HAMDEN, Connecticut – Former Quinnipiac women's ice hockey players Chelsea Laden (Lakeville, Minnesota) and Shiann Darkangelo (Brighton, Michigan) have signed free agent contracts to play professional women's ice hockey with the Connecticut Whale of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL).
Laden and Darkangelo are among the first three free agent signings for the Whale in franchise history, joining former New Hampshire Wildcat Sam Faber by signing one-year contracts for the inaugural 2015-16 season.
"Both Chelsea and Shiann have put in a lot of hard work into their hockey careers and it's exciting to see them earn this opportunity," Quinnipiac women's ice hockey interim head coach Cassandra Turner said. "The Whale is fortunate to sign two great people who will help to build a strong foundation in the first year of the NWHL. I'm certain there will be a lot of QU fans at their games supporting them as they make history!
Laden and Darkangelo are the first Quinnipiac players to sign deals in the NWHL and the seventh and eighth Quinnipiac women's ice hockey players to sign professional contracts. Former Bobcats Regan Boulton '13 and Victoria Vigilanti '13 signed professional contracts with the Division I European Women's Hockey League's (EWHL) Vienna Sabres after graduating in 2013. Kate Wheeler '12, Chelsea Illchuck '12, Brittany Lyons '13 and Felica Vieweg '13 also signed professional contracts, as they signed with the Neuberg Highlanders of the Division II EWHL after their graduating years.
Laden joins Vigilanti as the only two Quinnipiac women's ice hockey goaltenders to sign professional contracts after becoming two best goaltenders in program history.
"Words absolutely cannot express the excitement and pride I feel to be associated with such an important event in women's hockey history," Laden said. "Being one of the very first players in the NWHL's inaugural season will be a story I tell my children and grandchildren someday. The birth of the NWHL has instantly created a whole new level of dreams and goals for young female hockey players all over the world to strive for."
In the 2014-15 season, Laden set the single-season Quinnipiac women's ice hockey and ECAC women's ice hockey record with 16 shutouts. Laden's 16 shutouts are also the second most in a single season in NCAA women's hockey history. During the season, Laden also recorded a Quinnipiac single-season program record 1.19 GAA to accompany a .930 save percentage on her way to a 25-9-2 record. She was awarded the Sarah Devens Award and the Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year in the ECAC, and named a New England Division I All-Star and named All-ECAC Hockey Second Team.
Laden finished her Quinnipiac career with a 51-22-12 record in 88 games played and with 25 shutouts, tied for the most in program history. Laden also set the career program record with a 1.56 GAA after recording 1,570 saves with a .923 save percentage.
Throughout the season, Laden was also been very involved with USA Hockey. Most recently, Laden attended the inaugural U.S. Women's Hockey National Team Goaltending Development Camp during May. Last August, Laden attended the U.S. Women's Hockey National Festival and in December had attended the U.S. Women's Hockey Winter Training Camp.
Darkangelo also completed a storied career after playing the last two seasons with the Bobcats before inking her professional contract with the Whale.
"Signing with the Connecticut Whale means I am able to continue to chase my dream while being part of something bigger than myself and continuing to help grow the sport doing what I love," Darkangelo said.
During the 2014-15 season, Darkangelo scored 10 goals and tallied 10 assists for 20 points and a
+17 plus/minus rating. She recorded three multi-point games this season, included a career-high three assists at Dartmouth on Dec. 5, 2014. Two games later, Darkangelo scored two goals at Union on Jan. 2, 2015 in a 4-0 victory.
In her career, Darkangelo record 102 points, 60 of which were scored in a Bobcat uniform. Darkangelo scored 23 goals and assisted 17 more for 40 points as a junior after transferring from Syracuse. Darkangelo was just the second Quinnipiac women's ice hockey player to record her 100th point while wearing a Bobcats' uniform, joining Kelly Babstock as the only two members of the 100 point club.
Just like Laden, Darkangelo has been heavily involved with the U.S. Women's National Hockey team. She won a silver medal at the 2014 Four Nations Cup, where she tied for the most points (4) and assists (3) of the tournament. In August, Darkangelo competed for the U22 U.S. Women's National Team against Canada in a three game series, and scored the game-winning goal in the first game. She also was invited to the U.S. Women's National Team Evaluation Camp in September before being named to the Four Nations Cup roster. Darkangelo also attended the U.S. Women's Hockey Winter Training Camp in December with Laden.
The NWHL is comprised of four teams: the Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Buffalo Beauts. The Connecticut Whale will play all their home games at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut. Each team will play a schedule of 18 games, nine home and nine on the road. Games will be played once per week from October until the playoffs begin in March.