CURTIS AND WHITECAPS CONFIDENT WITH PLAYOFFS LOOMING
By Dan Rice
You may not have known who Jonna Curtis was when the Minnesota Whitecaps joined the NWHL last season, but it’s a pretty safe bet that you know who she is now. Since the Whitecaps have joined the NWHL, Curtis leads the team in scoring, has been an All-Star twice, won the Newcomer of the Year Award, and helped the Whitecaps lift the Isobel Cup in 2019.
A few weeks ago, Curtis played in her second NWHL All-Star Game. After the weekend was complete, she revealed how proud she was to be selected to represent the league at the annual event.
“This is a great group of girls. A little different from last year with everything that’s going on,” said Curtis, “But the people we have here right now are in it for the game and to grow the game. So maybe it was a little better than last year’s knowing that we all have that in mind and are here to help grow the game and have a little fun.”
This season Curtis has been even better than last, and currently is one-third of one of the most dynamic lines in the NWHL alongside Allie Thunstrom and Meaghan Pezon. Curtis and the Whitecaps are looking to finish the 2019-20 season on a high note with a final two-game series at TRIA Rink this weekend against the visiting Connecticut Whale. Fans are encouraged to grab their tickets quickly at whitecaps.nwhl.zone/tickets.
We spoke with Curtis to find out the secret behind her success and to ask what the Whitecaps need to do to repeat as Isobel Cup Champions.
NWHL: At the start of last season you were, with all due respect, an unknown commodity on the Whitecaps with all the decorated players that were on the roster. You had a fantastic season - 19 points, which ranked second in the entire league. You won NWHL Newcomer of the Year. Yet, you’ve already eclipsed your production from last year.
Do you feel like you are a better player this season?
Jonna Curtis: I feel like I have a different role this season, especially since I’ve been playing with Allie Thunstrom. She’s a natural goal scorer, and I like to think of myself as a playmaker. Working with her brings out a different side of my game - I have to bring my ‘A-Game’ every day and be consistent. I think last year I had my ups and downs, and this year I’ve been pretty consistent throughout.
NWHL: Do you think your shiftiness and speed catches defenders off guard?
JC:I may not be the biggest player and because of that I do use my speed to my advantage and take a lot of shots. Sometimes there are bigger girls that I may not be able to get around, even with my speed. There are a lot of great players. I try to take shots from everywhere so my linemates Allie and Pezon can come swooping in (looking for rebounds).
NWHL: That wasn’t your line at the start of the season, correct?
JC:Yeah that’s correct. I couldn’t tell you who I started with!
NWHL: It seems like your line really started clicking at an elite level around the time you returned from your injury when we saw you in New Jersey. In those two games, you didn’t have a point, but since then you’ve been piling up points.
Do you feel like that was the jumping-off point?
JC:I think so. Sometimes you just need a little reboot of the lines to get everyone going again and I think that’s what happened. Hopefully, we can keep it up as we go through the end of the season and into the playoffs.
That first weekend, I definitely wasn’t 100 percent on my game, but all of my success after that has been with the help of my linemates. Those games where I had a goal and two assists - I’d bet that all of our stats are probably similar. I think we have that success because we have been clicking so well together. It’s really been a lot of fun.
NWHL: In your mind what is different about your team this season compared to last season?
JC:I think we had a deep team last season, but this year’s team is maybe even deeper. We can put any line out there, I don’t think we have a first, second, and third line - they’re all equal. I’m not worried when anyone on this team is out on the ice. We’re a very tight-knit group and we really want to bring the Cup back to Minnesota again.
NWHL: Your team might have the most rostered players that have previously won the Isobel Cup, do you think that is an advantage with the playoffs on the horizon?
JC:Maybe, but it still comes down to hard work, and with three weeks or whatever it is left, we need to come to practice and go hard. Practice like it was a game. It’s all going to come down to who is going to show up, and who is going to put the puck in the net? As much as I wish that the experience was an asset for us, I don’t think it really is.
Photo Credit: Tom Morris, Michelle Jay