Leading up to the 2018-19 National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) season, we'll be prepping fans for what lies ahead with capsule previews of each team. Today, we focus on the Boston Pride.
What Happened Last Season
Last season was a disappointing one for the Pride, who finished third in the league. They won just four games all season long, and had a minus-15 goal differential. The absence of Olympic players certainly hurt Boston, who managed to score just 33 goals all season long. The sudden roster shift hurt them in the end; last season was their first not making it to the Isobel Cup championship. Their goal will be to return to the championship game this season.
Paul Mara, who was an assistant coach with the Olympic gold-medal winning USWNT, will serve as head coach of the Pride this season. He has been with the U.S. national program since 2016.
"My experience coaching women's hockey with the national program has been so fulfilling, and I can’t wait to get started at the pro level with the Pride," Mara said. "We’ll be an up-tempo team. I want my players to be creative offensively, and we’ll be responsible in our own end. I'm confident we’ll have a very successful team that’s also a lot of fun to play for and to watch."
He'll be joined by NWHL alumna Marissa Gedman, who played on Boston's blueline for the past three seasons.
This Season's Roster
Forwards: Field, Trivigno, Krizova, Skarupa, Dempsey, Brand, Pelkey, Wasylk, Marvin, Parker, Smelker
Defense: Gagliardi, Miano, Kelly, Bender, Fratkin, Souliotis, Johnson, Burns
Goalies: Burt, Litchfield, Ott
The Pride can still add up to three forwards/defense.
Sat., 10/13 vs. MET
Sat., 10/20 vs. CT
Sat., 10/27 vs. MET
Sat., 11/17 vs. BUF
Sun., 11/18 vs. BUF
Sat., 12/1 @ MIN
Sun., 12/2 @ MIN
Sun., 12/9 @ MET
Sun., 12/30 @ CT
Sat., 1/5 @ BUF
Sat., 1/12 vs. MIN
Sun., 1/20 @ MET
Sat., 1/26 @ BUF
Sat., 2/2 vs. CT
Sun., 2/24 @ CT
Sat., 3/2 vs. MIN
Like the Riveters, the Pride have maintained much of last season's roster. With players like Gigi Marvin, Amanda Pelkey, and Dana Trivigno back in the black and gold, they appear to be more of a contender than last season's team.
Adding Katie Burt in net shakes things up in the goaltending position for Boston, where it's mostly been the Brittany Ott show for the past three seasons. Seeing how coach Paul Mara chooses to work with his netminders will be something to watch; Ott could still be the main netminder, but I think we'll see time split a little more evenly between her and Burt, with Litchfield staying in the third goalie slot.
One point where the Pride could have an advantage: they play the first five games of the season at home. If they can use the home-ice to their advantage, those first few games could put them in a good position early on in the season. With such a short season, every game really matters, and every lost point could make the difference between finishing first and finishing last.
Who are this season's Pride? With a few new players in tow, and a new head coach – something that doesn't exactly come new to Boston – it's another wildcard. Having the Olympians back makes Boston a stronger team than last season, so they should be able to manage more than four wins... and if they can do that, they should see themselves in better position by the regular season's end.