In the aftermath of the 2014-15 CWHL season, it may be remembered most for the heroics and absolute dominance of Brianna Decker. Starting with a league-record seven-point output (three goals, four assists, +5 rating) in her CWHL debut on January 17, 2015, Decker not only proved to be the key factor in the Blades run to the Clarkson Cup, she would earn the league’s Rookie of the Year Award, following teammate Jillian Dempsey who won the Award in 2014.
By season’s end, it would come as no surprise that she was honored as the CWHL’s Rookie of the Year award winner. In only 12 regular season games, Decker (who also won the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award in NCAA play) finished with an astounding 32 points, leading the league with 2.66 points per game and tying with teammate Tara Watchorn for a league-best +25 rating. Logging a point in 11 of the 12 games that she appeared in, the Blades enjoyed a 10-1-0 mark, a key factor in the Blades finishing with the league’s best record.
Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Decker had nine games with multi-point performances; one game at seven points, three games where she registered three points, three games with two points and two games with four points. The only loss that Decker endured was a 4-3 shootout loss to Calgary on February 14, where she had an assist on a goal scored by Jillian Dempsey.
Not only did her 32 points lead all rookies, it would lead all American-born players in CWHL play. Of note, the second highest scoring rookie was Calgary’s Brittany Esposito with 25 points while Hilary Knight’s 22 points (accomplished in 13 games) made her the second highest scoring American-born player this season.
Had Decker played a full season on such a torrid scoring pace, not only would she have become the first American-born player to win the Angela James Bowl, she would have broken the Blades franchise marks for most points scored in one season. Of note, Kelli Stack still remains the Blades record-holder for most points in one season, along with most points by a rookie, with 42 points in 2011-12.
Of note, there were still several rookie records that Decker obliterated. Not only did she start her CWHL career with a remarkable ten-game scoring streak, she would register 10 points in her first two career games. Another mark that was shattered included 16 points in her first four CWHL games.
Compared to Meghan Agosta, who set the CWHL’s rookie record with 80 points in 27 games during the 2011-12 season (an average of 2.96 points per game), she logged only seven points in her first four career games, while registering only two points in her league debut (a two-goal performance against Brampton). Agosta’s highest point total during that record-setting season was six points (accomplished in three separate games), while Decker beat that mark with seven points in her league debut.
During the postseason, Decker would lead all scorers with 8 points, while Knight was close behind with 7 points. Her postseason heroics included a natural hat trick against the Toronto Furies, three power play goals, a short-handed tally and a game winning goal.
Along with Knight, both would log two points in the Clarkson Cup final against Montreal, helping to snap Charline Labonte’s shutout streak of over 130 minutes, deflating Montreal’s confidence with each goal. Considering that fellow rookies Monique Lamoureux and Janine Weber finished in the top four in playoff scoring, complemented by Weber scoring Clarkson Cup winning goal, the black and gold boast one of the most exciting rookie classes of all time.
Providing the Blades with their second championship in three seasons, the season was nothing short of a coming-out party for Brianna Decker. Considering that both Knight and Decker were teammates at the University of Wisconsin and at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, their on-ice chemistry has not only established them as world-class competitors, but should result in several more Clarkson Cup triumphs. Not even 25 yet, there is no doubt that Winter Games gold will also follow in her exciting future, complementing her NCAA Frozen Four title, the IIHF World Championship and a newly earned Clarkson Cup.
Image obtained from: http://www.pointstreaksites.com/view/cwhlbostonblades/boston-blades-news/news_267393