Boston Pride’s defender, Kaleigh Fratkin, was a part of history as the team is the first franchise in NWHL history to win the Isobel Cup twice. Despite a shortened bubble season in Lake Placid, New York at the historic Herb Brooks Arena, Fratkin accumulated nine points in regular season play, making her the league’s point and assists leader.
In Lake Placid, there was certainly significant differences for players as they dealt with health and safety protocols that kept them pretty isolated outside of practices and games.
“Lake Placid was certainly challenging. I felt safe at the beginning of Placid. Precautions were taken very seriously, we were going through testing protocols and wearing masks at all times. We ate meals in our own rooms, couldn’t congregate with our teammates. Mentally, it was definitely difficult for the group, but it was also to be expected with everything that has been going on in the world for the past year with the global pandemic,” Fratkin noted.
The Pride’s first game against 2019 Isobel Cup champions the Minnesota Whitecaps, resulted in a 1-2 loss. Finding their rhythm quickly in their game against the Buffalo Beauts with a 5-1 win and Fratkin earning her first three points, the team hit a roadblock by losing the next three straight games. After an odd blip of losses, the Pride regained ground by winning the final three games and Fratkin earned an additional five points before the season came to a 53 day pause due to health and safety concerns.
In that long pause between regular season play and the semi-finals, Fratkin unfortunately tested positive for the COVID-19 virus along with several other teammates.
On top of dealing with the bubble shutdown, Kaleigh Fratkin was also diagnosed with COVID-19.
— Cealey Godwin (@CealeyGodwin) February 12, 2021
On March 26th, the Boston Pride was ready to face off the No. 1 Toronto Six, the newest franchise in the NWHL who they initially lost to in regular season play. Despite having multiple teammates test positive for COVID-19 and a long pause in between their season games and the semi-finals, the Pride came back strong and healthy to beat out the Six in a 6-2 victory.
Feeling a little deja vu, this time last year, the Pride and Whitecaps were supposed to face off for the 2020 Isobel Cup before it was officially called off due to the aggressive onset of COVID-19. Now, one year later, these two teams were ready to finally face off for the Cup in what would be an incredible and intense matchup. The Whitecaps were not making anything easy for the Pride as both teams went back and forth each period; heading into the third the Pride was up 3-1. The Whitecaps, Allie Thunstrom, closed the score gap on a speedy quick release shot off of a sweet pass, making it her second goal of the game.
Even with their best efforts, the Pride answered back on the power play, Taylor Wenczkowski buries one, securing the lead and the Whitecaps were unable to make a comeback.
“Hard work, willingness to battle through all adversity and full buy-in is what allowed our team to be successful this year. This year presented challenges we have never faced in our lives. It was very challenging on all fronts, but I am so impressed by every single member of our team who rose to the challenge and stayed the course for our main goal,” Fratkin commented on the Pride’s successful season.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) April 1, 2021
As Fratkin received the Isobel Cup from captain, Jillian Dempsey, it was her first time ever raising the cup after being in the league for six years.
“Words can’t quite describe what it was like when Demps handed me the cup. Lifting that cup has been a dream of mine since the inception of this league, and finally getting the opportunity to lift the cup is something I am so proud of.”
*Feature image c/o Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images