Among the greatest legacies which define the Minnesota Whitecaps, its most remarkable may be the gathering of superlative players, an assemblage of world-class skill that sustains the club’s standing as one of the most influential in American women’s ice hockey.
This season has seen such a legacy extend with the arrival of several highly accomplished young talent, all honored during their collegiate careers with All-America status.
In the company of said talent is a swift skating spitfire whose hockey resume includes a podium finish at the Winter Games and the Patty Kazmaier Award. With athletic roots that were cultivated in the nearby state of Illinois, Kendall Coyne adds the Whitecaps to her rapidly expanding legacy.
“The Whitecaps provided the best balance between my hockey, training, school, and personal life. I am grateful for the opportunity they have provided me.”
Joining Coyne among this welcome group of new faces includes a pair of players that gain the distinction of calling her a teammate twice, having also donned the Stars and Stripes in international play alongside as well. Including Hannah Brandt, the all-time leading scorer in Minnesota Golden Gophers history, backstop Shelby Amsley-Benzie, who starred at North Dakota, akin to the Lamoureux Twins, is among this impressive rookie crop for the Whitecaps.
Of note, these three rookie sensations were among seven Whitecaps players that suited up for the United States in a gold medal effort at the 2016 Four Nations Cup. Joining them were Alex Rigsby, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Stephanie Anderson. To share in this experience with them represented an enjoyable milestone,
“Yes, anytime you get to represent your country and win, it is a special feeling.”
Against Finland in round robin competition, Coyne logged her first goal of the tournament. Coyne would close out this portion of the competition with another goal, scoring against Canada in a hard fought 3-2 final. Logging an assist in the gold medal match, Coyne played on a line with Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker.
Prior to the start of the season, there was speculation that Knight and Decker would be Coyne’s teammates at the NWHL level. Considering that Coyne was a significant hockey hero in New England, having starred with the Boston-based Northeastern Huskies, it was no surprise that she was a first round pick of the Boston Pride in the inaugural 2015 NWHL Draft.
Opting to remain close to her Midwestern roots, Coyne would make her first appearance on September 23, 2016 against the defending Frozen Four champion Minnesota Golden Gophers. Against this powerhouse club, Coyne provided a two-assist performance, one of three players (including Hannah Brandt and Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson) that supplied multiple point efforts.
The following day, Coyne and the Whitecaps were back on the ice, taking on the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Despite Ashleigh Brykaliuk providing the Bulldogs with the early 1-0 lead, Coyne would reply with the first goal of her Whitecaps career at the 15:32 mark of the first. Scoring on Maddie Rooney, teammates Hannah Brandt and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson provided the assists in an eventual 4-1 final for the Bulldogs.
Before 2016 would come to a close, Coyne would get the opportunity to meet Rio Summer Games gold medalist Simone Biles, who attended her first NHL games in Chicago. On the ice, Coyne also appeared in exhibition contests against other NCAA programs including Lindenwood, Syracuse and Minnesota’s Bemidji State. An October 15 tilt against Lindenwood, Coyne would earn an assist on the Whitecaps only goal of the game, skating to a 1-1 draw.
Appearing in the Whitecaps’ second match against Bemidji State on November 12, Coyne was part of an offensive juggernaut. Despite trailing 2-0 early on, the Whitecaps replied with six unanswered goals. Coyne contributed with a pair of points in the second stanza. Starting with an assist on a goal scored by Lamoureux-Davidson, she would proceed to put her name on the scoresheet.
Finding the back of the net against backstop Mackenzie Bruch at the 17:56 mark, it would be the Whitecaps fifth goal of the game with Brandt and Lamoureux-Davidson earning the assists on her second career goal with the club. Eventually prevailing by an 8-5 tally, it marked a sweep against Bemidji State, who provided a valiant effort.
As Coyne prepares for the second half of her inaugural season with the Whitecaps, which shall include a rematch with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, a pair of tilts with the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s hockey academy (at Ridder Arena and in Faribault), along with a friendly scrimmage against Team South Korea in Stillwater, Minnesota. While the potential for many more hockey memories to come for the exceptional Coyne remain possible, other elements have defined this inaugural season, which have only added to why she enjoys this game so much,
“I have enjoyed meeting new people and playing collegiate rinks I have never played in before.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Brent Cizek