One of the essential individuals in helping to shape the mythos of the NWHL, Hayley Moore continues to build on an already amazing legacy. While the third season in the league’s nascent history saw Moore ascend to the post of Deputy Commissioner, symbolic of her exemplary leadership that was prominently on display in two superlative seasons with the Boston Pride, said legacy saw her remain close to her roots.
Tapping into her management skills, a role that she fulfilled admirably as the first-ever general manager of the Pride, helping to construct the inaugural Isobel Cup champions from 2016, Moore took on a new and exciting role this season, running parallel to her duties as deputy commissioner. Commendably taking on said role, it subsequently shaped a proud milestone in NWHL history.
Heading into the 2018 Winter Games, the US national women’s team, composed of more than a dozen NWHL alums, participated in a series of exhibition games throughout North America. During this journey, the US team admirably took the time to add to the growing legacy of professional women’s ice hockey with a unique two-game series contested in Wesley Chapel, Florida, site of the US training camp.
Such a landmark series consisted of a gathering of All-Stars from the current crop of NWHL talent, signifying the first time that the league’s finest faced off against the US national team. As a side note, some of the national team’s most notable players were also essential figures in shaping the NWHL’s heritage.
Among such heroes included Kacey Bellamy, an Isobel Cup champion with the Pride, Brianna Decker, who captured the 2017 NWHL scoring title, Hilary Knight, one of the team captains in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, along with Meghan Duggan, one of only two women to appear in back-to-back Isobel Cup finals with two different teams. Worth noting, all four played for Moore as members of the Pride.
Assuming the mantle of general manager for “Team NWHL”, Moore assembled a team that reflected the phenomenal growth in the astounding level of talent that continues to grace league ice. In discussing the process behind putting the team together, there was certainly an approach built on collaboration and respect, one that Moore accepted as an exhilarating challenge, evolving into a labor of love.
“Putting together this team was an incredible honor, and started as bit of a daunting task, with the depth of talent that exists in our league. It was one of the most exciting projects I have been a part of in the NWHL, however. The selection process was lengthy and very collaborative.
I relied heavily on input from all four coaching staffs as well as worked in consultation with USA Hockey’s Head Scout, Matt Kelly. At the end of the day there was a lot of input and evaluation time considered in order to put the pieces of the puzzle together and create the Team NWHL roster.”
With a roster that represented an amalgam of talent from the NWHL’s inaugural season, also featuring rookie stars and Canadian-born skaters, every one of the founding franchises (Boston, Buffalo, Connecticut, New York/Metro) enjoyed the privilege of placing players on the roster.
Between the pipes, the NWHL boasted the first two recipients of the league’s Goaltender of the Year Award: Brittany Ott, a member of the first Isobel Cup championship team, and Katie Fitzgerald. Other Isobel Cup champions included Corinne Buie, the only player to win a pair of Isobel Cup titles with two different teams, Jillian Dempsey, Alaska’s Jordan Smelker and Alyssa Gagliardi, among others.
Kiira Dosdall, an inaugural member of the New York/Metropolitan Riveters, also enhanced the veteran presence. Teammate Kelsey Koelzer, the first black player taken with the top pick in a professional women’s ice hockey draft, also enjoyed the chance to don the NWHL jersey.
Riveters pride also included a trio of players whose hockey experience also involves donning the USA jersey. Courtney Burke is an alum of the US Under-18 program, while Erika Lawler (Vancouver 2010) and Michelle Picard (Sochi 2014) each have silver medals from the Winter Games. As a side note, Picard was also bestowed the honor of serving as team captain.
Adding a unique element to this series included the Canadian contingent, as Connecticut Whale star forward Kelly Babstock, along with Buffalo Beauts’ first year players Sarah Edney and Jess Jones, all Team Canada alums at the U18 or U22/Developmental Level, joined Team NWHL. Another notable first year player on the roster included Jenny Ryan, who skated collegiately for the Wisconsin Badgers. Taking into account that Decker, Duggan and other US stars such as Hilary Knight and Alex Rigsby also competed with the Badgers, it was a unique element to see both rosters feature a least one star from the Wisconsin program.
Although Team NWHL were bested in both contests, the level of play was nothing short of valiant. The opening game saw a scoreless tie after the first two periods. Fittingly, US blueliner Gigi Marvin, an Isobel Cup champion with the Pride, scored the first goal of the series, as there was a symbolic connection to both teams. Before game’s end, Amanda Pelkey, another skater who calls the Pride her club team, added her name to the scoresheet in a 3-0 final.
The second game saw Brittany Ott record 13 saves in the opening period with a goal by Hayley Scamurra resulting in the first lead of the series for Team NWHL. With the offensive floodgates bursting in the second, as the US replied with five goals, Smelker would add her name to the list of Isobel Cup champions that recorded at least one goal in said series, recording the last Team NWHL goal of the game in a 6-2 final.
In spite of the final results, there was no feeling of disappointment. Rather, a collective feeling of victory helped define the tone of this compelling series, one that Moore was exceptionally pleased to have contributed towards it. Discussing whether Moore was proud of the performance of Team NWHL, her enthusiasm rose to the surface, beaming with jubilation over the achievement that helped add another exciting chapter for women’s hockey in the United States,
“I am not even sure proud does it justice. I know I speak on behalf of the entire NWHL in saying that it was an unforgettable weekend on so many levels—we are honored to have been a part of USA Hockey’s Olympic preparations, incredibly proud of our players for their representation of the NWHL, their respective teams, and themselves. We are inspired to have opened a new door in women’s sports collaborations, hoping this is the first of many similar series moving forward.”
Considering that since the inaugural season, the NWHL has featured its franchises in exhibition contests against international teams, including those from China, Japan and Russia, along with the United States Under-18 national team, this event not only expanded on this remarkable initiative to grow the game, while fostering friendship and goodwill, it also resulted in elevating the already prominent level of competition.
Undoubtedly, that same spirit of sportsmanship is part of another notable event for Moore. In an eventful season that has Team NWHL vs. Team USA, a sell-out crowd for the third NWHL All-Star Game, along with the first regular season game in an NHL arena, the feeling of momentum shall extend beyond the final faceoff.
Employing the sense of unity and teamwork that has helped positively shape the culture of the league, Moore and Pride alum Kelly Cooke, currently the head of the NWHL’s Safety Committee are both participating in a most noble cause. Participating in the 2018 Boston Marathon, this tremendous duo is working towards raising funds for Journey Forward Boston, a commendable effort filled with plenty of emotion, while honoring a former member of the Pride.
Having suffered an abrupt end to her career due to a spinal cord injury, Denna Laing’s perseverance is an inspiration for both the Pride organization and the entire NWHL. Testament to Laing’s impact is the fact that a league award is named in her honor.
Showing strong leadership, Moore has also organized a crowdfunding page for Journey Forward Boston 2018, a non-profit dedicated to bringing improvement to those afflicted with spinal cord injury through an exercise program. Mirroring the goal of Journey Forward, one which helps to bring about encouragement, Moore’s dedication and compassion are exemplary illustrations of what makes her such an admired individual and a role model in the hockey community.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
To learn more about Journey Forward Boston 2018, please visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/journeyforwardboston2018/hayleymoore?utm_campaign=oc&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=crowdrise
All images obtained from Facebook