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Blake Bolden, Leslie Oles to Switzerland

Swiss club Lugano has reportedly agreed to terms with the Boston Pride defenseman; Oles signs with EV Bomo Thu

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Al Saniuk

“Es tut sich was auf dem Frauen-Transfermarkt,” writes Daniel Monnin. With a quick online translation of his latest article, I am inclined to agree. There is some noteworthy action on the women’s transfer market.

Blake Bolden may be one of three players who played in America last season to take her talents to Switzerland. “Lugano is said to have committed the 26-year-old American Blake Bolden,” states Monnin. The article also connects American Molly Strabley of Princeton University and Canadian-Swiss Jessica Valloton from the University of Maine.

Bolden won two consecutive professional titles after graduating from Boston College in 2013. The Ohio native won the 2015 Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades, and the 2016 Isobel Cup with the Boston Pride. She has also recently launched a training company, Blake Bolden Athletics.

If Bolden ends up in Switzerland, that could leave another glaring hole for a Pride team already losing star power to Olympic centralization. Seven Pride players from the 2016-17 roster were named to the 23-player USA Hockey roster, from which the 2018 Olympic team will be selected.

Despite being left off USA Hockey training camp rosters, Bolden has been an integral part of the Boston Pride for two years. If she leaves for Lugano, general manager Hayley Moore will find an already challenging task even more complicated.

Bolden earned a win in the hardest shot competition during the 2017 NWHL All-Star Weekend Skills Competition
Al Saniuk

Bolden’s potential departure raises another question - does the inability to re-sign a two-time All Star bode poorly for a league that will already be without Olympians? Right now it’s too soon to tell.

Like we’ve seen in the National Women’s Soccer League, pioneer players are looking to have different personal and professional experiences. For Bolden, one of those experiences may very well be playing abroad. She alluded to as much during a podcast interview with Kwani Lewis.

While we may not have all the details just yet, the good news is Bolden still intends to play professional hockey.

Bolden would be a huge loss for the NWHL. She is a tremendous ambassador for the women’s game - especially for players of color.

The Ice Garden has reached out to Bolden, as well as GM Hayley Moore. We will update this story as more information becomes available.

UPDATE (1:26 PM):

Pride general manager Hayley Moore has confirmed that Bolden will not be returning to the team next season.

"Although we are disappointed that Blake won't be in the NWHL this season, we understand that this is a wonderful opportunity for her. We are very happy for Blake, wish her the best and - as we've told her - we look forward to having her back in the NWHL down the road. She's an exceptional player and person and we appreciate all she has done for the Pride/NWHL and all she continues to do to grow the game." -Hayley Moore

UPDATE Saturday, May 13th:

Bolden confirms via Twitter she will play for HC Lugano.

UPDATE, May 18th:

It’s not just Bolden who will be going to Switzerland - former Les Canadiennes forward Leslie Oles will apparently also be moving from a North American league to Switzerland next year.

Per a Facebook post, Oles will play for EV Bomo Thun next season, another team in the same league that Bolden signed in.

Last year, Oles recorded one goal and two assists in 15 games for Les Canadiennes.