Ashley Birdsall, a former player with the Minnesota Whitecaps and University of Wisconsin-Superior who is about to complete her ninth year of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard, is joining the National Women’s Hockey League. After an impressive showing last month at the team’s Free Agent Camp, the 5-3 forward/defender has signed with the Buffalo Beauts.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Buffalo Beauts and NWHL and can't wait to get the season started,” said Birdsall.
The Duluth native holds the rank of Captain in the Minnesota Army National Guard and is currently serving in the roles of Joint Operations Center Officer and G3 Training Technician for Joint Force Headquarters Minnesota.
“Throughout my time in the service, I have continued to train and compete in the sports of hockey, ice-cross downhill and biathlon,” she said. “I believe my biggest strengths are speed, physicality and versatility on the ice. I'm comfortable at both forward and defense and am happy to play wherever I am needed in the lineup in order to contribute to the success of the Beauts.”
Birdsall played at the University of Wisconsin-Superior from 2008-2013 and for the Whitecaps for three seasons before the team joined the NWHL.
She enlisted in the Army in 2011 as a 09S officer candidate and commissioned via the Minnesota Army National Guard Officer Candidate School program a year later. Captain Birdsall has been awarded the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Minnesota Service Ribbon and Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (1st Award).
Beauts general manager Mandy Cronin offered Birdsall an NWHL contract and roster spot on Buffalo’s team after the Free Agent Camp.
“Ashley is a very versatile player, with an undeniable and contagious work ethic,” said Cronin. “She will be a workhorse for the Beauts.”
Said Birdsall, “This chance to play in the NWHL would not be possible without the continued support of my Chain of Command, and for that I am forever grateful.”