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Sidney Morin, a defenseman for the 2018 gold medal-winning U.S. women's Olympic hockey team, signed a two-year contract with the Whitecaps on Thursday, becoming the first player to sign with the Premier Hockey Federation team for the 2022-23 season.

Morin, a former Minnetonka High School and Minnesota Duluth standout, played the 2021-22 season with Lugano in the Swiss women's league, amassing 20 goals and 28 assists in 25 games. She spent the four previous years in the Swedish women's league, along with playing for Team USA in 2018 and 2019. In Sweden, she had 184 points over four seasons and twice was named the league's top defenseman.

"I have seen the growth of the league from afar and felt that the timing was right to move back to the place I was born and raised in," Morin, 26, said in a statement. "Minnesota is a special place, and I am excited to return home and play with the team that has meant so much to young girl hockey players here in Minnesota."

Said Whitecaps coach Ronda Engelhardt: "Her resume speaks for itself and is undoubtedly one any coach would want, but what impresses me most is her passion to be part of bringing the Whitecaps to the next level. She will be an impact player for us on the blue line and hopefully for years to come."

The PHF, formerly known as the National Women's Hockey League, allowed all of its players to become unrestricted free agents on May 1. In addition, the league eliminated its draft, and college players who have exhausted their eligibility can sign with any team.