The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, December 27, 2019

Year in Review — The IX Top Hockey Entries - must-click links

(Reminder: we are off next week until January 2. Do not panic, we’ll be back soon! And happy new year!)

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Year in Review

Greetings everyone!

We are headed into another year and the unofficial second half of the WoHo season. I have covered more #WoHo than ever before since becoming the Hockey Friday contributor. The IX has brought you interviews and social media #content from:

  • 2018 CWHL All-Star Game

  • The thrilling Markham Thunder win over Montreal

  • First-ever Aurora Games in Albany, NY

  • 2019 Frozen Four

  • 2019 World Pride

  • USAH & Hockey Canada Joint Training Camp

  • 2019 Rivalry Series in Hartford, CT

As someone who is not a full-time freelancer, I know how tough it can be to place the women’s hockey stories. Especially difficult are the stories on players in professional leagues that are not in a national team pipeline. Writing for The IX has given me a place to share important WoHo stories.

This is just the beginning of my journey with The IX! In 2020, I plan to bring more interviews and analysis from:

  • Black Girl Hockey Club outings (Pittsburgh on January 31 for sure)

  • 2020 NWHL All-Star Weekend

  • NCAA Frozen Four

  • Women’s Worlds

I thank you for being a subscriber! We look forward to giving our readers more trusted analysis and interesting interviews in 2020. But here are our top hockey editions in 2019.

Hockey Friday’s had six entries in the top 30 entries of The IX in 2019. Annie’s Soccer Monday’s owned the Top 10 (seven) entries. Howard and Basketball Wednesdays Claimed three of the Top 10.

Here are the top hockey stories in 2019:

#6 July 5, 2019 – The CWHL Letter – Interview w/ Renee Hess/ Black Girl Hockey Club

ELA: From every event I’ve attended, the group seems to be inclusive. What would you say to those who like the mission, but don’t necessarily identify as a “Black Girl”? 

RH: The tag line on our social media says, “For Black girl hockey fans and the folks who love us". The only requirement for a person to join the BGHC is an understanding of the need for a safe space for Black women in hockey. Our BGHC family includes people of all races, genders, sexualities and abilities. All we ask of our friends is to listen when we speak and be an ally when we need them. 

#5 October 18, 2019 – Joint Camp before Rivalry Series – Interview with Corinne Buie

“Some say, let’s move on. Well, I sure as heck wish I could. But, as a media member, at least part of the job is updating people on the news as it is, not necessarily as we wish it to be.”

#4 May 31, 2019 Gary Bettman says … something, the NWHL too – Interview w/ Katie Fitzgerald

ELA: Are there things, realistically, that the NWHL could do for players, whether they have tweeted #ForTheGame or honestly just want to see women's hockey be better, to get there? Or do you think this really has to be starting fresh?

KF: I think it depends on who you're trying to sway, honestly. But I think there are just certain things that even I have overlooked for so long that I didn't even realize was not to the standard that it should be. For instance, insurance is one thing that I never had to worry about that other people have really struggled with. Obviously, the salaries and just things like that. They have gone up this year, but it's just kind of this, I think there's this urge for something more. To have hockey be the sole thing that you do and what you can focus all your time on. And for that to be able to be a livable wage.

#3 September 13, 2019 – Back to the beginning? Interview w/ Meghan Duggan

“And in this way, the post-college women’s hockey landscape sounds like an old tune. This will be the third time where two women’s league led to animosity or a taking of sides (more history here by The Victory Press). So, now what?”

#2 November 22, 2019 – Which is it? Interview w/ Jesse Compher

Your coach is coming up on a milestone, it’s very likely that he get 300 wins this season. When you think about having one person be at the helm for this program, how special is it to be at this part of that career?

I mean, Coach Durocher is unbelievable. You can ask anybody who's ever played for him, he just has this presence to him and he lives and breathes BU athletics and it's truly something special to witness. And to hopefully watch him hit this milestone this year, it's going to be incredible. So I'm excited for him, I think we all are.

#1 August 2, 2019 – What makes a story? – Interview with Lexi Bender

“I am not here to get people to agree with my opinions on the state of women’s hockey, nor stifle their voice when expressing theirs. I do wonder though, if asking MSM not to cover certain draft picks or certain PWHPA board members is really what is best for the game?

“My opinion: It’s not.”

Must-click links through 12/23

Ryerson hockey player inspired to return to ice hockey by her grandfather.

Lee Stecklein joins Minnesota Wild for practice.

Hockey Canada announced Courtney Birchard-Kessel and Jenelle Kohanchuk officially retire.

Takeaways for the 2019 portion of the NCAA season.

There is another “pure and tender” Russian Women’s Hockey calendar out. I get why some will be upset, but I think it’s okay for women to be body positive. Athletes work damn hard, why not flaunt it?!

Marisa Ingemi takes a look at the career of NWHL 2020 All-Star captain, Jillian Dempsey.

Tweet of the Week

NASDAQ hosts the NWHL to ring the opening bell (Can you find me, lol)!

Top Five at The IX questions

Here are snippets from five of my favorite interviews from 2019.

From January 25, 2019 with Liz Knox/Markham Thunder

Photo courtesy of CWHL, Credit: Chris Tanouye.

Erica L. Ayala: You just had the CWHL All-Star game, it’s your first All-Star game and you were voted captain. Now that you’ve had a few days to take it in, what do you make of the opportunity to play in the 2019 All-Star Game?

Liz Knox: If it was surreal before, it’s all of the more surreal that it happened now. The whole weekend, like getting to know some of the girls that haven’t had the opportunity meet the past, you know mixing and mingling and really getting to know them was probably one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Everyone was there for the right reasons and there was so much talent and there was the same mindset, just [to] have a good time and enjoy the game and enjoy each other’s company.

I think it really developed and showed on the ice.

So it was yeah definitely a highlight of my entire career to be able to be there and to be captain just made it that much more special. You know kind of celebrating the few years that I’ve put in with the people that I know. So it was really, really cool.

From May 24, 2019 with Kaleigh Fratkin/Boston Pride

ELA: Yeah, and you hit on a few things. And I know I told you we’d transition to this eventually. But I am curious to get your take. You were one of the players early on that that was asked your thoughts about the state of women’s hockey. What made you confident to sign up another NWHL season? Also, how confident are you that there will be another NWHL season and that you’ll be able to hit the ice with a full roster for for Boston?

Kaleigh Fratkin: Being in this league from day one, I’ve kind of seen it all and stuck in the league with salary cuts. When you go through the infancy of a business or start up a business, there’s always ups and downs. And I see it now in my own professional career on the business side of it, there’s a ton of ups and downs whether it’s a startup or not. 

I’ve seen a ton of growth in the past couple years of the NWHL and that’s what really has pushed me in the mindset and has allowed me to feel comfortable to speak up. I know there’s a lot of players that have been vocal anonymously or behind the scenes have been talking maybe not in the public eye. But you know, either an original NW tellers, whatever it may be. But for me, because of that progress that I’ve seen in especially last year with Minnesota turning a profit, and just seeing the growth in general of attendance records and average attendance. 

For me, as I said has been here from day one, when I was approached to be a part of the movement or not, I had to take step back and say, I have all of these questions. And like when someone’s coming to you and saying, ‘Hey, NHL is going to start a league and we’re gonna not play for a year there’s this gap year, like our yet on board or not?’

Questions are going through my mind at that point. And, you know, how concrete is this? And, you know, just kind of questions where I’ve been part of something and building something from the ground up. And, yes, of course, I want what’s best for the sport. And, of course, I want that ultimate endgame for the growth and allowing the younger generation to be looking at this as a viable professional sport, of course I do. 

But, is that the route that we should be going? And for me, I wasn’t given enough information, you know. Still right now there’s a ton of question marks.

From January 18, 2019 with Bridgette Lacquette/Calgary Inferno

ELA: Both you and Sarah have some artifacts that went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I realized that, at least in Sarah’s case, she did not realize that her Jersey had been sent to the Hockey Hall and there was a swap. So I guess my question is, did you know that the stick was going to the Hockey Hall? Did you notice it was missing? What was the process there?

BL: Yeah that’s actually that’s hilarious. But you know a couple days after the final game our equipment manager kinda tracked me down in the Olympic village. And he was kinda like, “Hey! Just so you know. Your stick went to the Hockey Hall of Fame.” I thought that was pretty cool. Definitely told the family about that one. Honestly that’s pretty cool and it’s a great honor. You know after the Olympics, I’ve been going from community to community speaking to the youth across Canada. I just try my best to be you know to be a better role model for the Indigenous kids across Canada. And that’s kind of something special. And you know just to kind of share those stories with those kids.

From August 16, 2019 with Lauren Dahm/PWHPA

Lauren and I talked about her involvement with the PWHPA for several minutes, then I asked the following question:

ELA: I’ll let you have the last word on this topic. What are the things that you would like to set the record straight on regarding the Players Association, or your decision to push to make women’s hockey better in this particular way?

Lauren Dahm : I think like, the big thing is, I don’t agree with the fact that it’s like, anti-NWHL or something like that. Personally, I commend both the CWHL and the NWHL for what they were trying to do like for women’s hockey. But I think just seeing the potential and the plans for the PA, and the people that are involved, that’s where I would stay standing on the issue.

And I think that it’s the better track for getting women’s hockey to where it needs to be. Just like soccer, the World Cup … it should be like seamless. So many people watch World Cup and followed that. And then all those players to come back and they’re playing in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League). And the fans are coming out, and people are following the league and stuff like that. And I think that was the hope for the Olympics or hockey this year. And I know we gained some momentum, but I think like it could have been better. And I think like, once the right, people are involved in right steps are taken, like it’s just going to skyrocket like we know that it should. And I’m, I’m just excited to be a part of that kind of happening.

From February 1, 2019 with Erika Lawler/Metropolitan Riveters

Photo Credit: Matthew Raney

ELA: You’re a very experienced hockey player who has been on successful teams. What did you see your role being as a veteran to help everyone stay the course and make the necessary corrections?

Erika Lawler: My role. I’ve always sort of been like an energy player, you know a locker room person in some capacity. And I think that that’s more the role that I have this year, being like a role player or personality in the locker room which, you know obviously it’s not always easy just sort of like the person who brings the energy and has you know everything positive to say especially when your team is losing every single game and you sort of feel like you’re not getting a chance to crack into the lineup that’s just not an easy thing for an athlete to do.

And I don’t, I don’t play a lot. I’m going to be honest, it’s hard for a player to not really get in the lineup too much, not get a crack at things, and continue to be positive. But I’ve had enough experience, like you said, in hockey to know what it’s like to not get any shifts and just try to be a good teammate. I’ve had that, I’ve had those experiences in my past and you sort of just have to approach it like, ‘Look I’m here because I love being a good teammate and that’s more important to me than any kind of selfish thing.’ Ultimately at the end of every day, you just remind yourself that you don’t want to be the person with a bad attitude. And so if I can only contribute in the locker room then I’ll do that.

Not ideal. I want to get on the ice, so it’s not ideal. But I am 110% on board with making sure that I can bring whatever positive energy I can to the locker room to help my teammates pump them up.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Stephanie Livaudais, @Livaudais
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala