Boston bolsters lineup with World Champions at all three positions
TORONTO, ON (September 7, 2023) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) today announced the first three players to sign free agent contracts with the league’s Boston franchise are goaltender Aerin Frankel, defender Megan Keller, and forward Hilary Knight. The trio of 2023 IIHF World Women’s Championship gold medalists from the U.S. National Women’s Team have all agreed to terms on three-year deals for the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 PWHL seasons. Salary terms will not be disclosed, as per the PWHL Players’ Association.
“As a lifelong fan of Boston sports teams, I recognize the immense responsibility of building a team in this city given the high expectations of our fans, who are arguably the most passionate in all of sports,” said Danielle Marmer, General Manager of PWHL Boston. “I’m thrilled to inform my fellow Boston fans that we have begun the process of building this team in a way that meets our city’s standards. It’s both an honor and a privilege to announce that PWHL Boston has successfully signed three of the best women’s hockey players in the world.
“These remarkable individuals were the standout players in their respective positions on this year’s gold medal-winning IIHF championship team,” added Marmer. “Beyond their exceptional skills, they exemplify team-first values and are outstanding individuals who I know will contribute positively to our city and will surely make all of us proud. Boston, you’ve always demanded excellence, and we are starting this the right way. I extend my congratulations to both the city and these incredible women. I eagerly anticipate our fans giving them a warm Boston welcome and witnessing the passionate support we are known for providing.”
Frankel signs in familiar territory following a standout collegiate career at Northeastern University where she earned the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award for the 2020-21 season. Her recognition as a senior came in between two top-10 finishes for the national honor, leading her NCAA Division I competitors in goals-against-average, save percentage, winning percentage, and shutouts. Following her graduate year with the Huskies, Frankel joined the PWHPA for the 2022-23 season, posting a stellar .937 save percentage in her first professional campaign. The 24-year-old from Chappaqua, NY is fresh off her first World Championship title where she backstopped Team USA to victory over their Canadian rivals. The gold medal adds to her collection of two World Championship silvers from the 2021 and 2022 events.
“Boston is my home and the city that I love,” said Frankel. “Having the opportunity to play here professionally in front of the greatest sports fans is a dream come true. I am honored and extremely grateful for the opportunity to represent Boston in the PWHL.”
“Great teams have great goaltending, and I am beyond thrilled to announce the signing of Aerin Frankel to PWHL Boston,” said Marmer. “Aerin is an elite goalie who has proven her ability to win at every level. Not only is she the ultimate competitor on the ice, but she’s the ultimate teammate off of it, and I couldn’t be more excited to have her join our group as one of our first three signings in PWHL Boston history.”
Keller has been a prolific presence on the blue line everywhere she’s played, from Team USA, Boston College, and the PWHPA. She debuted with a silver medal for the U18 National Team in 2014 and has since added two Olympic medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver) and seven World Championship medals (5 Gold, 2 Silver) to her collection. Keller attended Boston College from 2014-17, then returned after the 2018 Olympics to captain the Eagles as a senior, leading all NCAA defenders in all offensive categories and named a top-10 finalist for the 2018-19 Patty Kazmaier Award. The 27-year-old from Farmington Hills, MI turned pro with the PWHPA upon graduation and played three total seasons, most recently finishing among the top-3 defenders in scoring during 2022-23 competition.
“It’s truly an honor to be one of the first of many amazing players to sign a professional contract with the PWHL,” said Keller. “While it’s only just the beginning for the PWHL, this historic moment would not have been possible without the sacrifices and commitment of the women who paved the way before us. Thank you to the tireless efforts of many to help make this dream a reality for generations of hockey players to come. I’d especially like to thank Mark and Kimbra Walter along with Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss for their leadership, vision, and generosity, helping to build a league alongside the voice of the players. Lastly, thank you to Danielle Marmer and the entire Boston franchise for giving me the opportunity to play professional hockey for the greatest sports town in the World!”
“Defense wins championships, and I’m proud to announce that our first signing of a defenseman is one of the best in the world in Megan Keller,” said Marmer. “Not only is she a dominant defender, but she is also a major contributor on offense and an experienced leader on the ice and in the locker room. This is a great day for Boston!”
Knight is one of the game’s most recognizable names, serving more than 15 years as an integral member of Team USA. The 34-year-old has notably represented her country at four Olympics (1 Gold, 3 Silver) and thirteen World Championships (9 Gold, 4 Silver) since 2007. Her nine World Championship golds and 13 overall medals are tied for the most all-time, while her hat-trick in April’s gold medal game extended her record point total to 101 in the IIHF’s top tournament. The Sun Valley, ID native spent her NCAA tenure at the University of Wisconsin where she was a three-time top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award and helped the Badgers win two National Championships. As a pro, Knight debuted with the CWHL’s Boston Blades in 2012 and won two Clarkson Cups in three years. She also played two PHF seasons as captain of the Boston Pride and led the inaugural season in scoring and captured the first Isobel Cup presented in 2016. Knight returned to the CWHL for parts of two seasons with Les Canadiennes, and in 2019 became a founding member of the PWHPA where she has competed and served on the Board.
“The City of Boston and its fans have always held a special place in my heart,” said Knight. “I am excited to return to Boston and honored by the opportunity to be a part of the original build of a successful franchise. This year will be historic in so many ways and I cannot wait to get started.”
“We’re creating a formidable offense in Boston beginning with the best building block a team could ever ask for in Hilary Knight,” said Marmer. “I’m ecstatic that our fans will get to cheer on a legend of women’s hockey, and I’m looking forward to the experience and leadership qualities she will bring to our team!”
The PWHL player selection process officially opened on September 1 with an initial free agency period that continues through Sept. 10. Teams are permitted to sign three players to Standard Player Agreements during this time. The 2023 PWHL Draft is scheduled for Sept. 18 where Boston holds the third overall pick.
Fans can stay connected to the PWHL and register for email updates at thepwhl.com. Follow the new league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus all six new team accounts @pwhl_boston, @pwhl_minnesota, @pwhl_montreal, @pwhl_newyork, @pwhl_ottawa, and @pwhl_toronto.
PWHL Director of Communications