The Connecticut Whale, one of the four founding members of the National Women’s Hockey League, has been sold to Shared Hockey Enterprises, a privately owned company headed by Needham’s Tobin Kelly.
The sale, approved Monday by the NWHL’s Board of Governors, makes the Whale the third organization in the six-team league to become privately owned. The Whale had been owned and operated since their inaugural season in 2015 by Women’s Hockey Partners, which also owns the Buffalo Beauts, Metropolitan Riveters, and Minnesota Whitecaps.
“It has been our goal since transitioning to a joint venture model in October to find strong ownership groups who believe in the NWHL and recognize the growth potential for the league and professional women’s hockey,” said NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia.
“Tobin’s commitment to supporting our athletes, building community partnerships, and enhancing the fan experience represents another significant milestone in league history as we prepare for our seventh season.”
The leader of the investor group, Kelly has served as managing director, president, and COO for a number companies while maintaining a strong hockey background. He is the co-founder of Arc Hockey, an equipment and apparel company, and established the New Hampshire Youth Pond Hockey Festival, the largest outdoor youth tournament in the United States.
Kelly, a Harvard alumnus, also has coached girls hockey at the youth and high school levels.
“All of us who have established SHE are excited to continue the amazing growth made by the NWHL and to fulfill the NWHL’s goal of providing the opportunity for elite women athletes to earn a living wage playing the sport they love,” said Kelly. “Finalizing the purchase of the Whale with my co-investors is the culmination of a dream that I have held for decades.”
Based in Danbury, the Whale join the Boston Pride and Toronto Six as privately owned teams in the NWHL.
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