The sometimes vague details of the NWHL's inaugural season became a little more concrete on Tuesday afternoon as the Boston Pride held media day and had their first practice.
Upon arriving, the players met with representatives from Bauer, who will be providing all of the team’s official and practice equipment, to be fitted for whatever they needed. Skates, helmets, and pants lined the benches of one locker room while a row of sticks spanned an entire wall in the hallway.
Each player posed for individual photos and filmed video segments, all of which will be up on a revamped team website soon, according to a league representative.
The media portion of the afternoon closed with two press conferences, the first featuring forward Amanda Pelkey and goalies Kelsie Fralick and Brittany Ott followed by GM Hayley Moore and head coach Bobby Jay.
The two goalies spent their Labor Day at LeLacheur Park throwing out the first pitch for the Lowell Spinners and signing autographs at a booth.
"They announced us again later on and after that more people came up and asked about the schedule," Fralick said. "There’s a genuine interest out there."
Events like this, as well as the team’s recent visit to a Boston Breakers game, are all helping to fuel the growth of the game.
For Fralick and Pelkey, the day was especially meaningful, as it represented their first day as professional hockey players. Of the 18 players on the Pride roster, only six have never played professionally before.
"I knew Dani [Rylan] probably 5 or 6 years ago and she asked what I would be doing after college," Pelkey said. "I was like, 'well, I might go to Europe.' I really didn’t know yet and she was like, 'I think i’m gonna start my own league.' So the day she texted me and said that she did it I was lost for words."
Fralick also expressed genuine awe and excitement at the opportunity the NWHL now presents for players like herself.
"I didn’t think pro hockey would be something in my future," she said. "I went to a D3 school, so I didn’t really expect to have this opportunity, but now that it’s come my way I’m very grateful and honored to be sitting next to these two girls and be on a team with a bunch of Olympians and D1 athletes. It’s a dream come true, literally."
Even though Ott is no stranger to playing professionally, starting 12 total games in net for the Clarkson Cup-winning Blades last season, she echoed the same sentiment.
"Having this option here in the states is so huge and something so feasible for so many college hockey players to look forward to," she said.
According to Moore, this passion for the game was one of the traits she sought while selecting her roster over the past several months.
"Going through the selection process was very difficult but very simple at the same time," she said. "It was difficult because there are so many great players who finally have the opportunity to pursue their careers professionally but it was also very simple because these women fight for what they want and every single day they show you that they want to be a part of this."
Coach Jay, who has worked with several of the Pride players in the past at the National and Olympic level, stressed that although he considers himself a teacher, the ultimate goal is to win.
"I’m a positive reinforcement guy, I really try to get the players to understand that I feel my role is to help them be successful," he said. "Style-wise, we want to play fast. I think we’re gonna have very skilled players, the level of talent here is outstanding. The ability to play fast is something that I enjoy coaching, the players want to play that way, and I know for a fact that fans want to see speed and these ladies have it."
Following a dinner break, the team took to the ice together wearing their Pride practice jerseys for the first time. The squad ran shooting and skating drills for about an hour with less than ideal ice conditions, but showcased their aforementioned speed nonetheless.
The team will practice at Allied Veteran’s Arena on Tuesdays and Thursdays and, according to a league representative, fans will be informed when the practices will be open to the public. Single-game tickets will cost $20 each and season ticket and multi-game packs will be released later this week.