In what has shaped into a rebuilding year for the valiant and admirable Boston Blades, one of the season’s highlights has included the emergence of Kristina Brown. Selected in the first round of the 2015 CWHL Draft, the first American selected in said draft, Brown is one of the franchise’s building blocks looking to bring the Blades back into the playoff picture.
An exciting step forward in Brown’s career included the chance to compete in the CWHL’s second All-Star Game. One of four Blades named to the game, Brown made her debut with the club on October 17, 2015. Coincidentally, said debut also took place in Toronto. Her first goal was scored on November 1 in a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Inferno with Erin Kickham and Megan Myers earning the assists. Following it up with a chance to grace NHL ice at the Air Canada Centre for the All-Star Game was one filled with treasured memories,
“Playing in the Air Canada Centre was a really special experience. Before our game we got to watch the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens practice. It was really quite cool to see that.
Being at the Air Canada Centre was unbelievable. There were 7000 fans and it was loud. When Poulin and Wick hopped on the ice, you could really hear the crowd roar. Each day it feels like women’s hockey grows and grows, and playing at an NHL rink in front of 7,000 fans was definitely a monstrous step.”
Joining her among the Blades at the All-Star Game included the likes of fellow Boston College alum Dru Burns, team captain Tara Watchorn and All-World goaltender Genevieve Lacasse, both members of the Canadian national women’s team. As a side note, all Blades members had the number 24 on their helmets, in honor of Boston-area player (and 2015 Clarkson Cup champion) Denna Laing, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a hockey game.
Selected by captain Julie Chu in the CWHL All-Star Frozen Fantasy Draft, Brown was the only Blades player that would be part of Team Black’s roster. All other Blades at the All-Star Game were part of Team White, led by captain Natalie Spooner.
For a young promising player such as Brown, the All-Star experience allowed her the rare opportunity to name competitors from other CWHL rosters as teammates for one day. Among such teammates included the likes of Caroline Ouellette, the CWHL’s all-time leading scorer, Marie-Philip Poulin, who would be honored as Most Valuable Player and Sena Suzuki, the first international player (born outside Canada and the US) to compete in the event.
“Playing with all of the members of Team Black was a really cool experience. It was defintiely humbling and an honor to represent the Blades on Team Black. I kept joking with some of the Les Canadiennes players that it was nice to be on their team because they are always hitting me with their shots and I would not have to do that for a day.”
Among such an assortment of remarkable and sensational talent, there was one All-Star teammate that Brown grew up idolizing, holding a positive impact on her career. The privilege of being able to call Julie Chu a teammate, even if only for one day, added to the jubilation of such a career milestone.
A four-time Winter Games participant who would eventually become an ambassador for the game, Chu left a remarkable legacy in CWHL hockey. In addition to becoming the first player to win back-to-back Clarkson Cups with different teams (Minnesota and Montreal), Chu would also be the first to win three straight Cups.
“I think in terms of "enjoying calling (someone) teammate" for a day, I would have to say Julie Chu. Being American, growing up, I got the chance to skate with her for a lot of summers, and I always looked up to her for not just her talent but her work ethic and kindness. So, being able to skate side by side with her on a bigger stage was a truly special experience.”
In reflecting on the proud career milestone, another moment that added to her proud sense of achievement was the presence of her parents, who were in attendance at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for the Game. Seeing their daughter grace NHL ice for such an historic event was a point of pride for the Brown family. For Kristina, the chance to share this achievement with her parents will remain the most favorite of all the memories attained at the second CWHL All-Star Game,
“What I will remember most about the event is having my parents there. I could see in their eyes how proud they were of me and how happy they were to see me having an amazing time. So being able to share that experience with my mother and father was pretty amazing. Every game I always look up in the crowd to find my parents during the national anthem, and on the day of the all star game, looking up at my parents, I knew it was a day I would never forget.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from CWHL.ca