Alex Carpenter's empty-net goal with with 19 seconds remaining in the Women's Hockey East Semi-Final gave Boston College a 3-1 edge over UConn. Those 19 seconds, slowly ticking down at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, would be the last of UConn forward Rachel Farrel's hockey career - or, at least that's what she thought at the time.
"I thought my last UConn game was going to be the last competitive hockey game I would play in," Farrell said. "I never imagined I would be drafted."
Farrel, a native of Cheshire, Connecticut and four-year letter winner for the UConn Huskies women's hockey team, was selected by the Boston Blades in the fourth round (20th overall) of the 2015 Canadian Women's Hockey League Draft. A moment that, despite it's initial surprise for Farrel, seems more like a rite of passage given her family's strong ties to the game she now calls a profession.
Her great-grandfather, Frank Farrel, a three-year starter in net for Yale University, led the United States to a Silver medal at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Frank's son - and Rachel's grandfather - would go on to play college hockey at Colorado College, and her father Dennis followed in the family footsteps, playing collegiality at Merrimack College.
"My icons - and favorite players - are my great-grandfather, grandpa and dad," Farrel said. " They've taught me everything I know, and I owe my entire career to them."
With a plethora of knowledgeable hockey minds at her disposal, it's not the least bit surprising to learn the building blocks to Farrel's game focus around her on-ice intelligence.
"Rachel is a really smart hockey player," former UConn teammate Caitlin Hewes said. "I think she has the ability to adapt her game to whatever level she wants to play at."
Hewes also indicated if a building was on fire, and as Farrell was escaping she had the option of saving a hockey stick, a 43-year-old stockbroker named Roy from Staten Island or a kitten, that Farrell would likely save the furry feline.
"In that scenario, she'd probably save the kitten to be honest," Hewes said. "She loves animals."
While FEMA is surely a big fan of Farrel now, that snippet above really doesn't matter - at least on the hockey side of things. What does matter is Farrel's high hockey IQ, combined with her excellent speed and vision on the ice, give the Blades a unique commodity: a defensively proficient center with an above-average scoring touch. A touch the now 23-year-old displayed at UConn, potting 19 goals and tallying 40 points in 141 collegiate contests.
For the Blades, who saw 11 forwards depart for the upstart National Women's Hockey League this past off-season, offensive depth is a must-have, and, by no coincidence I'm sure, is a facet Farrel brings to the table.
Helping the Blades repeat as CWHL champions is Farrel's ultimate goal, but as a U.S. citizen aware of Canada's geographical location, she plans on enjoying the experiences this upcoming season has to offer, as well.
"I like to sleep when I travel," Farrel said. "Sometimes even watch some television."
Farrel and the defending Clarkson Cup champion Blades open their season October 18 in Toronto - a Canadian city Farrel adamantly says she can locate on a map - against the Toronto Furies. Their home opener comes 13 days later on October 31st when they host the Calgary Inferno.