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BLOG: Dunne's Road to the Show



Running updates on 2017 graduate Cassie Dunne's quest to play professional hockey


DUNNE REGISTERS FOR THE CWHL DRAFT
June 15, 2017 | 7:49 p.m.

Although the NWHL has been an early-summer focus due to free-for-all fashion in which it fills up its teams, Dunne has taken an important step forward with North America's other professional women's league by registering for the 2017 Canadian Women's Hockey League Draft.

The CWHL Draft works a little differently from most other league drafts. Players registering must designate between one and three "acceptable locations," or places they would willing to play, a process that makes sense given the present realities in women's pro hockey concerning geography and salary. Acceptable locations are not made public, but are known to the league's six teams - Boston, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Brampton and new expansion squad Kunlun Red Star in Beijing, China - who are then only allowed to select players that have approved their location. Furthermore, the draft continues until all registered players are selected, even if it means that the end of the proceedings have numerous one-pick "rounds" to exhaust the list, as happened with the Boston Blades last year. All selected players are then invited to their team's tryout.

The last two drafts have each involved at least one former Penn State opponent from the ACHA. In 2016, Rhode Island alumnae Sydney Collins and Kristen Levesque were taken by the Blades with consecutive picks. In 2015, Liberty's Sarah Stevenson went in the fourth round, 17th overall, to the Toronto Furies. Both Levesque and Stevenson went on to play for their drafting teams.

This year's version will see Dunne assigned to a CWHL team on August 20th, with player registrations accepted through August 1st. An up-to-date list of draft prospects is available on the CWHL's website.



BEAUTS SIGN JORDAN OTT
June 14, 2017 | 3:17 p.m.

The Buffalo Beauts have made their first free agent camp-related transaction, inking SUNY Potsdam's Jordan Ott to a contract after she put together an impressive weekend at the event. Ott is the Bears' all-time leader in points and was USCHO's national NCAA Division III rookie of the year in 2014, so the idea that she would earn a pro contract is far from stunning.

From Dunne's perspective, the news isn't discouraging, as Ott's is the only spot in Buffalo that has become unavailable since the camp, and the move demonstrates that the Beauts coaching staff considered the camp a legitimate roster-building tool.




RECAPPING A PRODUCTIVE WEEKEND
June 13, 2017 | 7:49 p.m.

The write-ups are starting to roll in concerning the Buffalo Beauts' free agent camp this past weekend, with Erik Wollschlager of FanRag Sports working a Dunne mention into his piece.
[Penn State NCAA team graduate Kelly Seward] was joined by standout Cassie Dunne, who wore the ‘A’ for Team USA at the University Games, helping to lead the team to a bronze medal.
Factual errors aside (Dunne was a co-captain of Team USA with Jessie Rushing, and the two rotated wearing the C due to tournament rules only allowing one C at a time), Wollschlager included other bits of encouraging news, including that 23 players registered for the camp with a few unable to attend. The Beauts presently have 15 full roster spots available plus any practice player positions given out. Co-coach Craig Muni was encouraged by the level of those in attendance as well.
“I believe the camp was very productive,” Muni told FanRag Sports. “You can see the skill level of the young ladies getting better with every season. The players who set themselves apart from the pack are those with speed and hockey knowledge.”

Muni drew an optimistic comparison to the camp held last June.

“[For] an overall comparison to last year’s free agent, [this year’s] camp is very similar but there was more noticeable speed on the ice this year,” he said. “Some players stood out not only on the ice, but come with high recommendations from their college coaches. We have some tough decisions to make for the season.”
Without a doubt, it will be interesting to see how the camp affects the formation of the Beauts' 2017-18 roster over the next few weeks.



SKATING WITH THE PROS
June 12, 2017 | 5:03 p.m.

Over the weekend's Buffalo Beauts free agent camp at the Hockey Outlet Ice Complex in North Tonawanda, NY, there wasn't a ton of mystery concerning how Dunne would fit in with the pro team - much of it was already there.

While a full camp roster has yet to be released, confirmed attendees included goalie Kelsey Neumann, who has already re-signed with the team for next season, as well as Hayley Scamurra, Jacquie Greco, Kourtney Kunichika and Sarah Casorso, all of whom were with the team during their 2016-17 championship run. ACHA alumna Hayley Williams and Hannah McGowan, who were inaugural Beauts in 2015-16, also attended.

Ohio State NCAA Division I grad Katie Maroney and Marissa Graham (most recently of Canadian school Brock University, although she began her collegiate career with two seasons with ACHA foe Liberty) were attendees among those in Dunne's category of seeking to enter the league for the first time.

For her part, Dunne felt like she acquitted herself well among the many accomplished players, particularly after making key adjustments to her game between the first and second days.

"It was a great opportunity to skate at the Buffalo Beauts invitational camp this weekend," she said "The speed and skills of the girls at camp was impressive, and it was a lot of fun to be out on the ice with them."

"This weekend was a great opportunity, and I look forward to potential opportunities to come."

For now, the focus will continue to be on looking for those opportunities, by finding additional chances to get on the ice in front of pro coaches and by monitoring the roster situations and needs of the nine NWHL and CWHL teams while keeping contact.




SHUFFLING OFF TO BUFFALO
June 8, 2017 | 7:45 p.m.

On June 10th and 11th, Dunne will attend her second NWHL free agent camp. While the first, in Massachusetts last month, was a general, league-wide camp, this one will be held in Buffalo and is specific to the Beauts franchise.

The Beauts, arguably, present the most wide-open opportunity of the four NWHL teams. To this point, co-head coaches Ric Seiling (who also serves as general manager) and Craig Muni have just two players committed for 2017-18: goal-scoring forward Corinne Buie and goaltender Kelsey Neumann (the others have signed ten, nine and five of their 17 full-time players). Buffalo, further removed from the East Coast hockey hotbeds than the other three teams, has generally been the slowest-developing roster of the group during the NWHL's three offseasons so far - although the 2017 Isobel Cup champions would certainly have a point in countering that "slower" doesn't mean "worse."

Still, Dunne and the other attendees, many of whom were also at the May camp, will undoubtedly be looking to impress this weekend and earn a contract with the team that has employed both of the ACHA alumni to play in the NWHL to date.



NWHL UNRESTICTED FREE AGENCY UNDERWAY
June 1, 2017 | 12:00 a.m.

Following a restricted free agent period spanning the entire month of May, during which only re-signings of previous players were permitted, NWHL free agency is now officially open to Dunne and all other new players seeking a contract in the league.



MARLBOROUGH CAMP ROSTER RELEASED
May 18, 2017 | 2:23 p.m.

The full roster from the NWHL Free Agent Camp in Marlborough, MA over the weekend made its way to the public today.

Among the notables skating alongside Dunne were Paige Harrington and Hayley Williams, the two ACHA alumni with the longest professional careers in North America. Harrington, a 2011-12 Lady Icers player who subsequently finished her career at UMass, is one of two known former Penn State ACHA players to play professionally (2002 graduate Andrea Lavelle is the other). She's been with the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts for two seasons, winning the league's second Isobel Cup championship at the end of 2016-17.

Williams' nomadic collegiate journey began in 2009-10 at NCAA Division I Bemidji State. She then left the sport for three seasons, before returning with single seasons at ACHA schools Robert Morris (2013-14) and Miami (2014-15). The Crete, IL native teamed with Harrington on the 2015-16 Beauts and was voted to the NWHL's first-ever all-star game - where she scored a goal - before moving over to the CWHL and the Brampton Thunder in 2016-17.

Coincidentally - or perhaps not - all three players have been a captain for the U.S. National University Team at World University Games. Dunne, of course, was 2017's co-captain. Harrington and Williams were both alternate captains on the 2013 squad that also won bronze medals, then again in 2015.

Jersey
Player
Pos.
DOB
College/Previous Team
Red
42
Rachael Ade
D
2/25/1995
University of Vermont (NCAA)
Red
28
Kaycie Anderson
W
4/29/1991
Norwich University (NCAA)
Red
18
Denise Cardello
C
7/7/1988
Castleton University (NCAA)
Black
20
Megan Delay
D
4/8/1997
Brock University (U-Sports)
Red
14
Cassandra Dunne
W/D
10/12/1994
Penn State University (ACHA)
Black
38
Emily Fluke
W
9/3/1992
Middlebury College (NCAA)
Goalie
1
Keira Goin
G
7/22/1994
Utica College (NCAA)
Red
40
Paige Harrington
D
5/28/1993
University of Massachusetts (ACHA)
Buffalo Beauts (NWHL)
Goalie
2
Lindsey Hartfiel
G
12/15/1994
College of St. Scholastica (NCAA)
Black
1
Kristin Lewicki
C/W
6/10/1995
Adrian College (NCAA)
Red
20
Katie Maroney
C/W/D
8/14/1984
Ohio State University (NCAA)
Black
17
Hannah McGowan
C/W
8/11/1992
Adrian College (NCAA)
Neuberg Highlanders (EWHL)
Black
20
Sarah Moe
W
6/10/1980
Gustavus Adolphus College (NCAA)
Minnesota Whitecaps (Ind.)
Red
32
Elizabeth Parker
C/W/D
7/29/1991
Harvard University (NCAA)
Goalie
3
Lindsey Post
G
1/11/1994
University of Alberta (U-Sports)
Goalie
4
Sarah Quigley
G
11/13/1992
Buffalo State College (NCAA)
Red
38
Corey Stearns
C/W
12/27/1990
Princeton University (NCAA)
Black
33
Kathryn Tomaselli
W
5/12/1993
Union College (NCAA)
Boston Pride (NWHL)
Red
36
Courtney Turner
C
6/17/1994
Union College (NCAA)
Black
42
Amie Varano
D
6/18/1994
Sacred Heart University (NCAA)
Black
14
Hayley Williams
C
6/3/1990
Miami University (ACHA)
Brampton Thunder (CWHL)



WORKING ON A DREAM
May 15, 2017 | 3:30 p.m.

Cassie Dunne (left) looks to break out at the NWHL's free agent camp on May 13th

The NWHL's official website published a recap of the free agent camp.
From seasoned veterans to players fresh out of college, 21 players were invited to attend the two-day NWHL Free Agent Camp held at the New England Sports Complex.

The group of forwards, defenders, and goaltenders went through a series of drills, while representatives from around the league scouted the action.

For nearly everyone in the camp, the hope was to be able to continue playing in an organized setting.
Although Dunne was not among the several attendees quoted, she nevertheless got a nice boost through being featured in the photo accompanying the article.



Cassie Dunne defends against Russia's Liudmila Belyakova - a former NWHL player - at World University Games

THE JOURNEY BEGINS
May 11, 2017 | 8:41 p.m.

Dunne, inspired by her bronze medal run while captaining Team USA at World University Games this past season, will attempt to catch on with a professional team this summer, in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), or possibly in Europe. The first step in that process: her invitation to an NWHL free agent camp, set for this weekend at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, MA.

From the linked story:
"I was ecstatic when I received the email to attend the free agent camp," Dunne said. "There is definitely a lot of hard work still ahead of me but I'm honored to be given the opportunity."

"I can only hope that my hard work pays off and I have the same success at the NWHL camp that I did at World University Games camp.

It was the experience at WUG that triggered her current quest.

"Before our big game against Canada, Coach Shelley [Looney] asked the captains to meet and tell her how we were feeling and what the sense in the locker room was," Dunne recalled. "I immediately blurted out, 'During camp in Chicago I fell in love with hockey again and I'm ready to share that excitement with my teammates and help them feel the same way.'"

"Playing against Lindenwood [at WUG camp] reminded me of why I've always continued playing hockey and where my love for the sport came from," she continued. "The game is fast and competitive, it rewards the hard workers, and when the teamwork is cohesive, there's no better feeling in the world."
The NWHL, founded in 2015, is based in the United States and made headlines as the first North American women's league to pay its players (the amounts are less than a full-time job however, and start at $5,000 per year, with every contract carrying a one-season term). Undrafted players new to the league, such as Dunne, will be permitted to sign with any team beginning on June 1st, while returning players and draft picks have been able to re-sign with their previous teams since May 1st.

Meanwhile, the CWHL has one American franchise, the Boston Blades, but is otherwise based in Canada. Its method for stocking rosters differs substantially from the NWHL in that all incoming players first register for the CWHL Draft, a procedure that carries a deadline of August 1st. All registered players will be selected in the draft and all draft picks will have an opportunity to subsequently try out. So, early on in the offseason, more attention is likely to be on the NWHL, which will fill its rosters with contract signings first.

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