As the arrival of the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale adds to a growing legacy of elite women’s ice hockey in the Nutmeg State, there has been no shortage of highly talented players contributing to such a historic time. Among them is Kelly Babstock, a high scoring forward whose talents ushered in a golden era for the Hamden-based Quinnipiac Bobcats women’s ice hockey program.
The chance to compete with the Whale presents has allowed Babstock a cherished opportunity to continue adding memorable moments to her exceptional hockey career in Connecticut. A member of the NCAA’s 200-point club, Babstock is one of the most talented competitors to have competed in NCAA women’s ice hockey in the state. Starting with a 59-point campaign (ranked fifth among all NCAA competitors) in her freshman season with the Bobcats, it was the launching pad towards even more exceptional milestones.
During the NWHL’s Opening Day, it resulted in the chance for Babstock to make her mark and become a key contributor to its first chapter. Part of a remarkable day of festivities which signified the league’s arrival, there was not only a profound sense of history for all involved, such momentum was highlighted by a landmark game between the Connecticut Whale and the visiting New York Riveters in Chelsea Piers.
In the third period of the contest, Babstock slipped the puck past Riveters goaltender Nana Fujimoto to become the first Canadian-born player to score a goal in NWHL play. Earning the assist on such a historic goal was Kelli Stack, who logged the first multi-point game in the NWHL with her Opening Day performance.
As said goal provided the Whale with a commanding lead, it ensured that a fellow Canadian (and Whale teammate) would get an opportunity to make history. In winning the first-ever game in NWHL history, goatlender Jaimie Leonoff was also the first Canadian goaltender to win an NWHL game in regular season play. Adding to such momentum on Opening Day was the fact that Whale teammate Kaleigh Fratkin was the first Canadian born player to sign an NWHL contract
“I honestly did not know that, but I think that is a pretty cool thing to have under my belt. Being a part of this league is an experience in itself and now that I know that, I am very proud I can be a contribution.”
During her NCAA career, Babstock’s contributions were nothing short of impressive. From eclipsing the Bobcats all-time scoring record as a sophomore, she would graduate from the program as its first-ever All-American and only Top 10 nominee for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award.
Following her record-breaking four-year run with the Bobcats, she would establish herself as a two sport star, competing on the varsity lacrosse team. Of note, Babstock would log a goal and an assist in her lacrosse debut for the Bobcats, testament to her athletic gifts. By her seventh game, she would accumulate 18 points.
In the aftermath of the Bobcats qualifying for their inaugural appearance in the NCAA Tournament, a landmark moment in program history, Babstock was among a group of Bobcats stars breaking new ground with the incipient NWHL. On the Whale alone, she is joined by Shiann Darkangelo and goaltender Chelsea Laden, both on USA Hockey’s radar. As a side note, Morgan Fritz-Ward lined up opposite them as a member of the New York Riveters on opening day.
“I am very proud to see many of my former Bobcat teammates in this league. They are all really good at what they do and I am happy that we can share this experience together.”
With the Whale having won their first three games in franchise history, Babstock ranks in the top 10 in the NWHL scoring race. Along with fellow Whale scoring leaders Kaleigh Fratkin and Kelli Stack, the results have been exciting for the fans in Chelsea Piers, as all three are likely to appear in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game. While Babstock would love to end her season with the inaugural Isobel Cup, the beginning has provided some highly memorable moments for this promising superstar.
“The highlight of the season so far has been the first game. The drop of the first pick was history in the making and I will never forget the feeling of exhilaration and excitement (that) the environment and fans had brought to the game.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
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