Q&A: Women’s Hockey MVP Hilary Knight

The Boston Blades co-captain shares her workout secrets and love for the game.

Hilary Knight in action for the Boston Blades

Hilary Knight in action for the Boston Blades. Photo provided.

The Boston Blades are a professional women’s hockey team and current champions of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. They play their home games in Somerville and are the only non-Canadian team in the league. Blades co-captain Hilary Knight also plays for Team USA, who beat Canada this month for the World Championship title. We caught up with Knight and she told us about her time in the gym, what it’s like playing hockey as a woman, and what her advice is for young girls interested in the sport.

What are your workouts like?

My workouts are hard, but a ton of fun. I am fortunate to work out with fellow teammates or a workout buddy who challenges me. I am currently following a regimen that Mike Boyle has put together at his gym in Woburn. In season we lift three times a week and we have conditioning after our lifts. In addition to our lifting schedule, we also skate at least five times a week. Lifting always begins with a good foam roll on all the major muscle groups and smaller muscles where needed, then a dynamic warmup follows with a short medicine ball circuit.

As for the meat of our lifts: Mondays we have chinups, Olympic lifts, and single leg squats. Tuesdays is a bench and dumbbell push press. Wednesday is usually a full body circuit (we choose one of the three circuits provided to us). Rest and nutrition are also part of my workout routines, and I always grab a protein shake after training sessions and cool down (stretch, foam roll) appropriately.

What is that routine like in off-season vs. the season? It seems like you went directly from season to tournaments.

On average, we usually get a week or two week off per year. Since I am juggling two seasons [the Blades and Team USA], a lot of the training overlaps, and there is not much room for down time. Our schedules are pretty hectic and the Boston Blades just came off a historic season, in which we won the championship. After the championship I had a day off and headed to Lake Placid for Team USA’s pre-world championship training camp. I have had some crazy off-season workout routines throughout the years, but it is safe to say the hardest training comes in the off-season sessions. Our season is so long and demanding that we only have a few months to establish a good training base and build from there.

What does training for the Olympic team involve?

The most important thing is heart. Training for the Olympic team is a demanding experience. I have to love training and competing, which I do! There are so many things that go into training, but setting goals, challenging myself daily, as well as challenging my teammates is a huge portion in training for the Olympic team.

What is it like being a female hockey player in Boston? How were the fans?

It was a fun atmosphere. It is nice to live in a city where people are so passionate about sports and their home teams. Competing in Somerville was a blast. We tried to get out and get involved in the community and build a long lasting relationship with our fans. I enjoyed meeting new people. I am happy that we can share the Clarkson Cup victory with our fans, and bring the title home to Boston.

How violent is the sport?

Hockey is a contact sport, but I think the women’s game is assumed to be identical to the men’s. There is no checking allowed. This style promotes a finesse game, and makes it more challenging to play one’s opponent because we need to figure out how to angle or steer the opposing player rather than skating into her and checking her to the ice. At the more elite level of our sport, the game does become more physical and our skill sets as well as training routines allow us to play a more physically demanding game.

Do you fight?

We are not allowed to fight, and our equipment does not suggest that it would be entertaining either. Female hockey players wear a full cage or full visor on their helmets.

What advice do you have for young girls that are interested in playing hockey?

Try it!  It is a great sport and a ton of fun to play. The ice can seem a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it nothing compares.

Hilary on the ice for team usa.

Hilary on the ice for team usa. Photo provided.