The Toronto Furies unveiled their 2018-19 roster this morning and to call this the new-look Furies would be an understatement. After a disappointing 2017-18 season that saw the team miss the playoffs for the first time since they were founded in 2010, it’s clear that the leadership decided changes were necessary.
The lineup includes nine of Toronto’s 14 2018 draftees, four free agents, and three veterans returning from the Olympics. Of the the 2017-18 25 player roster, only nine players are returning.
Although there were a few other contenders for the position, it’s no surprise that Shea Tiley, Elaine Chuli and Amanda Makela are the three goaltenders on the roster. We’ve gone on at length about Tiley’s chops, and as a pre-signing, her spot was pretty much guaranteed. Free agent acquisition Elaine Chuli went on quite a run as the starter for the Vanke Rays last season, and of course Makela ended last season as the starter for the Furies.
Captain Natalie Spooner returns from her year with Team Canada. This pre-season she’s been on a line with fellow Olympian Sarah Nurse and the Furies third pre-signing of 2018, Brittany Howard. That’s... quite a line. To get a sense of the team’s depth, it looks like last season’s top scorer Carolyne Prévost may start the season on the third line.
There are a lot of new faces on defence, an area that’s been somewhat of a weakness for the Furies in the past. Annie was particularly pleased that Toronto managed to snag both Julia Fedeski and Mellissa Channell in the draft this year, and Emma Greco’s no slouch either. Add in returning Olympians Renata Fast (Team Canada) and Sena Suzuki (Team Japan) as well as the league’s most experienced veteran, Shannon Moulson, and opposing teams may find the Furies’ blueline a lot more of a challenge this year.
Newcomer Jordan Hampton, who was on the training camp roster, has arrived in a trade with the Worcester Blades “for an undisclosed salary cap amount”, the first CWHL trade in history for salary cap space. Anissa Gamble was on the Calgary Inferno roster last season, but details of that acquisition have not yet been released.
Carlee Campbell gave birth to her first child this past weekend - congratulations, Carlee! This will keep her out of the lineup for a while, although possibly not all season. Katie Gaskin starts the season on injured reserve as well.
So, who’s missing?
Alexa Aramburu signed with the Metropolitan Riveters just a couple of weeks ago.
Hayley Williams and Sonja van der Bliek have both headed to Europe, Williams to Russia with SK Mountain and van der Bliek to the SDHL with Brynäs IF.
The Furies announced earlier in the month that another four players (Danielle Gagné, Jessica O’Grady, Cassidy Delainey, and Ella Stewart) would not be returning for various personal and health reasons. Delainey will continue her hockey career as a skills coach for the reinstated UNB Reds.
That leaves the cuts, many of them surprising. Jenna Dingeldein was third in team scoring for 2017-18. Sydney Kidd was only just drafted in 2017, and like Brooke Beazer, who returned to the Furies last year after a multi-year absence, was a useful player both on defence and at forward. Michelle Saunders, a veteran defender, was a fan favourite. Alessandra Bianchi was also a 2017 draft pick but her point totals—one assist in 25 games—make her one of the more predictable cuts. Per the release, all players not on the 25 player roster will be offered a spot on the 40 player roster, so there’s a chance we’ll see some of these players return.
The 2018 draft was a particularly deep one for the Furies, that they’re keeping their top six picks isn’t much of a surprise. That said, there are a few dark horses on this roster. Rookies Mackenzie MacNeil, Megan Quinn and Alysha Burriss will all be players to watch. Have GM Sami Jo Small and head coach Courtney Kessel chosen wisely? Only time, and several hockey games, will tell.
The Toronto Furies kick off the 2018-19 season at the Mastercard Centre on Saturday October 13 at 7:00 pm against the Shenzhen Rays. Single game and season tickets are available now!