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Q & A with McKenna Brand of the Boston Pride

With 79 points (34g-45a) in 73 regular season games, we should be talking about Boston’s McKenna Brand more, and that starts here!

Michelle Jay

Now in her fifth season as a pro, McKenna Brand has posted 79 points (34g-45a) in 73 regular season games for the Boston Pride and is among a handful of players who were the first ever in PHF/NWHL to win back-to-back Isobel Cups. Often when we talk about the top players in the league, even in Boston, there are usually a handful of names mentioned before the 26-year-old Brand’s name comes up.

I’m not certain how to make it happen - but that should change. Currently, Brand’s 79 points are good enough for fifth all-time in league history. Her goal total is good enough for 6th all-time, as is her assist total. Who is the only player in Boston’s history with more goals, assists, or points than Brand? Well, that would be Jillian Dempsey of course, who has played for the Pride and in the league since its inception.

This season she is well on her way to another solid campaign with the Pride and during Boston’s recent trip to her home state (Minnesota) she picked up her first points of the season. A week later she netted her first goal of the season, abruptly ending an overtime thriller against Toronto. “I was super-relieved. Getting that first goal out of the way is like getting the monkey off your back,” Brand told us, “and yeah, scoring in overtime - that always feels good too.”

With Boston’s penchant for reloading a roster that is constantly oozing with star-studded talent, it might be easy to forget that Brand has been so good for so long. Over the years her role has changed a bit, but whichever role Head Coach Paul Mara and his staff have slotted Brand into - it has worked out.

Here is the rest of our conversation about longevity, having fun, finding a role on the team, and more.

The Ice Garden: As a player with roots in Minnesota, despite having lived and played in Boston for a number of years, do you ever think about playing for your hometown team?

McKenna Brand: It’s been a little tempting. After college, I was ready for a bit of a change and looked into playing in Minnesota, but it just didn’t feel like the right fit for me at the time. I was pulled back out here and for me, it’s turned out to be the right decision. In my case, it’s listening to my gut; I’ve made every decision in my life based on that. I’ve been out on the east coast since I was 15-years-old; for me, it’s home right now. Obviously, I would love to eventually move home - whether it’s when I’m done playing or while I’m still playing, I don’t know. We’ll see. Right now I’m happy with where we’re at, I’m happy with living in Boston near all of my closest friends. I love the team, and I love playing for Paul. In my mind, there’s no thought of playing anywhere else.

NWHL Isobel Cup Playoffs - Semifinals Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

TIG: Well who can blame you, right? Things are going well, your team has qualified for the Isobel Cup Final for three consecutive seasons. Success is fun, ain’t it?

MB: Yeah, and we have a lot of people on our team with a similar mindset, they just want to show up, work hard, and do whatever the team needs them to do to get the outcome that we are striving towards. I’ve been asked so many times - you’ve won two in a row doesn’t that hunger go away a little bit? But once you have that taste, you don’t want to lose that. Ever.

TIG: On many teams, you would likely be the no. 1, top-line scoring winger, but maybe that always isn’t always the case in Boston for you with the collection of stars around you. I feel safe in saying you are comfortable with your current role on the team - is that accurate?

MB: I would love to score 15 goals a season, but if that’s not what my team needs from me - then that’s not what I need to do for my team. I feel like I’ve always been a player that’s flown under the radar a bit, always right there but able to step up for my team and produce when I need to. I’m fine with that role, I just try to do my best to be the best player that I can be every night on the ice.

TIG: It’s crazy to think about, but you’re among the longest-tenured players in this league with 4 & 1/4 years played. You’re still having fun I guess?

MB: Oh yeah (laughs). For me now it’s all about being a good leader and stepping up in certain moments. Maybe it’s not always putting the puck in the net, but rather having a good shift on the PK, or boosting up my teammates on the bench. You go into every game wanting to produce, but for where I’m at in my career you try to find ways to be an all-around player and teammate.

Michelle Jay

TIG: As a player, you have to really love it when your franchise continues to add top-end talent year after year. What’s your reaction when the Pride reloads every off-season and gives y’all a great chance to win?

MB: Our staff has done a great job over the past however many years; Paul has been here a while, a constant, but despite our staff personnel changes (over the years) they’ve all had the same mindset - they want to bring in the best players and people that they can. I have all the faith in them, and people want to come and play for Boston. They’ve gone out and found the right players, but Boston is also an attractive place right now, too.