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(Photo by Matt Raney - NWHL)

(Photo by Matt Raney – NWHL)

The Connecticut Whale will have a new head coach for the 2017-2018 National Women’s Hockey League season, as Ryan Equale will be replacing Heather Linstad behind the bench.

Equale, a Wilton, Connecticut native has remained active as a coach and teacher of hockey the last 22 years, following a career in the minor leagues. The 1996 University of Connecticut graduate, left UConn as a First-Team All-American, after leading winning the 1995-1996, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Division-1 scoring championship, and finished third on the school’s all-time scoring list.

During that final season, he put up 21 goals and 42 assists in 25 games. After college, he went on to a four-year career professional career with the Roanoke Express and the Chesapeake Icebreakers of the ECHL and the Odessa Jackalopes and Lake Charles Ice Pirates of the Western Professional Hockey League. He was voted one of the captains numerous times in his career.

Equale said, “It is a true privilege to be named head coach of the Connecticut Whale. As the father of three young children, accepting this opportunity was an easy decision. My children have been attending NWHL games since the inaugural season and love watching the talented women of this league, including a few that my children have been fortunate enough to have had as coaches over the years.”  

The level four, certified USA Hockey coach, has coached both boys and girls in some of the premier hockey organizations within the state of Connecticut. Two of those clubs include the Connecticut Yankees and the Mid-Fairfield Stars.

As a coach with the Stars, he was part of the staff of the 2010-2011 Tier-1, Under-14 National Championship Team. He has also helped Stars teams over the past four seasons, win one silver and three bronze medals. In each of the seven seasons he has been with the Stars, they have won the Tier-1 State Championships and Tier-1 Regional Championships.

Equale added, “For the past 10 years, I have focused on developing young women at the level from U-12 to U-19 in order to help them achieve their academic and athletic goals.  That experience, coupled with my own experience as a professional player, is something that I am confident will help build a positive culture of high performance, accountability and results.”    

Linstad, has done a good job since taking over control of the Whale in January of 2016, but has had to step away from her duties behind the bench to take care of her business interests.

Commissioner, Dani Rylan said, “Heather Linstad is a trailblazer for women’s hockey. The Whale and the NWHL are honored that Heather has been a part of our league, and we all learned so much from her. It says everything you need to know about Heather’s class and loyalty that she has been invaluable throughout the offseason by assisting in the transition to the new coaching staff. Thank you, Heather, for being a pioneer of this great game.”    

Linstad added, “I want to thank Commissioner Dani Rylan for the tremendous opportunity to be a part of the NWHL and lead the Connecticut Whale. I truly appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the athletes who represented the Connecticut Whale during my tenure. Unfortunately, with my work commitments in Massachusetts, I am unable to continue as head coach. I want to wish the league and the athletes best wishes for continued growth and success, and I want to thank all of the fans of the NWHL for their commitment to the league.”

The NWHL will begin season three in October, as the Whale, New York Riveters and Boston Pride will take one two games each against the Russian Women’s Team in the NWHL/Team Russia Summit. All four teams will also play their full slate of home games, as well as a few neutral site matchups during the 2017-2018 season.

One of the neutral venues has been decided on as the league will return to the Pittsburgh area and the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. 19 games during the season will be live streamed across the social media platform of Twitter.

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