development, Hayley Moore, Governor Mark Dayton, and current co-captain of the Whitecaps, Winny Brodt Brown.

The Minnesota Whitecaps were established in 2004. Brown’s father created the team as a way for his daughter to continue to play hockey after college. She played for the University of Minnesota in college and went on to become a member of the U.S. National Team. The Whitecaps were initially part of the WWHL (Western Women’s Hockey League), staying with them until 2006. Over the summer of 2006, they joined the NWHL (not the current league), along with a few other WWHL teams. Once the NWHL could not merge with the WWHL and the league collapsed, the WWHL was completely independent, along with the Whitecaps. The Minnesota-based team enjoyed a few years of success until the CWHL absorbed the WWHL and decided against taking the Whitecaps with them.

The ‘Caps were inactive for a few years but played four exhibition games against NWHL teams when the league was first established in the 2015-2016 season. During the 2016-2017 season, the team only played games against NCAA teams and Shattuck St. Mary’s School. In February 2018, the NWHL hosted their All-Star Weekend in Minnesota, with the Whitecaps partaking as “host”. Two of the Whitecaps players, Sadie Lundquist and Kate Schipper, represented the team at the events, which were held at the Minnesota Wild of the NHL’s practice rink, TRIA Rink. The understanding for right now is that the Whitecaps will use this rink for the upcoming season. Many fans were worried that the NWHL would either wait too long or jump the gun too much when it came to expansion, but it’s looking like this first new team is coming in at a great time. The Minnesota Whitecaps are sure to fit in nicely in the NWHL next season!

What do you think about the NWHL’s expansion and the inclusion of the Minnesota Whitecaps? Let us know by tweeting us: @PuckItUpBlog.

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