2012-13 CWHL Preview

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIOctober 21, 2012

2012-13 CWHL Preview

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    The 2012-13 CWHL season reflects a season of change. With the Burlington Barracudas having been contracted, the league now possesses five high quality teams. The 2012 CWHL Draft has promised that the balance of power in the league may soon change.

    An underachieving Toronto Furies rebuilt their offense by drafting Rebecca Johnston, Jennifer Wakefield, Natalie Spooner, Catherine White and Jordanna Peroff. The five comprise a long term grouping of five core forwards.

    All-World defender Molly Engstrom has joined the Boston Blades, a move that will help the franchise recover from the retirement of Angela Ruggiero. With the drafting of Hilary Knight, Jen Schoullis and Anne Schleper (all members of the United States national team), the Blades have added much-needed depth to their offense. With the hiring of Digit Murphy as coach and general manager, the Blades promise to build on their second place finish of last season.

    While the Montreal Stars look to win an unprecedented third consecutive Clarkson Cup finish, they understand no team can be taken for granted.

5: Team Alberta

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    2012 Finish: Fifth

    Projected 2013 Finish: Fifth

    Notable Draft Picks: Hilary Pattenden (First Pick Overall), Jocelyne Larocque, Tara Watchorn

    General Manager: Chantal Champagne

    Head Coach: Tim Bothwell

    Key veterans: Meaghan Mikkelson, Kelsey Webster, Chelsea Purcell, Jenna Cunningham

    Assessment: Larocque and Watchorn will help improve special teams

    Pattenden not suiting up for team this season is devastating for Alberta’s development

    Will need to work on offense, but headed in right direction

4: Brampton Thunder

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    2012 Finish: Third, Clarkson Cup finalist

    Projected 2013 Finish: Fourth

    Notable Draft Picks: Haley Irwin (Fourth Pick Overall), Bailey Bram, Laura McIntosh, Charissa Stadnyk

    General Manager: Jody Katz

    Head Coach: Rick Traugott

    Key veterans: Gillian Apps, Jayna Hefford, Lori Dupuis

    Assessment: Bailey Bram and Vicki Bendus were great teammates in college at Mercyhurst, should be even greater in Brampton

    Haley Irwin asking for a personal release, and Molly Engstrom signing with Boston will hurt Brampton’s Clarkson Cup chances

3: Toronto Furies

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    2012 Finish: Fourth

    Projected 2013 Finish: Third

    Notable Draft Picks: Rebecca Johnston (Second Pick Overall), Jennifer Wakefield, Natalie Spooner, Jordanna Peroff, Catherine White

    General Manager: Rebecca Davies

    Head Coach: Sommer West

    Key veterans: Erika Vanderveer, Amanda Shaw, Megan Aarts, Kristy Zamora, Tessa Bonhomme

    Assessment: Rebuilt offense will pay big dividends for Toronto, strong possibility of at least 4 players with 40 point seasons

    Great blend of youth and experience

    Sommer West is an outstanding acquisition as head coach. Her experience as a player will make her a great coach

    Will still need a year of seasoning before being able to compete with Boston and Montreal

2: Boston Blades

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    2012 Finish: Second

    Projected 2013 Finish: Second

    Notable Draft Picks: Hilary Knight (Fourth Pick Overall), Genevieve Lacasse, Anne Schleper, Jen Schoullis, Kelley Steadman

    General Manager: Digit Murphy

    Head Coach: Digit Murphy

    Key veterans: Erika Lawler, Gigi Marvin, Meghan Duggan, Jessica Koizumi, Molly Schaus, Caitlin Cahow, Kelli Stack, Molly Engstrom

    Assessment: Digit Murphy is the first woman to have 200 and 300 wins at the NCAA level, a perfect choice to lead the franchise

    Hilary Knight is a future superstar who will complement Kelli Stack’s scoring ability

    Next to Montreal, the Blades have the best goaltending tandem in the CWHL with Molly Schaus and Genevieve Lacasse

    The acquisition of Molly Engstrom gives the Blades their best opportunity to win the Clarkson Cup

1: Montreal Stars

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    1: Montreal Stars

    2012 Finish: First, Clarkson Cup champions

    Projected 2013 Finish: First

    Notable Draft Picks: Charline Labonte (Fifth Pick Overall), Ann-Sophie Bettez, Florence Schelling, Marieve Provost, Carolyne Prevost

    General Manager: Meg Hewings

    Head Coach: Patrick Rankine

    Key veterans: Lisa-Marie Breton (captain), Noemie Marin, Caroline Ouellette, Meghan Agosta, Julie Chu, Dominique Thibault, Kim St-Pierre, Jenny Lavigne

    Assessment: Retirement of Stephanie Denino and Kelly Sudia represents a loss of leadership

    Acquisitions of Haley Irwin and Jesse Scanzano provides the Stars with two remarkable power forwards

    Embarrassment of riches at the goaltender position

    Great depth at the forward position, Carolyne Prevost is a future superstar

    Noemie Marin and Vinny Davidson are the CWHL’s most underrated players

    Nathalie Dery becoming an assistant coach is a tremendous acquisition for the club

2013 CWHL Awards

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    Clarkson Cup: Montreal Stars over Boston Blades

    Angela James Bowl (given to the CWHL scoring champion): Meghan Agosta, Montreal

    Most Valuable Player: Meghan Agosta, Montreal

    Rookie of the Year: Rebecca Johnston, Toronto

    Best Defensive Player: Molly Engstrom, Boston

    Most Outstanding Goaltender: Charline Labonte, Montreal