On the road to the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, every player had their own unique story, resulting in a series of cherished memories. In her journey towards becoming an All-Star, Kaleigh Fratkin was a model of consistency, helping propel the Connecticut Whale to a first place spot, while leading the team in scoring, respectively.
Among five players representing the Connecticut Whale at the All-Star Game, held at Buffalo’s Harbor Center, Fratkin had already established herself as a significant part of the club’s early lore. In addition to being the first Canadian signed to an NWHL contract, she would also become the first Canadian registered a point in regular season play.
An additional brush with history is the fact that Fratkin is one of only four women to have competed in both the Women’s Winter Classic and the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game. Loaned to the Boston Pride for one day with Whale teammates Kate Buesser and Shannon Doyle, the other three women that were part of this historic group included Blake Bolden, Emily Field and Brittany Ott. Ironically, the three were all part of Team Pfalzer.
Suiting up for Team Knight, Fratkin was Knight’s third selection in the NWHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. She was joined by Whale teammates Jordan Brickner, Jaimie Leonoff and Kelli Stack. The lone Whale teammate that was part of Team Pfalzer was Shiann Darkangelo.
While Fratkin has enjoyed the privilege of donning the Canadian jersey for the Under-22/Development Program, along with a sensational four-year career with the Boston University Terriers, the NWHL All-Star Game represented a cherished milestone for Fratkin as she explains,
“It was so much fun to play in the All-Star Game. It was actually my first ever All-Star Game so taking part in every event this weekend was so unbelievable. Meeting fans at Saturday’s skate was a great time to talk to young kids and fans from all over. Then the game itself on Sunday was something I will never forget!
Overall, there was a strong feeling of national pride for Fratkin. With four Canadians named to the inaugural game, Fratkin was joined on Team Knight by Leonoff and Buffalo Beauts forward Shelby Bram, who was the first Canadian to log a point in franchise history. The lone Canadian on Team Pfalzer would be Bram’s teammate on the Beauts, Devon Skeats. As a side note, Skeats would score a goal in the NWHL All-Star Game, the first Canadian to do so.
Such a proud contribution to the Canadian aspect of NWHL hockey was one that added to Fratkin’s feelings of jubilation and accomplishment during such a historic event. The presence of Whale teammate Leonoff certainly enhanced the experience for Fratkin. Not only did both play in the first game in NWHL history, an October 11, 2015 contest against the New York Riveters, Leonoff would be credited with the win. In the first month of 2016, the two added to their proud legacy as All-Star teammates.
“Jaimie has become one of my very good friends this year, so not only being Canadian and being able to share that bond but being teammates as well made it a special weekend. I did not really realize until after, when someone mentioned it. Being one of the four Canadians in the event was definitely an honor.”
One of Fratkin’s most admirable qualities is her humor, which only adds to her overall likeability. With a winning smile that is just as prevalent as her exceptional playmaking abilities, even the most novice fan can identify that Fratkin brings a genuine enjoyment to the rin.
During the All-Star Skills Competition, Fratkin was part of what proved to be an event filled with humor. From one goaltender being the recipient of a pie in the face, an obligatory prank in any sport, Fratkin showed that she was a good sport. Participating in the hardest shot competition with a fuzzy yellow chicken mask, it was one of the highlights of the entire All-Star Weekend, bringing a combination of levity and enjoyment while adding another unique moment in a sensational season to remember for Fratkin.
“The chicken head came about quite randomly. Leo and I went to a local costume store to buy some funny props to prank people during the skills comp. I came across different costume heads and figured because there was no Whale head, and I did not want to wear a Buffalo head.
Therefore, the chicken head was the perfect match for our yellow and blue uniforms. It may have been a poor choice though because I could not see at all, I was looking out of the chicken beak. Needless to say, I am just happy I even made contact with the puck!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook