As Season 5 Begins on Oct. 5, 5 Players Sign Contracts

by NWHL Media

The NWHL announced today that the following five players have signed contracts for the 2019-20 season.

Connecticut Whale

Sarah Schwenzfeier: A native of Hingham, Mass., Schwenzfeier made her pro debut with the Whale last season, appearing in four games. She played at Norwich University and was the Cadets’ leading scorer in the 2016-17 season. The following year, she was one of Norwich’s top scorers when the Cadets won the national championship. She finished her collegiate career with 121 points in 119 games. Schwenzfeier is currently the fourth-highest scorer in Norwich history and was a four-time NEHC All-Conference selection.

“Sarah has shown that she can produce offensively, and she also blocks shots and brings a gritty work ethic to our team,” said Whale assistant coach Laura Brennan. “The Whale are excited to have her back.”

Minnesota Whitecaps

Lauren Barnes: A Minnesota native who played at Mercyhurst and Minnesota State University, Barnes scored two goals and earned an assist in nine regular season games with the Whitecaps last season. She also scored a goal for the Whitecaps in the team’s historic 2019 Isobel Cup playoff run. At Minnesota State, Barnes led the Mavericks in assists in her sophomore and senior seasons and finished second in the WCHA in power play points as a senior. She finished her collegiate career with 62 points in 135 games. Barnes went pro in the Frauen-Bundesliga with ERC Ingolstadt in 2014-15 and led the league in goals (33) and points (65). 

“We are excited that Lauren is back for another season with the Whitecaps,” said Minnesota co-head coach Ronda Engelhardt. “Lauren is a highly-respected member of our team both on and off the ice. She is a skilled and hard-working player who brings lightheartedness to each practice and has a great way of motivating her teammates to compete each game.”

In addition to playing for the Whitecaps, Barnes is a leader in youth hockey development with the Blue Army program in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. She has coached the U16 Blue Army team and is set to head the U19 program this year. She also takes on an assistant coaching role for the U14 High Performance district 6 team with Whitecaps teammate Brooke-White Lancette.

Buffalo Beauts

Ana Orzechowski: A stay-at-home defender at RPI from 2015-2019, she took just 16 PIM in her 105 career NCAA games in the NCAA and played in 29 games as a senior without a single trip to the penalty box. Before her collegiate career, Orzechowski played in the PWHL with the Burlington Barracudas and was teammates with current Beauts Becki Bowering and Meg Delay. She’s the fourth player from RPI to sign a contract with an NWHL team this year – after Whitney Renn, Marisa Raspa, and Lovisa Selander signed with the Boston Pride.

Richelle Skarbowski: A 5-10 defender, the New York native played at New England University and at SUNY-Cortland, where she served as the captain of the Red Dragons in her senior season. The physical defender led the Red Dragons’ defense in scoring in her senior season and was selected to the ECAC West All-Academic Team in her junior and senior seasons.

Erin Gehen: Gehen is Buffalo State College’s all-time leader in goals, assists (41), points (95), shorthanded goals (7), and games played (104). She played for the school from 2014-2018. Gehen is in her second season as a volunteer assistant coach at Elmira College.

“Erin, Ana and Richelle came to our training camp this month and earned their way on the Beauts’ roster with their skill, dedication and commitment to team-first play,” said Buffalo GM Mandy Cronin. “The coaches and I are confident they will all be important contributors this season.”