The Boston Pride may have the deepest talent pool to choose from position-by-position in the NWHL. Though they haven’t won the Isobel Cup since the inaugural season, they routinely find themselves atop the regular season standings. They have a history of success both collectively and individually.
But who’s the best of the best? Let’s take a look.
The Starting Six
Center: Brianna Decker (‘15-’17).
Brianna Decker played just two seasons in the NWHL, yet still sits fourth all-time in goals with 28 career tallies, fifth in SOG with 204 and fifth in primary assists with 22. She notched 60 points in 33 career appearances, plus 14 points in six Isobel Cup Playoff games. That is a big-time performer.
Her 50 primary points puts her third all-time in that category. For the #fancystat crowd, she leads all NWHL players in game score/game at 2.59. Contextualizing all of this with her international resume, it’s entirely possible that Brianna Decker would start not just on the Pride’s all-time starting lineup, but an all-women’s hockey 2020 starting lineup.
Oh, and she won back-to-back regular season MVPs. What an absolute stud.
Defining moment: The Game 2 back-breaker (3/12/16). Decker scored a breakaway goal in the first period of Game 2 of the Isobel Cup Final to give the Boston Pride a 1-0 lead over the Buffalo Beauts. With the game tied and the Pride shorthanded, Hilary Knight found a streaking Decker in the attacking zone for a one-timer. Dagger. Decker would add an assist later in the period for a three-point night in the Cup-clincher. She would be named Finals MVP.
Honorable mention: Meghan Duggan (‘16-’17). Meghan Duggan made headlines for playing in the Isobel Cup Final two consecutive seasons. She just happened to pick the wrong side each time. Nonetheless, Duggan recorded 13 goals and seven assists in 17 games with Boston.
Left Wing: Hilary Knight (‘15-’17)
You all know Hilary Knight. Not a lot needs to be explained about her. She’s one of the most prominent figures in hockey and is an international icon.
She’s also one of the best players to ever skate in the NWHL, the irony of that being she has since become one of the league’s most outspoken critics.
Knight racked up 23 goals and 25 assists in 27 regular season games, plus 14 points in six Isobel Cup Playoff games. She’s the only player with 10 career postseason goals in NWHL history. She’s eighth all-time in primary points with 40. She’s second behind only Decker in game score/game at 2.47. When it comes to Knight and Olympic linemate Brianna Decker, she came, she saw, she conquered.
Defining moment: The Penalty Shot (3/11/16). In Game 1 of the Isobel Cup Final, the Buffalo Beauts illegally covered the puck in the crease. Hilary Knight, who had sent the game to extra time with an equalizer late in the third, scored on the ensuing penalty shot to steal the win. It’s one of the craziest moments in professional hockey. A penalty shot in overtime of a Cup Final? Unheard of. For reference, it’s never happened in Stanley Cup Final. One has only been awarded in a playoff overtime four times in NHL history, and none resulted in a goal.
Honorable mention: McKenna Brand (‘18-present). McKenna Brand is fantastic. Curse this franchise for being so dang deep at forward, otherwise Brand would have earned a starting role. Brand has 25 goals and 28 assists over 40 NWHL games. On top of that, she’s one of the most lethal shot generators in the game. She’s a fun player to watch, especially when paired with...
Right Wing: Jillian Dempsey (‘15-present)
Yes I know Dempsey is usually a center. I’m shifting her to the wing. It’s my list I can do what I want.
Jillian Dempsey is Ms. NWHL. Over five seasons, she has emerged as the leader in: games (91), goals (46), assists (51), points (97), SOG (358), primary points (82), even-strength primary points (74), and face-off wins (876) with a terrific 55.94% faceoff-win rate to boot.
She’s the reigning NWHL MVP. She’s the first player to hit 40 points in a season. She has eight postseason points in nine games.
Dempsey will be celebrating her 30th birthday as she heads to the bubble with the Pride. She’ll be one of the most watched players at Lake Placid as she closes in on 100 career points.
Defining moment: The Accuracy Contest (2/8/20). Jillian Dempsey set an NWHL record by nailing her four targets in just 9.69 seconds in front of a friendly Boston crowd. Her performance even earned her a shoutout from Dictionary.com’s Twitter. It doesn’t get better than that.
Studies show that if you search both “Light Speed” and “Jillian Dempsey‘s Accuracy Shooting” you will get the same exact result.— NWHL (@NWHL) May 5, 2020
See below for result. #NWHLSigned // @TheBostonPride pic.twitter.com/rby5Alyl6D
Honorable mention: Alex Carpenter (‘16-’17). In terms of raw talent, Carpenter ranks as one of the best on the list. She’s a phenomenal puck-mover, corralling 20 assists and 29 points over 17 NWHL games in 2016-17. Twelve of those 20 apples were primaries. Her stint in black-and-yellow was brief, but explosive.
Defense: Gigi Marvin (‘15-’17, ‘18-’19)
Gigi Marvin is an interesting case on this list, since she played both defense and forward in her time with the Pride. She transitioned to the front lines in her return stint in 2018-19, but still was quarterbacking the offense from the back end in her first two seasons. She earned Defender of the Year honors in 2015-16 for her efforts.
Marvin ranks T-12th in goals (19), 14th all-time in points (44), and T-8th in powerplay points. Plus, just look at that shot.
Defining moment: The Tri-State Killer (1/10/16-2/14/16). Marvin went on a torrid streak from January to February, leaving the New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale in her wake. She strung together five straight multi-point performances consisting of four goals, six assists and five wins.
Honorable mention: Alyssa Gagliardi (‘15-’19). Gagliardi is an underrated player in Pride history. With so many big names to come through the organization, it’s easy to lose a player like her in the shuffle. She didn’t light up the stat sheet, but consistently contributed when needed. She often played tough minutes defensively, and was up to the task against any opponent. She transitioned from being a big scorer with Shattuck St. Mary’s and Cornell to more of a conservative role with the Pride.
Defense: Kacey Bellamy (‘15-’17)
Yet another Olympian and yet another inaugural season player cracks the starting lineup. I normally dislike having such a lack of diversity in the picks, but that’s hard for a group like this. The inaugural team was loaded with Olympians who played tremendously well with each other and won an Isobel Cup together. That’s hard to deny.
Goal: Kacey Bellamy on the powerplay, assist goes to Brianna Decker.— NWHL Gifs (@nwhlgifs) December 1, 2015
CTW: 4 BOS: 3 pic.twitter.com/VcUyRQS8Xt
Bellamy posted 23 points in 30 games with the Pride, with 14 of those points being primary. When compared to other Boston defenders that we’ll get to in a moment, Bellamy’s points/game average, game score and shot generation puts her ahead of most of the pack. Tack on her record with Team USA, and you have one heck of a hockey player.
Defining moment: Three-points vs Buffalo (3/5/17). Bellamy’s best regular season performance came in a 7-1 thumping of the Buffalo Beauts. She found twine twice and added an assist for a three-point night, one of eight mulit-point performances she would have in two NWHL seasons, playoffs included.
Honorable mention: Blake Bolden (‘15-’17). This was a hard choice. Bolden or Kaleigh Fratkin. Both won Defender of the Year honors, Fratkin doing so this past season with a standout 23-point season. However, it’s Bolden’s prowess in her own zone that gives her the edge. Bolden earned her DOTY award while in Buffalo, but more than earned her keep in a Pride jersey. She’s a dynamo that thrived regardless of strength and situation. Fratkin’s more offensive-minded approach is still incredibly fun to watch, but the way this lineup is shaking out, we’re going for a lockdown pair here in the honorable mention department.
Goaltender: Lovisa Selander (‘19-present)
Putting Lovisa Selander behind this starting lineup would be unfair. Selander dominated the NWHL in her rookie season, running away with the Goaltender of the Year award. She led the league with 17 wins, a 1.71 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
this is a lovisa selander appreciation post. pic.twitter.com/WKUrBdeYGA— Michelle Jay (@michelle_jay3) March 9, 2020
Selander collected two shutouts along the way for good measure. She lost once all season, for goodness’ sake.
Simply put, she’s a beast.
Defining moment: The Perfect Weekend (2/22-23/20). Selander’s two clean sheets came on back-to-back days. On Saturday, Feb. 22, she cruised to a 13-save shutout of the Connecticut Whale. The next day, she stopped 29 of 29 against the Metropolitan Riveters to secure the perfect weekend. She rode that goalless streak into the postseason, where it was finally snapped after seven full periods.
Honorable mention: Katie Burt (‘18-’19). Burt played just one season with the Pride, but it was a memorable one. She posted a 10-5-0 record with a 2.14 GAA and .923 sv%. With all due respect to Brittany Ott, who had a very good career in Boston, Burt gets the nod for honorable mention.