With the Blades organization beginning an exciting new chapter in Worcester, the addition of accomplished skater Alexis Crossley-Miller heralds a time of optimism. Signed as a free agent during an eventful offseason, such an acquisition holds the possibility of being a highly shrewd move, providing a significant upgrade to the defensive corps.
Hailing from Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, known throughout the sporting realm as the hometown of three-time Stanley Cup champion Sidney Crosby (her father Brad coached him as a child), Crossley-Miller has equally established herself as a local hero for the proud community. Of note, her admirable legacy on the ice runs parallel to Crosby in two unique ways. Not only has she also donned the Team Canada jersey for international play, capturing gold at the 2012 IIHF World Women's U18 Championships, they share the common ground of being alumnae from the iconic Shattuck St. Mary’s academy.
Following a brilliant collegiate run with the Boston University Terriers, Crossley-Miller now joins Crosby among Cole Harbor residents that can lay claim to being professional hockey players. Having graduated from the Terriers in 2017, amassing double digits in points during every season, including four game-winning goals, it reflects a small sample of her amazing career in the scarlet and white jersey.
Serving as the Terriers co-captain for the 2016-17 campaign, it would culminate with numerous honors that solidified her place in program lore. From the outset, Crossley-Miller gained her third nod to the Hockey East All-Academic Team, which included the achievement of a Master’s Degree in urban affairs. As one of only 15 competitors in NCAA hockey to be nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, in recognition of her fund raising for the IWK Health Centre in Halifax by cycling in the Trans-Am Trail from Oregon to Virginia, she was also bestowed the honor of the 2017 Boston University Woman of the Year. Certainly, a sense of serendipity in the fact the next step in her competitive career continues in New England, taking to the ice for Worcester.
“Since graduating from BU in May 2017, I was not sure if I would ever play competitively again. When the opportunity arose to move back to Massachusetts, it was a no brainer to pursue hockey again.
It is an honor to be able to continue my hockey career, especially in Massachusetts where I have so many incredible hockey memories.
I am so excited to be back near Boston, a place that has become my second home over the years. Not only do I get to continue my hockey career, but I get to continue playing in a place that has endless potential and an unmatched love for the game of hockey.”
In making the transition to the professional ranks, perhaps the most fascinating element is the fact that many of Crossley-Miller’s rivals from her time in the NCAA’s Hockey East conference have now become teammates. Among such players include the likes of Meghan Grieves, Erin Kickham and Casey Stathopoulos, whose allegiances in collegiate play involved skating for the Boston College Eagles, the Terriers’ archrivals.
Intrigued by the novelty of rivalries dissolving, replaced by solidarity as professionals, Crossley-Miller has employed a nostalgic humor. All unified in the goal of propelling the Blades back into the postseason picture, it sets a highly positive tone, one poised to yield positive results towards a long-term of competitive sustainability.
“It has been so much fun getting to know my former rivals as more than just the names on their jerseys. We joke a lot about games and memories from our college careers.
There will always be rivalry especially when it comes to our respective schools playing against one another every season, but it is all fun and games now.
It is an incredible opportunity to have the chance to lace up my skates alongside players from other colleges that I have always had so much respect for - I am happy to have them on my side of the ice this time around!”
Along with fellow rookie, Windsor, Ontario’s Lauren Williams, who was the first pick overall in the 2018 CWHL Draft, they are also part of a special sorority of Canadian-born players that have donned the Blades colors. Joining the likes of Kaleigh Fratkin, Jaclyn Hawkins, Genevieve Lacasse, Kayla Tutino and Tara Watchorn, the torch is symbolically passed on to this dazzling duo of rookie sensations.
Making her professional debut on October 20 in a home date versus the Toronto Furies, Crossley-Miller assembled a valiant effort, finishing the game with a positive plus/minus rating in a hard-fought loss. Displaying a combination of grace and determination in her first game donning the Blades colors, filled with confidence by the team culture, it should translate into strong leadership as the season progresses.
“The competitive atmosphere is something I really enjoyed, and I was definitely more excited than nervous; this was definitely because of my teammates support and encouragement!
This past weekend was an amazing reminder of why I spent so many hours driving to the rink with my parents, training on the days I was so sore I could hardly get out of bed, and the hours and hours of practices growing up.
There are no words to really describe the feeling of playing in your first professional hockey game because when I was growing up it was not even a possibility for me to dream about. I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue to play hockey, and grow the game that has molded me into the woman I am today.”
Worcester has definitely found a gem in Crossley-Miller, committed to restoring the glory for a beleaguered franchise. Ranked among the team’s top 10 in plus/minus rating, she has recorded only four penalty minutes in her first six games, signs of a very disciplined style.
In discussing the franchise’s new start, it is one that has certainly provided a sense of both motivation and civic pride for Crossley-Miller. Keen to reward the loyalty of an expanding fan base with winning hockey, such enthusiasm is reciprocated with every successive game,
“Worcester has certainly welcomed us with open arms! We have had overwhelming support from the community and we are excited to continue to grow the city’s hockey history. The facilities are top-notch and I am so excited to call Worcester home.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
BU Terriers photos by Rich Gagnon
Blades photos by BDZ Sports