The Bantam Cider Company tasting room was awash with Blades players, staff, friends, family and fans alike, each eager for the new season to begin.
With the amount of turnover in the off-season, it’s hard to see this new squad as the same one that won the Clarkson Cup last year, but the influx of new players has veterans looking forward to the new season.
"It’s exciting to start playing games with everyone," said returning goaltender Genevieve Lacasse. She continued, stressing the importance of teamwork in the upcoming season.
"It’s going to be a bit different than last year. It’s going to come down to use playing as a blue collar, hard working team. Everyone as a unit, instead of relying on a couple of key players it's really going to be everyone’s responsibility," she said.
Lacasse admitted that her season this year will be much different than last year’s.
"I feel like I might get more shots than in the past, which is really exciting for me," she explained. "I love a good challenge. I love the pressure. It makes every game feel like it's a big game. I love that adrenaline rush."
Anticipation for the new season wasn’t the only reason the cider house was buzzing with excitement. Just a few days earlier, the team posted a video of defensemen Tara Watchorn pranking a team in a local adult hockey league, which later went viral.
Blades General Manager Krista Patronick had the idea after watching a similar video of a Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter on YouTube. Patronick was able to arrange for Watchorn to play with the team, telling them that she had "never played hockey before."
"It was so much fun to do. It was surprisingly hard to pretend to be bad," said Watchorn.
Patronick said that the team were good sports about the prank, saying that they wanted Watchorn to play with them at their next game.
Watchorn, though flattered by the invitation, is focused on the challenges in the season ahead.
"This is obviously going to be a transition year, but it’s really exciting and the girls are really into it" she said.
Patronick, who is in her first season as general manager, had a difficult task in front of her after the departures over the off-season. In building the team, she said that speed and leadership ability were two of the qualities she looked for in new players.
"Certainly they’re not a big team, so they have to be fast. We have quite a few girls who can really skate and really play. We’re going to have to rely on those girls for leadership," she said.
One of those new players, Sadie St. Germain, Patronick discovered while playing ball hockey. St. Germain, a member of the U.S. National Ball Hockey team, is looking forward to her opportunity in Boston.
"I’m really happy to be able to play again right now," she said.
In addition to her ball hockey career, St. Germain played 139 ice hockey games for Syracuse, where she said it was difficult to balance her school and sports schedules. She is looking forward to the chance to devote herself to hockey this season.
Both St. Germain and Patronick spoke to the difficulties of so many new team members playing together for the first time, but as practices go on their play and camaraderie are improving.
"Every time I see them skate together I start to feel better and better," said Patronick.
The Blades will play a preseason game on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Skate 3 in Tyngsboro, Mass. against the New England Stars U18 Premier Team before heading to Toronto to begin the regular season on Oct. 17.