With eligibility for the 2013 CWHL draft underway, two players have emerged as the first to declare. Jessica Vella, a former team captain with the Providence Friars, and Bailey Lane, who has Division I experience with the now defunct Wayne State Warriors are hoping to be selected.
While the star power of the groundbreaking 2012 CWHL draft will not be as prevalent (in which four of the first-round selections had competed in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games), the 2013 draft should feature picks who will provide good value.
As many of the CWHL’s stars shall be centralized with either the American or Canadian training camps for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, a huge gap for talent will present itself. With the franchises of the CWHL looking to restock their rosters, every draft pick shall have the opportunity to become an important element to the team’s character.
Vella and Lane represent the type of player who will comprise the typical 2013 pick: grinders, not afraid to get in the corners, heart and soul players. These are the type of picks who shall serve as the backbone for the franchises of the 2013-14 CWHL season.
Bestowed with the Athlete of the Year award during every year of her athletic career in high school, Vella is a multi-talented athlete. With a strong background in soccer (competing with Ontario’s provincial team in 2005 and 2006), track and field and badminton, Vella brings a great love of sport to the CWHL .
Despite being 5’2” inches, Vella is a spitfire who helped Providence appear in the Hockey East semifinals for the 11th straight year in 2013. While she averaged less than a point per game in her NCAA career, Vella employed a defensive-minded game complemented by strong forechecking skills.
Having donned No. 12 throughout her hockey career, the number is available should she be drafted by Brampton. With the retirement of former Winter Games gold medalist Lori Dupuis from the black and red, Vella could inherit the number.
Her final season in Providence would be her finest statistically. Reaching double digits in goals and assists for the first time, she logged 25 points in 36 games. Highly disciplined, Vella had three seasons at Providence with fewer than 24 penalty minutes.
In the same mold as Vella, Lane also brings a strong forecheck and defensive approach to the frozen surface. Versatile as both a forward and a defender, Lane’s skills at both ends of the ice bring depth to any CWHL lineup.
Hailing from Armada, Mich., Lane was invited to the USA Hockey National Development Camp from 2004 to 2007.
Her first year of collegiate hockey was in 2008-09 with Wayne State University in Detroit. With only one goal in that difficult rookie season, it would be her last with the program. She returned to collegiate hockey in the autumn of 2011 with Wisconsin-Superior of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.
Having never missed a game with the Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets, Lane was a tough-as-nails player who assembled a solid career. As an All-Academic selection every season, Lane is an articulate individual who brings consistent play to the ice.
While Lane never scored more than 16 points in any season with the Yellowjackets, she managed to perform on the power play. Statistically, her final season (2012-13) resulted in three power-play markers, complemented by one short-handed goal and two game-winning tallies.
Possessing a well-rounded game, Lane was also an NCHA first-team selection after her senior season. A strong leader, Lane would carry in the strong tradition of other Division III stars to be selected by a CWHL franchise. Former Laura Hurd Award winner Sarah Dagg and Gustavus-Adolphus superstar Sarah Moe have also been drafted in recent years.
Although neither player has the statistics or international experience that would make them first-round picks, Vella and Lane represent the depth that is needed to succeed in the CWHL. Character players with strong leadership roles on their collegiate teams, both are capable of providing a solid presence.
Stats and information are courtesy of the USCHO, Friars.com and UWSYellowjackets.com.