Among the feel-good stories of the 2015 CWHL Draft, the acquisition of Kristina Brown in the first round by the Boston Blades was among the finest. Raised in North Andover, Massachusetts, the Cushing Academy alum was the first American-born player selected.
Of note, the draft also represented another great milestone for the Blades as it was the first for general manager Krista Patronick. In addition to working with The Hockey Academy, she is also a fitness coach and has competed as a goaltender.
The chance to return home to her roots is one that carries great meaning. Prior to the Boston Blades, Brown spent two seasons competing in Europe. During the 2013-14 campaign, Brown was a member of the DEC Salzburg Eagles, earning a silver medal. The following season, she would suit up for Finnish club HPK in SM-Sarja, while juggling a job as a preschool teacher.
With two seasons of professional experience, Brown is ready for an exciting third season in her home state, with friends and family in the stands cheering her on,
“I was excited for the opportunity to continue my hockey career in America. After playing hockey for two years in Europe (Austria and Finland), I was just grateful to have the chance to show people in America what I can do as a hockey player.”
Brown signifies Patronick’s first-ever draft pick, and she will be counted upon to soild strong leadership, a quality that she is accustomed to as a former captain at Cushing. Having assembled four solid seasons with the Boston College Eagles, she is not only a recognizable name in New England women’s ice hockey, she brings reliability and durability.
During her final three seasons with the Eagles, Brown never missed a game, playing in 37 games in each season. A multiple Hockey East All-Academic Selection and winner of BC’s Athletic Director’s Award for Academic Achievement, Brown is highly disciplined, bringing a strong work ethic that should set a strong example for the rest of the team.
The finest aspects of her game with the Eagles consisted of winning a high percentage of faceoffs (62.2% as a senior) and a strong shooting percentage. All aspects that should translate into a solid CWHL career, as she is looking to propel the team into a positive direction.
Although the Boston Blades roster is far different from last year’s team, there is a strong sense of excitement that the future shall yield positive results. As the first American-based team to win two Clarkson Cup, the Blades have set a standard of excellence, one that Brown is eager to maintain.
“Boston is a great city, and it is pretty cool to be playing in my home city again.”
Equally exciting for Brown was the chance to grace the field at historic Fenway Park with Blades teammates. With the Clarkson Cup in tow, the chance to sit in the Fenway dugout, it provided a memorable start to her Blades career.
Showing tremendous poise and confidence in her inaugural CWHL game, an October 17 road game against the Toronto Furies, it would not take long for Brown to make an impression. The following day, the Blades not only avenged their opening day loss, they took to the Furies to a shootout, providing Brown with the chance for heroics.
As the second shooter for the Blades, Brown slipped the puck past Furies backstop Christina Kessler. With two-time Clarkson Cup champion Genevieve Lacasse denying Natalie Spooner, the third shooter for the Furies, the result was a 2-1 final that saw Brown earn the First Star of the Game honors.
While such a jubilant experience provided Brown with a pair of significant career milestones in the early days of her CWHL career, she reflects on it with profound perspective,
“I think it was excitement more to get onto the ice with our new team more than playing in my first CWHL game. Of course there is a lot of positive emotion behind playing your first game of any season, but for me, I try to approach every game the same way. In the end it is a hockey game, and I am out there to work hard, enjoy the game and have fun. If I can do that, I can be at my best for our team.”
An All-Saints Day match at Tsongas Arena on November 1 resulted in Brown’s first regulation goal. Just 25 seconds into the third period, Brown would score on Kathy Desjardins, trimming the Calgary Inferno’s lead to two goals. Earning the assists were Erin Kickham and Megan Myers.
Despite the contest finishing in favor of the Calgary Inferno, Brown earned another Star of the Game nod, recognized as the game’s Third Star. More importantly, Brown acknowledged the effort of her team, displaying the leadership that is poised to transform her into one of the franchise cornerstones,
“Scoring my first regulation goal – It was a pretty exciting moment for the team. We were really trying to come out in the third period on Sunday to make a statement, and by scoring we were able to set the tone and gain some momentum.
I am not too concerned with who puts the puck in the net as long as the puck goes into the net. Yet, for me I think I was pretty excited to put one in for our team. We were working too hard not to score.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from Facebook