Highly-respected veteran defender Elena Orlando, an original NWHL player, has re-signed with the Connecticut Whale for the 2019-20 season. This will be her fourth season with the Whale, after playing the NWHL’s inaugural season with the New York Riveters.
“I’ve loved my time in the NWHL and I believe it’s very important to continue to build the league and advance the game for future generations,” said Orlando.
The stay-at-home defender has played 61 games over the four seasons of the NWHL. Orlando was a dual athlete her junior and senior years at Quinnipiac University, playing both hockey and rugby. Between 2010–2014, she played 87 hockey games at Quinnipiac.
“Elena is a fierce competitor who has gained respect throughout the NWHL as a player since the first season,” said Connecticut general manager Bray Ketchum. “She brings experience, commitment and hard work to the Whale lineup.”
Raised in Northern California, Orlando was a big fan of the San Jose Sharks. She dreamed of being the NHL’s first female player, but played hockey only on boys’ teams until she went to Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota.
“I played on boys’ teams because there weren’t any programs for girls near me, and I dreamed of playing in the NHL because there wasn’t an NWHL at the time,” said Orlando. “I feel so blessed to have this opportunity.”
In 2017, Orlando was a co-recipient of the NWHL Foundation Award, which goes to the players most actively applying the core values of hockey to her community as well as improving hockey culture.
PHOTO BY BRYAN JOHNSON
Asked for a scouting report on her own play, Orlando wrote in an email, “I would describe myself as a reliable defenseman that isn’t afraid to play aggressively and block shots.”
In addition to playing for the Connecticut Whale, Orlando is a nursing consultant in Norwalk.