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Vermont’s Amanda Pelkey Makes History as First American to Sign NWHL Contract

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Renowned as the greatest women’s hockey player to hail from the state of Vermont, Amanda Pelkey can add a new accomplishment to her hockey resume. As the first player to sign a contract with the NWHL’s Boston Pride, the native of Montpelier also holds the distinction of becoming the first American-born player signed to an NWHL roster. Prior to the signing, only one other player, Austria’s Janine Weber, had agreed to a contract.

Pelkey brings great potential to a Pride team that recently selected Kendall Coyne and Shannon MacAulay (among others) in the inaugural NWHL Draft. Like Coyne and MacAulay, Pelkey provides the Pride with international hockey experience, making her a valued addition.

Having earned two gold medals with the United States national team at the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds (2009 and 2011), Pelkey logged an astounding 10 points during the 2011 edition of the event, tying Alexandra Carpenter and Hannah Brandt, who were selected first and second overall in the 2014 NWHL Draft, for the team lead in scoring. Along with attendance at numerous Hockey Festivals, Pelkey has spent seven years in the USA Hockey program.

Prior to committing with the Vermont Catamounts at the NCAA level, her hockey legacy in Vermont was pretty much established. Leading Stowe, Vermont’s North American Hockey Academy (NAHA) to the 2011 JWHL Cup, she was part of a remarkable team that enjoyed a sterling won-loss mark of 25-1-1.

During her final season with the Vermont Catamounts, Pelkey was also part of a silver medal effort for the United States at the 2014 Four Nations Cup. It was part of a memorable season that enabled her to become the program’s all-time leading scorer, while allowing the fans at Gutterson Fieldhouse one more season to treasure her superlative skills. Assembling a solid season with 31 points (on the strength of 17 assists), it followed a remarkable 2013-14 season where she set program records for most goals and points in one season, culminating with a nod to the New England Women’s Division I All-Stars.

Statistically, her two finest performances during her senior campaign occurred on October 11 and November 14, 2014. Against Rensselaer, the outcome of the Oct 11 contest resulted in a two-goal output, along with one assist. A November 14 tilt with the Syracuse Orange saw Pelkey contribute four points (one goal and three assists). Of note, it was part of a five-game scoring streak that saw her register 10 points.

An even more impressive streak took place from January 30 to February 27, 2015 as she scored five goals and four assists over an eight-game stretch. It was also during this stretch that she registered the 100th point of her NCAA career, an overtime winning tally against Maine. Following the final game of her streak, Pelkey would play in the final game of her Catamounts career, a postseason contest against the Boston University Terriers.

With ambitions of becoming the first resident from Vermont to play for the US National Women’s Team at the Winter Games, the chance to play for the Pride alongside the likes of Coyne in the next few years may prove to be the defining moment. Although Coyne has one year of NCAA eligibility remaining, the two have the potential to establish strong on-ice chemistry once they become teammates, possibly forming one of the league’s lethal scoring lines.

Possessing great speed and superlative stickhandling abilities, Pelkey may be one of the most underrated players in US hockey today. Destined to become an offensive catalyst this upcoming season, she is poised to be one of the Pride’s first superstars, one of the names likely discussed by fans when mentioning the league’s elite.

Photo credit: Brian Jenkins, Vermont Athletics

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