In the aftermath of the CWHL announcing that their second All-Star Game shall return to Air Canada Centre, a jubilant Jacquie Pierri was among eight Inferno players named as participants. Also one of six blueliners (and 17 players overall) making their All-Star Game debut,
Currently in her third season with the Inferno, the All-Star Game honor represents an unprecedented milestone in her career. Selected in the ninth round of the 2013 CWHL Draft, the native of Montclair, New Jersey played her NCAA hockey for head coach Digit Murphy with the Ivy League’s Brown Bears. Coincidentally, Murphy would be the winning coach for the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game.
A stay-at-home blueliner who brings a profound presence to the Inferno’s defensive unit, Pierri’s reaction upon discovering her selection to the All-Star Game was a combination of surprise and excitement,
“I was really surprised when I found out. Our team is not only talented this year, but also full of leadership, so there were many other teammates I expected and deserve to be on the roster. I feel extremely fortunate to have been selected.”
Although Pierri is highly eager at the chance to grace the ice at Air Canada Centre, which adds a major league feeling to one of the most important dates on the CWHL calendar, there is another element that has contributed to a strong sense of motivation. Considering her stay-at-home approach as a member of the Inferno’s defensive unit, she is prepared to employ such skills against some of the league’s finest scorers, making for a personal challenge,
“In terms of what I am most looking forward to, I may be the only defensive-defenseman at the game and I am really looking forward to the challenge of trying to shut down all the prolific goal scorers that will be there.”
Part of what makes Pierri an All-Star extends beyond the ice. Equally important is the chance to set a positive example in the community and serve as a role model through efforts as a hockey humanitarian. Such an effort has provided Pierri with her favorite moment this season with the Inferno, as a recent fundraiser possessed a strong emotional component for her,
“This past weekend we had our fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. It is a really personal event for me and so my favorite moments so far this season have been how the team rallied around me, the event, and the cause.
Everyone was so on-the-ball with advertising and bringing in auction items for fundraising. They are really what made it so successful. We had a great crowd there. Tons of little kids that were so excited to be a part of the day and we pulled out a win!”
Since joining the Inferno in the autumn of 2013, Pierri’s career has certainly grown by a quantum leap. From playing for the likes of former NHLers Tim Bothwell and Kevin Haller, to current head coach Scott Reid, she has been part of an exciting time for CWHL hockey in Calgary, as the improvements in her game have mirrored those of the Inferno, currently holding to top spot in the league standings by five points over the upstart Brampton Thunder.
In discussing which elements of her game have improved since joining the Inferno, Pierri observes that an overall development has covered a wide breadth. This season, Pierri has been greatly influenced by newly arrived assistant coach Gina Kingsbury, a former blueliner with Canada’s national team that captured two Winter Games gold medals.
While her willingness to learn has paid positive dividends, the All-Star Game shall allow Pierri the chance to give back. Competing in a remarkable showcase of women’s hockey talent, she has the chance to inspire a group of young women in attendance to pursue their own hockey dreams,
“Everything has improved about my game since I started in the CWHL. The most noticeable thing for me has been adjusting to the speed and talent in the league.
My first reaction on these incredibly skilled players is to play the body, but women’s hockey requires much more skill on defense. It is a big adjustment to pivot with the player and control them to the boards or corner. I think I am finally getting the hang of it! I have been able to steadily stay out of the penalty box more and more each year.”
Photo credit: Dave Holland
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”