PHOTO BY TROY PARLA
This season was a unique one when it came to new faces in the NWHL. The league expanded to Minnesota with the addition of the Whitecaps, and after an Olympic year last season, some Olympians, including Meeri Räisänen, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Shannon Szabados and Hannah Brandt, joined NWHL rosters for the first time.
Amidst an incredibly talented pool of newcomers that took the skill level in the league to new heights, Jonna Curtis of the Whitecaps stood out among the crowd. For her efforts, Curtis has been named Newcomer of the Year, voted on by a panel of 20 broadcasters and media members in cooperation with the Women’s Hockey Media Association.
“I am very humbled to have been named NWHL Newcomer of the Year!” said Curtis. “So many talented players continue to join the league, and it was an honor just to have been named a finalist. It means a lot to me, and I could not have done it without my amazing teammates!”
Curtis burst onto the scene as an NWHL rookie, racking up seven points in her first five NWHL games – immediately putting opponents on notice. She tied for second in the league with 19 points in the regular season, the highest of any newcomer. Appearing in all 16 regular season games for Minnesota, she recorded a point in 12 of them, including four multi-point performances. She was named the VEDA NWHL Player of the Week in October after posting five points in a Whitecaps’ weekend sweep of the Metropolitan Riveters.
“Jonna is a great choice for this award,” said Whitecaps co-head coach Ronda Engelhardt. “Jonna was one of our most consistent forwards. She is a very tenacious player who plays with a lot of heart. She is also very shifty, making it difficult to defend her.”
The media selected three finalists for the award – Coyne Schofield, Szabados and Curtis – before selecting Curtis as the winner. Last season, Hayley Scamurra of the Buffalo Beauts won the first iteration of the award when it was known as Rookie of the Year.
The league’s four major awards – Goaltender of the Year, Defender of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and The Players’ Top Player – will be announced on Monday.