After announcing early Monday morning the signing of forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Toronto NWHL has revealed the addition of another four players for the upcoming season.
After reports suggested over the weekend a connection between Toronto and Samantha Ridgewell, the expansion team confirmed this on Monday as Ridgewell will now play as backup to Elaine Chuli. Ridgewell spent the year overseas with Djurgården IF of the SDHL. Prior to her time spent in Sweden, Ridgewell played Division I hockey with the Merrimack Warriors of the NCAA.
Indications from the report suggested the Canadian backstop would be signing this week. As she joins the league’s newest team, she becomes the tenth player to sign on with the expansion team. As well, she reunites in Toronto with Mikyla Grant-Mentis, the leading scorer at Merrimack.
As cited by the official press release, Ridgewell, a Saskatchewan native, was the No. 1 goaltender for Djurgardens IF. Speaking further to that effect, the backstop had a GAA of 2.03 and a .920 save percentage. She did this through 22 games in her first pro season as the team’s starting goaltender. Joining the new team in Toronto, Ridgewell becomes the second to be recruited from Sweden alongside centreman Brooke Boquist.
Digging in deeper to her college days, Ridgewell was a standout at Merrimack, just like Grant-Mentis, being out in the record books. However, for Ridgewell, this wasn’t the case until 2019 in the senior season. At that time, she had tied a school record while managing to rack up five shutouts in net. Not just that alone, but her season statistics spoke volumes as well.
Guiding her team into the playoffs, Ridgewell, 23-years-old, led the Hockey East conference with .938 save percentage. She did so in net with the Warriors, recording a 1.89 GAA. Always keeping calm and collected, Ridgewell’s performance would find her as Hockey East runner-up for goaltender of the year award. Prior to her days with the Warriors, Ridgewell played back home with the Stars before making the jump to the Notre Dame Hounds.
Another player signed on Monday was Jenna McParland, a Canadian forward. McParland, from Schreiber, Ontario, has equal strengths on both offence and defence while she’s been described as a result of her skills by the NWHL as an outstanding all-zone forward. Looking at her season statistics, McParland racked up 10 goals and six assists in 24 games played.
McParland, a right-handed shooter, took part in the 2018 Clarkson Cup Final where the Markham Thunder were named as league champions following a 2-1 win over the Kunlun Red Star. Reflecting on the semifinals against Les Canadiennes de Montreal, McParland broke the scoring open in game two, netting three straight goals in a 4-3 victory. Markham would end up falling, setting up the Inferno and Montreal in Toronto.
As far as the Canadian’s college days go, McParland played 141 games as a member of the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. During this time, the 5’9 forward scored 50 goals and 66 assists, this making for a total of 116 points. Prior to that, like Mikyla Grant-Mentis, McParland played for the Toronto Aeros in the PWHL where she spent three seasons. As well, she was a member of Team Canada at the 2010 U-18 World Championship.
McParland spent the season now passed playing with the Tri-State region in the PWHPA. If you look back at her performance dating back to 2017-2018, Anne Tokarski notes that she scored three hat tricks while managing to do so in a four month span.
As well, McParland, 28, becomes the third former member of the Markham Thunder to sign with Toronto NWHL. In doing so, she joins Taylor Woods and Kristen Barbara on the roster as well. Overall, from the PWHPA, she becomes the seventh player to join the NWHL’s expansion team.
That being said, she’s a solid addition and a much needed add to the hockey club’s roster. Needless to say given her natural abilities, this is a quality signing from team president Digit Murphy.
Now delving into the draft picks, the club signed two of them on Monday afternoon. Starting out with Amy Curlew, she was selected by Toronto last month with the eighth overall pick in the NWHL Draft. As is a common theme here, Curlew, from Goosebay, Newfoundland, was a talented forward with the Big Red at Cornell.
She played there during her studies from 2016-2020. Digging further into her tenure there, Curlew played 32 games where she scored nine goals and 13 assists. Her stats line also included a Plus/Minus rating of +30. Before she committed to Cornell, Curlew, a left-handed shooter, also played in the PWHL.
Curlew played for the Oakville Hornets where she spent two seasons before jumping to college. She also got the opportunity to play for her hometown on Team Newfoundland and Labrador. She served as an assistant captain back in 2015 at the Canada Winter Games.
Lastly, this leaves Natalie Marcuzzi who was a fourth-round pick in the NWHL Draft. Marcuzzi, a Thornhill native, spent the last four years with the Robert Morris Colonials where she served in her senior year as assistant captain, scoring 15 points through 36 games played. Playing with the team on a full schedule, Marcuzzi, 22-years-old, racked up seven goals along with eight assists.
One of many incoming forwards, Marcuzzi was a constant contributor en route to league titles in three consecutive seasons. This was from her second season in 2017 through to 2019. Having gone so far throughout her four seasons, Marcuzzi, a left-handed shooter, often found herself playing in the CHA Championship.
Making these visits consistently, the 5’7 forward made use of it, having won a league title back in 2017. Before she joined Division I hockey, Marcuzzi stuck local at home with the Mississauga Chiefs in the PWHL. Over the two seasons she spent there, Marcuzzi scored 17 goals along with 28 assists in 76 games played.
With all these players locked up now, Toronto has a 13-man roster as they get set to launch later on in the week. 12 of the 13 are Canadian with roots all spread out from a number of provinces. This includes Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario.
The team launched just short of one month ago and since that time, has made strides big and small as they look to start play in mid-November if safe to. As they prepare for their inaugural season, Digit Murphy spoke with Sportsnet on Sunday where she said she’s delighted to help lead the charge in Canada. Speaking to greater lengths, the team president hinted at the launch via Twitter while discussing her decision join the league and the franchise.
She said that remains Toronto’s focus as she’s spoken with many from the PWHPA. Despite recruiting them slowly, Digit mentioned that those who she’s spoken with have wished her good luck as the construction continues.
Alongside the addition of five players, Murphy signed 23-year-old Brooke Boquist while hiring Mandy Cronin as the team’s general manager. With these steps helping to launch, Digit Murphy remains optimistic that a full roster is coming for the fanbase to get behind.
That being said, a key factor to launching will be the team name, logo, colours and arena. With the reveal forthcoming, another key factor to look out for is where the hockey club is set to call home. The Puck Authority had learned that the team had been looking and that an announcement was expected to follow. Arenas that the franchise have been connected to include Maple Leaf Gardens, Scotiabank Pond and Ford Performance Centre based in Etobicoke.
As Digit said via Instagram on Friday, “We got like 12 or 13 players signed, will have a team before you know it and you know why that is? Because women just want to play This nonsense fighting with each other, just play the game unite and let’s bring women’s hockey to another level. It’s all about providing opportunity for women in sports. Everyone get on that bandwagon, buy tickets, support your women.”
As such, other topics Digit discussed were women empowerment and women in sport. Seeing that the league’s newest franchise is managed by women all the way to the top, she connected this chatter to leadership, discussing her talks with team chair Ty Tumminia. Of course, this had to do with recruitment which they’ve done in big ways leading up to the season.
While Digit touched on her widespread outreach, she broke down her discussion with Dani Rylan, the founder and commissioner of the NWHL. All that to be said, Digit concluded saying, “busy week ahead” and that it shall be with further details coming soon.