Jake Mastel, the coach of the NWHL’s league-leading Connecticut Whale, resigned from his post as the club’s bench boss Thursday and was replaced by assistant Lisa Giovanelli Zuba for Thursday’s practice.
According to Kaitlin Cimini, who first reported Mastel’s departure, the move comes little more than a month after the Whale watched their then-GM, Harry Rosenholtz, step down from his post. Rosenholtz, who stepped down Dec. 24, was replaced by NWHL COO George Spiers and the league has yet to find a replacement for him.
While the specifics surrounding Mastel’s resignation are unknown, the 45-year-old stepping away comes with his team one of the two favorites to win the championship in the league’s inaugural season. Through 13 games, the Whale are 11-2-0 with a plus-14 goal differential and boast two of the top five scorers in the league in Kaleigh Fratkin and Kelli Stack.
Before Mastel came to the NWHL to coach the Whale, he coached two girls youth teams — the U19 and U13/14 squads — for the Mid Fairfield Connecticut Stars. He also coached a few NWHL players at the Women’s Beantown Classic.
"It's such a rare, unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what's going to be a fantastic opportunity for women to continue hockey after they've graduated from college," Mastel said when he was hired by the Whale in August. “Our goal is to set a precedent and let the team grow from there. We're going to be in our infancy, and we can build going forward.”
Mastel’s resignation comes the day after the Whale and New York Riveters made the first trade in NWHL history. The deal saw the Whale acquire goaltender Shenae Lundberg in exchange for goaltender Chelsea Laden.
The NWHL has not officially announced Mastel’s resignation nor released details on why he has chosen to step away from the team.