We have some Connecticut Whale bits thanks to Head Coach Colton Orr. Here are some highlights.
While the Whale kept a core of twelve players from last year, they added some new players though some were familiar faces to Connecticut fans: “It’s been a good offseason. We’ve brought in key pieces with Kateřina [Mrázová], and Meeri [Räisänen], and Emma Keenan, and Mal Souliotis as well. And I think we’ve brought a real exciting core back that we had that was a big part of our success last year. So you know just trying to bring in people that fit our team and our style of play and our dressing room,” Orr said. And Orr was underselling his newcomer corps which includes Caitrin Lonergan, Justine Reyes, Tori Sullivan and Lenka Serdar as well.
With an interesting batch of newcomers arriving to join with the core, a question would be how chemistry would be established, in response to a question from TXHT about that Orr answered:
“Just time together. We had a real good time building up in forest lake. It’s Tobin Kelly our owner ‘s summer camp that he has. And we went up there as a team spent a couple nights up there. It was some cold conditions, and we were staying in some cabins that had no heat. It was just a lot of fun to kinda get away, get together, face a little adversity together early on and just have that time together early on I think it’s just nice to have that and kinda have a bit of longer training camp to get some practice in, get some ice time together and really try again to build off of what we started to do as an organization and get everyone up to speed to where we’re at. It’s nice to have twelve returning players from last year to support that and support the message. They’re been a few players now that have been with me for a few years and the staff that we have that understand the messaging that we want as an organization. It’s been nice to get them up to speed pretty quickly.”
Responding to a question from Sam Fryman about how the team has grown since he first took over he reflected on early struggles but said: “I think you saw that right away from even that first season back then maybe we didn’t the skill set but the work ethic we had would match any team in the league but that’s what we’re all about. And we want to stick by that foundation of where we came from.”
That was a different time for the Whale though, when the team was other than in Season One, found in the lower ranks of the NWHL/PHF, now they are seen as a surefire contender and Orr knows it:
“I definitely think things will get harder now. Sometimes it’s almost easier to be in that underdog situation, but now being the team is looked as to be the one of the tops, people will be gunning for you. They’re going be ready for you, they’re going to be prepared to play against you.”
When Fryman inquired about the goalies, Orr spoke about them and also pointed out what those who know their resumes would suspect: “We got two really solid goalies, that we’d be comfortable playing either.”
The Whale have a new home after some time in Danbury, and before that Stamford as they will be at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury. Erin Brown asked Coach Orr to speak on the quality of the facilities and he spoke highly of them: “Simsbury’s still being kind of built out for us, we’re really excited to be there for our games. As staff I think it’s exciting to really feel welcome, and really feel like they want us as part of the community and feel that they want us there. I think it’s one of the biggest things, and you know given us a lot of say in what we have, whether it’s ice time, facilities, dressing rooms that we’re working on, all that kind of stuff. They want to work with us. I think that’s the most important thing about a building you want to be in. You want someone you feel comfortable with. You want to grow together. And I think that’s something that we’re getting in Simsbury.”
The Whale and Riveters both seem to be moving to locations that in the eyes of the team themselves are upgrades from previous situations based on the way their representatives speak about them. In the case of Simsbury, the facilities were still being worked on so it will be interesting to see how everything comes to pass. Simsbury location wise, does move the Whale closer to the center of the state and the former home of the birthplace of Brass Bonanza.
D.F. Pendrys is a trans non-binary freelance reporter and editor of Glaive Sports.
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