As the Boston Pride add an exciting new dimension to elite women’s ice hockey in New England, it is only fitting that Cherie Hendrickson is part of its inaugural roster. A charter member of the Boston Blades, a team that her father Paul helped make a reality, the chance to compete with the Pride extends a proud legacy.
Providing a solid presence on the blueline, Hendrickson competed as a stay-at-home blueliner at the NCAA level with the Providence Friars from 2004-08, also showing flashes of offensive brilliance in her senior season. Of note, the next chapter in her hockey career took her north of the border where she was a member of the Burlington Barracudas, located west of Toronto, before bringing the Blades to Boston.
Of note, her first brush with the Pride came during its camp in May, which saw players divided into Team Black and Team White. Suiting up for Team Black, she was joined by notable players such as Alyssa Gagliardi, Brittany Ott and Jordan Smelker, among others.
Making her debut with the Pride in their second ever game, a 7-1 final against the New York Riveters at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Center, she would record one shot on net, while providing strong disciplined hockey on the blueline. It is a role that she has employed highly effectively during her hockey career.
“It has been so exciting to be back playing hockey in Boston in the historic first season of the NWHL. I definitely missed playing and competing last year while I was focusing on school, but most of all I missed the camaraderie with my teammates. We compete hard, but we also have a lot of fun.”
Between her final game with the Boston Blades in 2013 (which saw Hendrickson claim the Clarkson Cup) and her October 2015 debut with the Boston Pride, Hendrickson’s personal and athletic journey has been highly inspiring. In addition to competing in the Boston Marathon, Hendrickson spent the 2013-14 season with Moscow Tornado.
Recruited by the elite European women’s club, Hendrickson played for head coach Aleksey Chistyakov. Led by team captain, Yekaterina Smolentseva (who signed with the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale as a free agent), Hendrickson helped contribute to a European Women’s Cup Championship, playing alongside several other members of Russia’s national women’s team.
Other non-Russian players on the club included former CHA Player of the Year Kelley Steadman, who scored two goals in the championship game against ESC Planegg, Canadian-born Brittany Simpson and Zuzana Tomcikova, a goaltender for the Slovakian national women’s team. Considering that Hendrickson was accustomed to playing with elite members of the US national team on the Blades (such as Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight and Kelli Stack), she was a perfect fit for Moscow Tornado.
In the aftermath of the season, an even greater victory took part off the ice. Having worked as an EMT in Massachusetts, one of her goals was to return to the medical field. Accepted into the Tufts School of Medicine in their Physician Assistant’s Program, the only program of its kind in the state, Hendrickson hung up her skates in 2014-15 in order to take part in a curriculum that consisted of 27 courses, ranging from anatomy to physical diagnosis, along with women’s health and rehabilitation medicine. Having employed strong teamwork skills at all levels of her distinguished hockey career, the opportunity to be part of a health-care team is one that should see Hendrickson make a significant contribution.
While Hendrickson continues to balance the responsibilities of her education, she is also one of four practice players with the Blades, ready to compete in case of a player injury. Joining Hendrickson are the likes of Denna Laing, a former team captain with the Princeton Tigers, Meagan Mangene, who won two gold medals for the US at the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds and Casey Pickett, who captured the 2015 Clarkson Cup and once competed in an outdoor NCAA women’s game at historic Fenway Park.
Although Hendrickson did not travel with the Blades for their inaugural game against the Buffalo Beauts, there was a very high level of interest. Having played with Hendrickson on the Blades and Moscow Tornado was Kelley Steadman, one of the Beauts’ practice players.
Due to some Canadian-born players enduring struggles with their visa, Steadman earned the opportunity to compete in the Beauts’ contest against Boston. The result was a fairy-tale setting that saw Steadman score the first goal in Beauts history. Although they may be on competing clubs in the NWHL’s Founders Division, there is no shortage of mutual respect between the two, as both are strong role models for the younger players in the league.
“I am one of the practice players for Boston, so I only dress for games in which a full-time player is absent due to injury or work conflict so I was not on the trip for the Buffalo game. But, there certainly has been some trash talking back and forth between me and Kelley (laughs). She’s a good friend of mine, and I’d love to play against her at some point this year.
While Hendrickson is excited over the strong start of the Blades, she is addressing the season with a game-by-game approach, signs of maturity and strong leadership, she is aware of the impact of winning the inaugural Isobel Cup. Taking into account that Hendrickson captured a Clarkson Cup in 2013 (of which her name is engraved on the Cup), along with a European championship in 2014, a third championship would add to a proud career.
“We have a ways to go before setting our minds on the Isobel Cup, but particularly since this is the inaugural season for the NWHL and considering how important this league is for young girls to aspire to – it would be really special to capture the title the first year. Right now we’re just taking it game by game, and trying to get better every time we play.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
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