COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Fourteen current members of the U.S. Women's National Team Program have joined the National Women's Hockey League for its inaugural season opening on Oct. 11. The players are Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.), Megan Bozek (Buffalo Grove, Ill.),Shiann Darkangelo (Brighton, Mich.), Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.), Meghan Duggan(Danvers, Mass.), Alyssa Gagliardi (Raleigh, N.C.), Zoe Hickel (Anchorage, Alaska), Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho), Gigi Marvin (Warroad, Minn.), Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle(Sheffield Village, Ohio), Amanda Pelkey (Montpelier, Vt.), Emily Pfalzer (Getzville, N.Y.),Jordan Smelker (Anchorage, Alaska) and Kelli Stack (Brooklyn Heights, Ohio).
The NWHL was founded earlier this year with four teams (Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, New York Riveters) and is the first all-women's paid professional hockey league.
Bellamy, Decker, Gagliardi, Hickel, Knight, Marvin, Pelkey and Smelker will play for Boston; Bozek,Duggan, McLaughlin-Bittle and Pfalzer with Buffalo; and Darkangelo and Stack for Connecticut.
Collectively, these players have represented the U.S. in 742 international games. Eight of the 14 players (Bellamy, Bozek, Decker, Duggan, Knight, Marvin, McLaughlin-Bittle and Stack) are Olympians who have combined for 14 silver medals in the Olympic Winter Games.
"It's an exciting time for the growth of women's hockey and we look forward to having our players compete in the NWHL," said Reagan Carey, director of women's hockey for USA Hockey. "We are confident that the players will be afforded a high standard of play and will maintain their conditioning and sharpen their skills throughout the season."
"We're thrilled to have these highly-talented players from the National Team program as members of the NWHL for the upcoming season,"said Dani Rylan, commissioner of the NWHL. "This group, and all of the players who have come through USA Hockey, will make a significant impact and help strengthen the overall group of players for our inaugural season."
For current NWHL rosters and to learn more about the league, visit NWHL.co.
NOTES: In addition to the 14 current U.S. Women's National Team players in the NWHL, Jillian Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.) and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) previously competed for the U.S. Women's National Team, as did Olympian Molly Engstrom (Siren, Wis.) who came out of retirement to join the league. The NWHL also features 11 players who have represented Team USA at the Under-22 or Under-18 level. Those players are Brooke Ammerman (River Vale, N.J.),Blake Bolden (Stow, Ohio), Meghan Fardelmann (Lansing, Kan.), Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.), Gabie Figueroa (Branchburg, N.J.), Marissa Gedman (Framingham, Mass.), Bray Ketchum (Greenwhich, Conn.), Jessica Koizumi, (Simi Valley, Calif.), Shenae Lundberg(Peterborough, N.H.), Madison Packer (Birmingham, Mich.) and Lauren Slebodnick(Manchester, N.H.). Two players, Paige Harrington (Mansfield, Mass.) and Hayley Williams(Crete, Ill.) played for the U.S. at the World University Games. Thirty of the 72 players in the NWHL have Team USA experience.