Courtesy of the NWHL
New York, N.Y. -- In an historic move, the NWHL and New York Riveters signed former Providence College women's hockey player Janine Weber (Innsbruck, Austria) to the first free agent contract in league history (June 11). Weber inked a one-year deal and becomes the first of 72 players that will join the NWHL this summer as the league embarks on its inaugural season in 2015-16. As a graduate student, Weber played the 2013-14 season with the Friars.
"It's awesome to be part of something as big and exciting as the NWHL," Weber said happily.
"When I first heard about the league, I was hoping to be able to join and I'm very happy to sign a contract with the Riveters since it's very exciting to be living and playing in New York City."
Weber joins the Riveters after playing one season for the Boston Blades in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). Weber recorded 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 17 games with the Blades last season -- registering a plus-11 rating in the process.
Of the signing, league commissioner and founder Dani Rylan said, "Today marks a historic day in the progression of our organization. The NWHL is committed to providing a place for the best players in the world to showcase their talent."
Rylan, who will also serve as general manager of the New York franchise, is optimistic about Weber's on-ice impact.
"Janine is a big power forward, who has a great net-front presence and knack for scoring big goals," Rylan said of Weber. "The New York Riveters are thrilled to welcome Janine to the team and we are excited to watch her game continue to grow."
Rylan is correct when she says Weber scores big goals, as the powerful 5'10" Austrian forward clinched the 2015 Clarkson Cup with an overtime goal over the Montreal Stars.
It marked the second Clarkson Cup in the CWHL's history and the first time a European player notched an overtime winning goal. For her feat, the Hockey Hall of Fame requested Weber's stick and has it on display in Toronto.
Becoming the first player to sign in the NWHL is quite the accomplishment, considering Weber comes from a country with only 673 registered female players, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
"When I started playing boys hockey at six years old there was no women's hockey in Austria," Weber said of her native country. "I never thought that one day I would be able to play hockey professionally."
Weber's career began in the EWHL as a member of the Vienna Sabres, accumulating a staggering 182 points (111 goals, 71 assists) in 83 career games -- including two championships.
To further her career and play with talent commensurate to her own, Weber joined the Providence College Friars for the 2013-14 season, as she was only eligible to play one year in the NCAA.
Following that brief stint with Providence, Weber was selected in the 9th round -- 41st overall, by Boston in the 2014 CWHL draft.
Speaking of the improbability of becoming a professional hockey player, Weber remarked, "I think it shows girls overseas that it doesn't matter where you come from and how popular women's hockey is in your home country.
"By working hard, you can make your dreams come true. "
Weber is also a long-standing member of the Austrian women's national team, making her debut in 2008. Since then, she's competed at seven IIHF World Championships. According to the Austrian Hockey Federation, Weber is responsible for 62 points (43 goals, 19 assists) in 90 games for her country.
The NWHL's free agency period will end on August 17th, while the entry draft will take place on June 20th for players entering their senior year of college.
-- GO FRIARS --
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