Belonging to the Secret PWHPA All-Star Team, it signified another sensational summit attained for Alexa Gruschow. A highly skilled forward from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Gruschow’s athletic resume includes competition with the Washington Pride, plus a four year career with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, graduating as the program’s third all-time leading scorer.
Capturing a scoring title, league MVP honors and an Isobel Cup championship with an American-based team back in 2018, the transition to the PWHPA has resulted in Gruschow’s offensive mastery prominently on display. Certainly, the privilege of being named to the PWHPA’s inaugural All-Star Team serves as validation.
Leading off the 2021-22 season, Gruschow, whose club team is the Boston-based Team Bauer, graced the ice with her fellow PWHPA All-Stars. Participating in a three-game exhibition series versus the US National Team in Blaine, Minnesota, the first of several anticipated series versus various national teams, the early season highlight provided Gruschow an opportunity to see numerous familiar faces,
“It was a fun experience to be a part of the first PWHPA all-star team and be involved with Team USA’s pre-Olympic training schedule. I have some friends on the team (and some teammates from last year), so it was nice to see them and be on the ice with them again. It was definitely a challenging couple of games, but exciting to see how solid their team looked going into the Olympics. It’s always an honor to share the ice with some of the best players in the world!”
Among the skaters from Team USA, there was a pair that called Gruschow a teammate during the previous PWHPA season. Of note, Brianna Decker and Megan Keller joined Gruschow as members of New Hampshire’s entry in PWHPA play, named after the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Reflecting on the opportunity to play against Team USA, elements of achievement and levity encompass a defining moment for Gruschow. With the PWHPA All-Stars held scoreless through the first two periods of play of the opening game in Blaine, it was Gruschow that snapped Alex Rigsby-Cavallini’s hopes for a shutout, resulting in the game’s only goal for the All-Stars.
“It was only a highlight because I scored on my friend Rigs and I got to joke around with her afterwards that I spoiled her shutout for that game.”
Since joining the PWHPA, a strong point of pride has involved two significant elements. From the opportunity to be part of two highly historic moments for professional women’s ice hockey in the United States, the experiences relate to a major league feeling, one worthy of all women that play professionally.
Said moments involved the tremendous thrill of gracing the ice at a pair of NHL arenas. Beginning with New York’s Madison Square Garden, followed by the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, PWHPA competition in both venues signified the first-ever professional women’s ice hockey events held there.
Adding to the feeling of history was the fact that PWHPA games were also broadcast on American network television. Wearing the number 16 on her jersey, Gruschow even scored a goal on Maddie Rooney at Enterprise Center.
From the television exposure, to the NHL arenas, and the opportunity to compete in the American Secret Cup competition, it has provided Gruschow with a lifetime of memories. Excited at the prospects of the PWHPA’s promising future, surrounded by many strong women, including supporter Billie Jean King, the opportunity to grace the ice represents a powerful statement about sporting equality, a facet that fills Gruschow with fulfillment,
“It was amazing to play in NHL arenas last year and have a full broadcast of the games on network television. This is the treatment and visibility that women’s pro hockey deserves, and we are striving to make this the norm for our sport.
One of my favorite things about playing in the PWHPA is being involved with legendary leaders within and outside of our sport. It is an honor to be on the forefront of building a better future for pro women’s hockey alongside some inspiring legends.”
Feature Image credit: Sarah Steir |Getty Images