As the New York Riveters inaugural season has introduced some exceptional athletes and strong women to America’s largest sports market, one of its most accomplished is Bray Ketchum. Having enjoyed success at every level of her hockey career, she enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the NWHL’s inaugural game, an October 11 contest against the Connecticut Whale, winning three faceoffs.
Raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, she was the recipient of the 2007 New England Prep School Div. II Player of the Year Award, along with being a three-time scoring champion at Greenwich Academy and its team captain. Such leadership skills have served her well, as she was a remarkable hockey humanitarian in her NCAA career with the Yale Bulldogs.
Having enjoyed the privilege of donning the USA Hockey jersey with its Under-22 program, Ketchum was a member of the Yale Athletics Department’s Kiphuth Leadership Academy. Also donating her time to Yale fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, while also taking the time to teach sports skills to local youth, she was also a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
With the New York Riveters, Ketchum has proven to be one of the leaders, setting a strong standard by example. Having won the prestigious Clarkson Cup before signing with the Riveters, it only added to her strong leadership role.
Since joining the Riveters, her first career NWHL goal would supply her with a remarkable milestone and a season highlight. By game’s end, her goal would also stand as the game-winning tally, helping propel the Riveters to a 3-2 win, their first in franchise history. It was also a game that saw goaltender Nana Fujimoto set a league record with 62 saves in one game. For her efforts, Bram gained Second Star of the Game honors.
Before the calendar year would expire, the Boston Pride would figure prominently once again in Ketchum’s sensational 2015. Along with teammate Meghan Fardelmann, the two were loaned to the Pride (due to US national team commitements for some of their roster players) for an unprecedented event on New Year’s Eve 2015. Prior to the NHL alumni game at the Winter Classic, the Pride and Les Canadiennes de Montreal took to the frozen surface at Gillette Stadium for the first-ever outdoor women’s professional hockey game.
“The experience at Gillette Stadium was unforgettable. The atmosphere was awesome. I got chills as we walked out onto the field/rink. I tried to soak in every second and by the time it was over, I couldn’t believe it. I had a blast.”
Gaining the experience to be a Boston Pride player for one day presented Ketchum with the chance to reunite with several former teammates. Several of Ketchum’s teammates from the 2014-15 edition of the Blades made the migration to the Pride. The chance to play together for one special day brought back pleasant memories of past glories, while creating new ones.
As a side note, former Blades member Kaleigh Fratkin was another loaned player for this game. A member of the Connecticut Whale, Fratkin (who is also the first Canadian to sign an NWHL contract) was joined by Kate Buesser and Shannon Doyle as players loaned to the Pride for the Women’s Winter Classic.
“It was fun playing with some of my former teammates again. You never forget those experiences you have with certain teams, so it was great to be back with them for the day.”
With teamwork and respect as the cornerstones of her hockey career, Ketchum was very proud of the chance to represent the Riveters with Fardelmann, along with the Pride and the NWHL in a historic event that shall only add to Ketchum’s career achievements. Although the abbreviated game ended in a 1-1 tie, it was a fitting finish as the real victory was the great step forward for the women’s game, an empowering result that Ketchum hopes will be the springboard for greater things to come in the game,
“It was a great day for the NWHL. We made history (again) and hopefully this game will become an annual thing. I think it was special for everyone involved.”
In the aftermath of the Women’s Winter Classic, Ketchum was part of another event that consisted of strong emotions. On January 9, the Connecticut Whale hosted the New York Riveters at Ingalis Rink in New Haven, home to the Yale Bulldogs, in a fundraiser for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
Mandi Schwartz was a key figure in Ketchum’s NCAA career. A teammate and friend at Yale, Schwartz tragically lost her battle with leukemia in April 2011. As the Foundation works towards the life and legacy of a remarkable individual, Ketchum is proud to serve as a board member.
Through events such as the annual White Out for Mandi hockey game at Ingalis Rink, a Bone Marrow Registry (which NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan registered for at the January 9 contest) that has found 24 matches, and a Run for Mandi, all have been crucial in preserving her memory. As the NWHL is proud to give back to the community, it was a fitting gesture to hold a fundraiser at Ingalis Rink, as so many lives in the hockey community were touched by Schwartz.
Ketchum also chooses to honor the life of her fallen teammate by wearing number 17 with the Riveters, the number that Schwartz wore at Yale. The chance to go back to Ingalis Rink brought with it many emotions for Ketchum. Her home rink for four seasons, it has also seen her and teammates enjoy their finest hour, all working tirelessly in a bone marrow drive to find a match for Schwartz. The game definitely held a special place in Ketchum’s heart, as she reminisced on the impact of a remarkable person,
“It was really special going back to Yale on Saturday night. I played at Ingalls for four years and have some great memories in that rink. I was also able to celebrate and honor a teammate and friend of mine, Mandi Schwartz.
I played with Mandi for almost two seasons at Yale. When Mandi got sick in 2008, she was more concerned about the people around her than herself. She was the most loving, passionate and selfless person. Although Mandi lost her battle to cancer in April of 2011, her legacy lives on. Mandi is a huge part of why I still play the game of hockey. The Mandi Schwartz Foundation seeks to honor Mandi’s legacy by helping others in her name.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Riveters action shot by NWHL Images, Women’s Winter Classic by Getty Images
For more information on the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, please visit: http://www.mandi17.org/
Follow the Mandi Schwartz Foundaton on twitter at: https://twitter.com/mandisf17