To have one of the hardest shots in eastern Massachusetts, Michaela Boyle practices 2-3 times a week for two hours. That’s how the Reading high school prospect molded herself into one of the best players in Massachusetts, tallying 46 goals and 64 points this season, and earned herself a scholarship at Clarkson.
“I’ve been able to shoot a puck, I’ve always been strong,” said Boyle. “To shoot the way I do takes a lot, I work with Glen Tucker at a shooting facility in Woburn. I have to put in a lot of hours.”
It’s clear that Boyle stands out amongst her peers in the high school hockey scene in Massachusetts. But Boyle faced a new challenge in the 2016-2017 season: playing for her hometown high school.
“It’s a dream,” she said of playing for the Reading Rockets, who made it to the D1 state semi-finals. “There’s nothing better than coming out of tunnel and seeing friends, parents, supporting you. Reading didn’t compare to [Austin Prep], there’s something about how a school really rallies around its teams.”
The forward played for Austin Prep in her freshman season before playing for a club program, the Junior Shamrocks, in her sophomore and junior seasons.
“Right before Thanksgiving, things didn’t go as planned,” Boyle said of playing with the Shamrocks in her senior season. “There were issues internally, and it felt better for me to go to Reading. Clarkson was amazing and supporting of that.”
Boyle had committed to play for Clarkson in December of her sophomore year. She was about to stop looking at schools before the upstate New York college blew her away.
“I took about 7-10 tours, and Clarkson was one of the last ones I decided to look at,” Boyle said. “I was going to stop and pick it up in the summer, I just wanted to focus on hockey and settle down. I stepped on campus and spoke with the coaches, and just right away pulling in, something hit me.”
The incoming freshman followed every step of the way as the Golden Knights won the national title.
“My dad and I flew to Clarkson for the quarterfinal against Cornell,” she said. “To see them beat Cornell and go to the Frozen Four was unbelievable. To see them then win it all was incredible.”
Boyle is already looking ahead to try and help Clarkson bring home another national championship, but winning the top prize at the collegiate level isn’t her only goal. She hopes to one day go pro, and was at UMass-Lowell during the Isobel Cup Final where she saw Brianne McLaughlin make 63 saves in the upset of the year, which Boyle called “amazing.”
“I would love to see the NWHL continue to grow,” she said. “[NWHL commissioner] Dani Rylan coached at my youth organization.”
But Boyle doesn’t want to stop there: like most every athlete who’s at the top of her class, Boyle has dreams of playing for her country in national tournaments.
“I was lucky in 2011 to go to Switzerland with the USA team and my family, and got to see first hand what it takes and what goes into it, the atmosphere and the chemistry,” Boyle said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to take my game to the next level. I was on a plane and turned to my dad and said I want to do that someday.
“Ever since then, I really meant that and tried to dedicate my time and all my effort into achieving those goals. When they become realities, it’s amazing and I work every day to wear that USA jersey. Seeing their success has made it more special.”
Boyle has more than one connection with the national team, with Boston Pride superstar and Team USA hero Hilary Knight training with her father, and Pride goalie Brittany Ott babysitting her younger brother from time to time, and Lexi Bender as a workout partner for Boyle. The 18-year-old’s father, Mike Boyle, was the strength and conditioning coach for the program and travelled with the team.
Meghan Duggan, Team USA’s captain, has also known Boyle for some time.
“Michaela is a great kid,” Duggan said. “I coached at Clarkson and helped recruit her. She’s good, and hard-working, and going to be a great player.”
As someone who has been around the national team, it hit especially close to home when Team USA planned on boycotting the world championships before eventually defeating Canada in overtime.
She was one of the many inspired by the team’s stand.
“It was amazing,” Boyle said. “I give those girls so many props, it’s been an issue for so long now, and they took a stand. I texted Meghan Duggan and said thank you so much for doing this. I really understood what they were doing wasn’t for them, but for the girls to follow.
“Once people realized it wasn’t all about them, that’s when it caught on.”
When Team USA struck a deal with USA Hockey, it wasn’t just a deal for them- it was a deal for future players like Boyle. And in the next few years, fans will be able to see just how far she can go in the women’s hockey world.