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 National Women's Soccer League

Last Week around the Leagues

by Fran Stuchbury
May 7, 2024 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)


This past week the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves signed a three-year affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, Gotham FC defender Kelley O'Hara announced her retirement at the end of the National Women's Soccer League season, and Billings Outlaws owner Steven Titus called on Arena Football League Commissioner Lee Hutton III to resign. Highlights from this week come from the American Hockey League, Professional Women's Hockey League, Western Hockey League, North American Hockey League, United States Hockey League, National Women's Soccer League, Major League Soccer, Canadian Premier League, Major Arena Soccer League, Canadian Football League, United Football League, Arena Football League, Indoor Football League, Women's National Basketball Association, NBA G League, National Lacrosse League, and Ultimate Frisbee Association.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League

The Chicago Wolves announced that the American Hockey League organization has signed a three-year partnership agreement with the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes that begins with the upcoming 2024-25 season. The affiliation renews the relationship between the Wolves and the Hurricanes, who were paired from '20-23 before Chicago became an independent AHL team during the '23-24 campaign. Meanwhile, Carolina is operating without an AHL affiliate this season. "We're looking forward to being affiliated again and moving forward," Wolves general manager Wendell Young said. "It's for the benefit of the Chicago Wolves, the Carolina Hurricanes and the American Hockey League that we have 32 NHL teams and 32 AHL affiliates. It's good to be partnered with the Hurricanes. ‚¬Â

2024-25 Affiliation Announcement

ECHL

The ECHL announced that the League's Board of Governors has approved the Transfer of Controlling Interest in the Trois-Rivières Lions Membership from Deacon Sports and Entertainment to Spire Hockey, LLC. "The arrival of Spire Hockey in Trois-Rivieres will mark a new day for the Lions," said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. "Their ownership and management team have a proven successful track-record in the League, and we are excited for the players and fans for the future of ECHL hockey in the market. ‚¬Â "Spire Hockey is thrilled to expand our footprint and begin immersing ourselves in the Trois-Riviéres market," said Spire Hockey co-owner Jeff Dickerson. "We take tremendous pride in being pillars of the communities where our teams call home and are wholly committed to being an organization that everyone in Trois Rivières can be proud of. It's a new day and Spire Hockey is eager to write a new chapter in the Lions' history. ‚¬Â

The Worcester Railers Hockey Club proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders and Head Coach & General Manager Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman have mutually decided to mutually part ways. Lavallee-Smotherman served as the head coach and general manager of the Railers during each the 2022-23 & 2023-24 seasons. He recorded a 66-66-9-3 record, finishing fifth in the ECHL's North Division twice. Lavallee-Smotherman was the captain of the Railers during the 2021-22 season, setting the Railers franchise record for goals scored in a single season (30).

Southern Professional Hockey League

The Fayetteville Marksmen, proud members of the SPHL, named Kyle Sharkey Director of Hockey Operations and the eighth head coach in team history. ‚¬ÂKyle Sharkey has put in the work for this organization over the past year and has shown a ton of direction for the hockey operations in Fayetteville," said Marksmen Owner and CEO Chuck Norris. "Aside from what he brings in hockey experience, which includes two championships in this league as a player, Kyle is a good man who values a winning culture. He knows the type of players and people that we need to be successful and competitive on the ice, and I'm confident that he is the right choice to become the head coach of the Marksmen. ‚¬Â Sharkey, 31, served behind the bench as an assistant coach for Fayetteville during the 2023-24 season, directing the defensive structure of the team. Prior to joining the Marksmen, he filled the same position as the assistant coach of the NAHL's Minot Minotauros in Minot, North Dakota.

Andrew Harrison has resigned as Interim Head Coach of the Knoxville Ice Bears, effective immediately. Harrison was elevated from his assistant coaching position to replace Brent Clarke, who resigned on Nov. 5 after starting his second season in Knoxville 0-6. A search for a new head coach has already begun. "We are grateful for Andrew's hard work and dedication to our organization," said Ice Bears President and General Manager Mike Murray. "Our goal now is to move forward and put our organization in a position to succeed on the ice. We continued to receive tremendous support from our fans and partners this past season and we intend to provide a high standard of excellence from our team moving forward."

Professional Women's Hockey League

Chasing history. Chasing the Championship. The stage is nearly set for the 2024 PWHL Playoffs.

Western Hockey League

Continuing his domination at the Western Conference Championship, the Detroit Red Wings prospect Nate Danielson has been named the WHL Player of the Week!

Guiding the Prince George Cougars to their best regular season finish since moving to Northern B.C. for the 1994-95 season, Mark Lamb is the recipient of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the WHL Coach of the Year.

North American Hockey League

The North American Hockey League's (NAHL) Board of Governors has approved a membership to operate in Elmira, NY. The Elmira Aviators will compete in the East Division beginning in the 2024-25 season. The Aviators, who's name honors the area's contributions to the development of air travel and known as the "Soaring Capital of the World", are the second NAHL team based in New York."We are excited to be a cornerstone in the efforts to bring a renaissance to downtown Elmira and Chemung County," Aviators owner Marc Stemerman said. The Aviators will play out of First Arena, a 3,784-seat multi-purpose facility located in downtown Elmira. First Arena features two ice surfaces, a full-service restaurant and bar, 31 luxury suites, meeting/community rooms, and other amenities.

New hockey team announced to play at First Arena next season

United States Hockey League

The Sioux Falls Stampede is excited to announce the hiring of Ryan Cruthers as the team's newest Head Coach. Cruthers joins the Stampede as the tenth Head Coach in team history after spending the last year at the helm of the Fayetteville Marksmen of the Southern Professional Hockey League in Fayetteville, N.C. Under his leadership, both as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, the Marksmen marked a record of 31-19-6-0 and landed a spot in the SPHL Playoffs. "First, I would like to thank the ownership and staff for putting their trust in me to be the next head coach of the Stampede," said Cruthers. "I am excited to return to the Sioux Falls community after spending the 2022-23 season here and getting to know our passionate fan base." He continued, "it's clear what the Stampede vision is as an organization and I am excited to help lead it in that direction. Tony and his scouting staff have attracted top tier talent that we will continue to develop daily on an individual basis while working towards our team goals. ‚¬Â

Lennie Childs, the new head coach for the Omaha Lancers, joins USHL in Focus.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League

U.S. Women's National Team defender, Olympic gold medalist, two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion, two-time National Women's Soccer League champion, and global soccer icon Kelley O'Hara announced that the 2024 NWSL season with NJ/NY Gotham FC will be the last of her storied career. "I just want to say thank you to every single person who has cheered me on and supported me through the years," said O'Hara in her official announcement video with Just Women's Sports. "I've been playing soccer since I was four years old, and it's been an absolute joy. But as they say, 'Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.' And I know there will be a lot of tears by me and probably some of y'all, but I hope there are more smiles. Love y'all."

Kelley O'Hara NWSL Career Highlights

Utah Royals FC announced that it has mutually agreed to part ways with Assistant Coach Vanessa Mann for personal and family reasons. Utah Royals FC thanks Mann for her service in reviving the Club and wish her the best in her future endeavors. "We appreciate Vanessa for everything she has done for our Club this year" URFC General Manager Kelly Cousins said. "This mutually-agreed upon termination will allow her to seek and identify future opportunities that better suit her personal and family needs. ‚¬Â

Major League Soccer

Watch highlights of Inter Miami's 6-2 win over New York Red Bulls that featured Lionel Messi recording a goal and five assists in the second half and Luis Suarez netting a hat trick. Messi is the first player in MLS history to have 5 assists in a single match.

Canadian Premier League

Goals of the Month for April

USL Super League

Carolina Ascent Football Club announced Vicky Bruce as the first signing in club history ahead of the 2024/25 USL Super League season, pending league and federation approval. The defender returns home to the Carolinas after playing professional soccer abroad for seven years in Australia and Europe. "From the beginning, we have talked about building a club by the Carolinas, for the Carolinas and connecting with the community in everything we do," Head Coach Philip Poole explained. "To bring Vicky back to the Carolinas is such an exciting moment for everyone connected to the club. Vicky is a leader on and off the field and will be visible in our community. I am thrilled to announce Vicky and what it means for her and the young girls playing soccer in the Carolinas. ‚¬Â A proven champion, Bruce returns to the states and her hometown to compete with Carolina Ascent FC. Bruce spent the 2023/24 season playing for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian A-League, starting all 22 matches and recording three goals in the campaign.

Major Arena Soccer League

Mexico's largest state also has the most powerful team in the Major Arena Soccer League: Chihuahua Savage. The "Salvajes" beat the Kansas City Comets 5-4 and won the MASL two-time championship, to the joy of a packed Corner Sport Arena, which supported its team at all times, even to the rhythm of live mariachi. With the score at 4-4 and only 1:20 seconds left, Hugo Puentes took the ball on the left side of the area and in a half-turn he scored from goalkeeper Neto, to score the difference. "What I am experiencing is what you dream of as a child, being a champion in a professional team, I am very grateful to God because he allows me to be a two-time champion," said Puentes, who added two points in the game and was also elected the Most Valuable Player of the Final, "the MVP belongs to all my teammates, it's not just mine, I was given the chance to score the winning goal, but this is a team effort. ‚¬Â

Under Review - Ron Newman Cup Finals Edition: Was it a handball on Berto Palmer? Phil Lavanco and Ryan Cigich are back for the final episode of Under Review for the season! The duo reviewed the action from the Ron Newman Cup Finals including the most controversial decision of Berto Palmer's handball. Much more action packed in this episode of Under Review!

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League

Billings Outlaws owner Steven Titus breaks down the issues facing the league and criticizes Arena Football League Commissioner Lee Hutton III. Titus is calling on Hutton to step down immediately and be replaced with leadership that can help the league survive for the future.

Canadian Football League

Linebacker Joel Dublanko is the first overall selection in the 2024 Canadian Football League (CFL) Draft. The Edmonton Elks drafted the former University of Cincinnati Bearcat and Aberdeen, Wash., product. Joel Dublanko (LB). Dublanko spent the 2023 season with the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL, appearing in seven games, totaling 27 total tackles.

"We are excited to have a player of Joel's calibre in our building. High football IQ, leadership, a winner and a high character individual is what we're getting," says Elks assistant general manager Geroy Simon.

Dublanko played five seasons for the Cincinnati Bearcats (2017-21), where he earned All-AAC First Team honours as a graduate student in 2021. He also served as a team captain and led the team with 113 tackles in his final season. In 63 career games for the Bearcats, the Aberdeen, Wash., native finished with 233 total tackles, 22 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles. Dublanko was also a part of Cincinnati's back-to-back American Athletic Conference championships in 2020 and 2021.

The Elks kicked off the 2024 CFL Draft with all the rounds wrapped up, Farhan Lalji, Duane Forde, Marshal Ferguson and Jim Barker share their takeaways

Five Canadian football icons and a pair of distinguished builders will join the hallowed halls of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (CFHOF) and Museum in 2024. Three of the Canadian Football League's (CFL) all-time receivers in Weston Dressler, S.J. Green and Chad Owens, will be joined by cornerback Marvin Coleman and defensive end Vince Goldsmith in the Player Category. To be added in the Builder Category are coaching legend Ray Jauch and one of Canada's greatest proponents of touch football, Ed Laverty, who will be inducted posthumously. "The Class of 2024 has shaped our game beyond record books and accolades," said CFHOF Executive Director Eric Noivo. "They are heroes to young football players and athletes; they are tremendous leaders who have shared their invaluable time and vast knowledge; they are steadfast champions who helped expand our game to reach more people and more communities.

United Football League

The Birmingham Stallions became the first team to secure a playoff spot in the United Football League (UFL) Conference Championship game with their 39-21 win over the Memphis Showboats. The 6-0 Stallions also established a modern USFL/XFL record as the fastest team in history to clinch a playoff berth. This remarkable achievement underscores the team's consistent performance and determination throughout the season.

UFL Top 10 Plays from Week 6

Hakeem Butler joins UFL Today with hosts Daniel Dopp and Joe Gioia. He tells us why the BattleHawks have been so successful this season.

Indoor Football League

IFL Plays of the Week 7

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association

Check out highlights Caitlin Clark's WNBA preseason debut with the Indiana Fever.

Candace Parker will always be a WNBA Legend

NBA G League

"That's what this game is about. Giving back to the next generation so that this game can continue to grow." Go behind the scenes with G League Ignite veterans Norris Cole, Will Davis and Admon Gilder as they talk about their role as leaders and mentors for Ignite's NBA Draft prospects in Passing the Torch.

LACROSSE

National Lacrosse League

The National Lacrosse League announced that the 2024 NLL Finals between the third-seeded Albany FireWolves and defending NLL champion Buffalo Bandits will begin on Friday, May 17 at 7 p.m. ET at MVP Arena in Albany, N.Y. The best-of-three Finals will continue Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET, at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. A winner-take-all Game 3, if necessary, will be played in Albany on Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. ET. Both teams completed sweeps of their respective NLL Semifinal series today to set up the Upstate New York NLL Finals matchup. Albany defeated the second-seeded San Diego Seals 13-10 at MVP Arena after winning Game 1 14-12 on Friday at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. Buffalo upended top-seeded Toronto Rock, 10-8, at KeyBank Center today after winning 12-4 at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario on Friday.

Leading the pack Alex Simmons was BIG (3G, 4A) as the Albany FireWolves completed the sweep of the Seals and move on to the NLL Finals. They take the 13-10 win at home!

The Bandits secure their shot at a Championship Repeat with a fourth quarter Banditland will NEVER forget!

Premier Lacrosse League

ESPN will present the entire 2024 season of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) powered by Ticketmaster, featuring 17 games across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, and all 46 games streaming live on ESPN+. "Lacrosse on TV every weekend this summer is a major testament to ESPN's investment in the PLL," said Paul Rabil, Co-Founder and President of the Premier Lacrosse League. "We're setup for an extraordinary season. ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will showcase the world's best players representing their home cities in more innovative ways than ever before, with all games streamed on ESPN+. Nothing better than that. ‚¬Â

BASEBALL

Major League Baseball today announced that the MLB Draft League has been extended through the 2030 season. The MLB Draft League has become the premier destination for draft-eligible players each summer, providing opportunities for hundreds of players to be evaluated by MLB Club scouts and to receive unparalleled player development resources. The league's founding members, the Frederick Keys (Frederick, MD), Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, OH), State College Spikes (State College, PA), Trenton Thunder (Trenton, NJ), West Virginia Black Bears (Morgantown, WV) and Williamsport Crosscutters (Williamsport, PA) will remain in the MLB Draft League and the league is planning to expand by two teams in the coming seasons. The six current members will start their 80-game 2024 schedule on June 4th, with Trenton hosting State College, West Virginia hosting Frederick and Williamsport hosting Mahoning Valley.

Check out the Top 5 plays in Minor League Baseball from April 25-May 1

OTHER SPORTS

Ultimate Frisbee Association

The Top 10 plays from the opening weekend of the 2024 UFA regular season!

Did we miss anything newsworthy or fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.


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National Women's Soccer League Stories from May 7, 2024


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