As the Connecticut Whale continue to build their team, a key acquisition was former United States national team member Jessica Koizumi. Signed on the same day as Maine Black Bears alum Danielle Ward, they are part of an impressive free agent class for the Whale.
Said class includes Quinnipiac alums Shiann Darkangelo and Chelsea Laden, blueliner Kaleigh Fratkin, the first Canadian to sign an NWHL contract, and Sam Faber, a player very familiar to Koizumi. Of note, the two were charter members of the Boston Blades.
Having won two Clarkson Cup championships with the Blades, the experience of Koizumi (who is known affectionately as Zoomy) may prove to be essential in the race towards the inaugural Isobel Cup. Taking into account that Koizumi played in the first-ever Clarkson Cup championship game (with the Minnesota Whitecaps), her acquisition may prove to be a key turning point for the Whale.
During the inaugural season with the Blades, Koizumi managed to make history twice. Not only did she score the first goal in franchise history, she would score the first power play goal for the team.
That season, Faber finished as the Blades’ leading scorer, accumulating 30 points. Second in scoring that season was Angela Ruggiero, the first player with CWHL playing experience to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Of note, the Whale are optimistic that both can recapture their high scoring ways in NWHL play.
Throughout her Blades career, Koizumi experienced several significant milestones. From becoming the first player in franchise history to record 50 points with the Blades, to 100 career points in pro hockey. Perhaps the most admirable aspect was the fact that she juggled her playing career while serving as an assistant coach on the Yale Bulldogs women’s ice hockey program, based in New Haven, Connecticut.
Prior to her pro hockey career, and the chance to don the USA Hockey jersey, Koizumi established herself as one to watch in NCAA hockey. Scoring 84 career goals with the powerhouse Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, she graduated with 155 points. Competing against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2007 NCAA Frozen Four title game, it was a fitting way to end her sparkling collegiate career.
Another factor that adds to the remarkable veteran (and leadership) presence of Koizumi is the fact that she has played for some highly accomplished coaches in her sparkling career. From Shannon Miller at Minnesota-Duluth to Patrick Rankine with the Montreal Stars (the first coach to win two Clarkson Cups), she would also play for Erin Whitten and Digit Murphy as a member of the Boston Blades.
Poised to become an essential part of the Whale’s roster, Koizumi provides leadership and grace to a club that is composing a remarkable and exciting chapter in female hockey. Taking into account Koizumi’s legacy as a builder in the game, subsequently serving as a role model for younger players, she is a special talent capable of helping the NWHL add an exciting new dimension to the women’s game.