In the second season of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), the Boston Pride are undefeated in nine regular season games. What’s more, the inaugural Isobel Cup Champions have not lost a game since January 3, 2016. The Ice Garden caught up with the woman behind the scenes, Pride general manager Hayley Moore.
For her, being part of the team that hoisted the Isobel Cup for the first time was not just an individual accomplishment. There was much more to celebrate than a championship. “It was a women’s hockey accomplishment,” said Moore. “That, I think, is what resonated with me the most.”
Back to business
However, it wasn’t long before Moore began thinking about next steps. Enjoying the days following the Isobel Cup Finals victory was quickly followed by preparations for the next season. “As much as you want to celebrate your successes in one season, if you want to continue to be successful, you need to remain focused, and look to continue to build.”
To do that, Moore focused first on old business, in a matter of speaking. The preparation for season two began with a check-in with all players. “The first task was making sure we closed out last season appropriately,” said Moore. That meant sharing her goals for the organization, as well as getting feedback from players and personnel. “I think that [it’s] super important to hear from the players, especially with such a young league.”
As a general manager for a league paying small salaries, Moore must be in tune with the personal and professional goals of her team, and make choices in the best interest of the overall program. Contracts maxed out at $26,000 this season,* so players must factor in living costs, earning potential through additional (or primary) employment opportunities and other professional goals before committing to re-sign. New York Riveters goalie and league PR staffer Jenny Scrivens became the first official, or public, retirement. On the eve of the second season, Connecticut Whale captain Jessica Koizumi also retired to pursue a position with the coaching staff of The Ohio State University women’s hockey program.
Moore used these player meetings to gauge what roles she needed to fill, as well as how to balance salaries to sign new talent. Moore returned key players like Blake Bolden, Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight, and Gigi Marvin, to name a few. At the same time, she was also having discussions with players who eventually signed, like free agent Meghan Duggan (Buffalo Beauts), Alex Carpenter (Riveters draft pick) and Lexi Bender (Pride draft pick).
Moore likens that part of the job to putting a puzzle together. “You look to fill the edges first sometimes, and sometimes you find the middle pieces … Honestly, [it] is one of the most exciting parts of the job for me. I’m so emotionally invested in what we have to offer to women’s hockey, and to share that with new players, and to share my passion with our team is really exciting.”
The other side of the game
Moore’s passion from the game has exposed her to several different levels and positions in the women’s game. Moore has met success at nearly every level of her hockey career, both on and off the ice. As a youth player, she won a u-12 National Championship and advanced to three New England Prep School Championships with Cushing Academy. At Brown University, Moore was the highest scorer for the Bears for two consecutive seasons.
As her college career neared its end, Moore began to reconcile that hockey might not remain a part of her life. “For me, when I stopped playing, I thought I was going to stop being involved in hockey [as well].” The opportunities for women in the game were slim when she graduated from Brown in 2008, but Moore played where she could- after graduating and playing two seasons abroad, she became a founding member of the Boston Blades, the 2010 American expansion team in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).
She then became the first general manager of the Boston Pride. Moore went on to join St. Mark’s School as the head hockey coach and assistant athletic director, before joining the coaching staff for the Harvard women’s hockey program. Moore has also served as the director of women’s hockey at the East Coast Wizards Hockey program for three years this May.
All of her experiences paved the way for her to be successful as a general manager. However, success might be an understatement. Heading into Saturday’s game against New York, the Pride have won 20 consecutive games and hold a comfortable eight point lead ahead of the second-place Riveters. Yet, if you ask Moore, success of the team isn’t expressed through the record alone. “We try to come prepared and focused everyday,” said Moore. “That’s something we try to build off every day and not focus on the record, but more about the process.”
Moore added the Pride see every team in the league as their biggest rival, and despite the undefeated record, have had to battle for each win. Part of that includes working on the things that - even with a perfect record - need to be ironed out. “Not every game has been our best game,” said Moore. “As long as you have someone steering the ship the right way and acknowledging things and focusing the team as a unit, you’re going to be successful.”
For the Pride, the captain of the ship on the bench is Bobby Jay. In his second season as head coach, Jay and assistant coaches Dave Jensen and Lauren McAuliffee have been successful and coaching big names, and maintaining a long winning streak by always finding ways to improve. According to Moore, Boston is successful because the players, coaches and staff are always learning, and always finding ways to make the next day better than the last. “Every team is always going to bring their best against us,” noted Moore. “So, if we’re not prepared, we’re going to come up short.”
Roles for women in hockey?
Hayley is one of two female GMs in the NWHL this year, proving that women’s professional leagues open up opportunities, and not just for players. When asked how men’s hockey can open up positions for women, Moore immediately thought of former Brown teammate, Katie Guay. Guay recently officiated a men’s hockey game at her alma mater, Brown University.
Guay is one of the first women to officiate a men’s college game, and the first to do so on a regular basis. “There’s been a number of wonderful articles about her, and how she’s pushing boundaries. That’s just one small example, but it’s very close to me,” said Moore of her former captain and mentor. Having more women in management and beyond in hockey is something she hopes will continue. “And it’s not just a hockey thing,” said Moore. “Whenever you can have a female that’s in a position of power and of leadership, it’s going to trickle down.”
As for her personal and professional aspirations, Moore hopes to continue challenging herself. Additionally, she wants more people to fall in love with women’s hockey, just as she did. Even in 2017, that is still a rather ambitious goal. However, Moore is committed. “My ultimate goal is to be involved with what I love and work my butt off to have others continue to have opportunities, and fall in love with the game.”
*Note: The NWHL announced salary cuts earlier in the season, and has adjusted player salaries. This number no longer represents the maximum salary for the 2016-17 season, and updated salaries have not been made public.