For NWHL’s Boston Pride, Blazing Speed Will Be Key
In all the excitement and speculation over the National Women’s Hockey League‘s inaugural season—that is, what the rosters, jerseys, schedules, salaries, and championship trophy will look like—it’s easy forget that in a few scant weeks, hockey will be played.
In Boston, the hockey will be fast. Scary fast.
“I think it’s going to be a highly skilled game that we’re going to play,” assistant coach Lauren McAuliffe says. “We have some very skilled players, and we have a lot of speed, especially up front just looking at the roster and seeing some of the quickest players I’ve ever coached or have seen play.”
At the Boston Pride’s first Media Day at Allied Veterans Rink in Everett on Tuesday, players fielded questions, took headshots, and received fittings from Bauer, who—along with British Columbia-based custom stick manufacturer Base Hockey—will provide the club with its equipment.
“I think it’ll be a quick game,” says McAuliffe, a Burlington High School math teacher and former co-captain of the Harvard Crimson. “I think we’ll figure out our lines so that they’re complimenting each other, and I think it’ll be very offensive.”
“Team speed, as well as individual speed, is something that we’re really looking for,” general manager Hayley Moore says. “Speed really kills. If you can move the puck as well as skate faster than your opponents, then you’re going to be pretty successful.”
Moore says speed played a large role in the team’s draft, as evidenced by the selection of forward Amanda Pelkey—the first player to sign with the Pride. Though only 5-foot-3, the former Catamount has made her superlative speed a key facet of her game on her way to becoming the University of Vermont’s all-time leading scorer.
“Our team is definitely a really, really fast team. A lot of us have played together before, and I think they’re all very fast players,” Pelkey says. “It starts from the back going forward. We have really strong goaltenders. Our D, I think we’re solid all the way around. It’ll give me confidence that in the D-zone, we can get it out and then create some offensive chances,”
The Pride will have little to worry about between the pipes, with a roster boasting Brittany Ott, who won the 2015 Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades of the CWHL; Lauren Slebodonick, the winningest goaltender in Cornell’s history; and Kelsie Fralick, who notched a .932 save percentage during her time at Connecticut College.
“I think our team’s going to have a lot of confidence in all of our goaltenders, so it’s going to give them some more confidence to take some chances,” Moore says. “But defensively, we’re pretty dense as well. We have a lot of talent back there. We’re pretty confident any risks we want to take offensively, we’ll be able to recover from.”
The Pride’s star-studded roster—comprised of, as of now, eight members of the Blades Clarkson Cup team—is turning heads across the fledgling league. Moore says she’s received more than a few chirps from the other GMs.
“I’ve heard a couple of comments about playing us, and I think they’re a little nervous,” Moore says with a wry smile. “But every team is strong and we all have our strengths. I know that every game is going to be a battle, but there’s definitely a little bit of that jabbing going on between each of us all in good fun. They recognize the talent we have here in Boston.”
Though the season starts in October, the Pride will have to wait until November 22 for their home-opener at Harvard’s freshly renovated, 3,095-seat Bright-Landry Center in Allston.