The first game of a collegiate career always means a lot. Getting a first collegiate goal in the first series of said career is also always a special moment.
To do it front of friends and family makes it all the sweeter.
Michaela Boyle, a native of Reading, Massachusetts, got to experience that expect set of events this weekend. The freshman forward made her debut for the number one team in the nation, Clarkson, who played its opening games of the season at Northeastern, the team Boyle supported as a kid.
"It's so exciting," said Boyle. "Growing up around here, I went to Northeastern a lot. I thought I might go there for a while before I decided to go to Clarkson, and even then I knew we'd see them, I just didn't know it would be so soon."
Boyle was a standout in the Massachusetts high school scene last season with the Reading Rockets, where she led her team to the state semifinals. With 64 points last season, she was one of the top scorers in the entire state.
She chose to play for her public school in her senior season after having played for Austin Prep and the Boston Shamrocks before. Her college team, the Clarkson Golden Knights, supported her decision.
Boyle's history in hockey goes deep. She's spent a lot of time around the senior women's national team, and Meghan Duggan was a main recruiter in her decision to join Clarkson.
So, Boyle's Boston debut wasn't just another debut; on hand to see her first game at Matthews Arena were the likes of Dana Trivigno of the Boston Pride, her former high school teammates, and of course, her family.
"It was amazing," she said. "It was the coolest feeling to curl back to the bench and take a glance over my shoulder and see my mom and my uncle and aunt and family there. My dad said after the game he teared up a bit, seeing his little girl's dream come true. It's something I will never forget."
Boyle's goal came on a Clarkson rush up ice where she tipped in a pass from the crease. She said that the speed of the game has been adjustment, but showed plenty on her tally.
"The game is a lot faster," she said. "Especially after my last season at Reading. But my teammates and coaches have been supportive and helped me a lot."
After playing in the high school and junior ranks the last few years. Boyle found herself on the fourth line for the Knights on Saturday. She had only one shift in the first period, and not much ice time overall.
That in itself is an adjustment to make, but so far, she's making the most of what she can get on the ice.
"The pace is the biggest difference," she said. "Everyone on the ice is quick and fast. It comes down to skating an extra five minutes after practice and doing everything to stay in shape."
Getting that first goal so close to home and in front of her family was special, but from a hockey standpoint, having that goal occur in the first series of the season also helped Boyle prove to herself that she can score at this level, no matter her role with the team.
Boyle's goal was the third in a stretch of three goals in 2:05, and the fourth overall in a 5-1 victory over the Huskies.
"It helps a bit with confidence," she said. "Me and my linemates were getting chances, we knew we might get one, I was just lucky. I really couldn't be luckier playing with them."
There are lots of ways Boyle is working to improve her game at a higher level. The left handed shooting forward has aspirations to play professionally, and has been dedicated for years to being in hockey full time.
Being involved with a team looking to defend a national title, and a roster filled with some of the most talented players in the nation, has Boyle in that mindset as well.
"Everyone comes to the rink and wants to be there and defend the title," she said. "To come into an established program like this is incredible. Everyone is team first, it's a really special group."
"It's just focusing on the little things. Things you've been working on since you were right years old, like hitting the net with shots, move your feet, keep skating, just things like that."We are entirely reader supported. Consider supporting this work on PATREON or making a secure, one-time donation via PAYPAL.