The Boston Bruins were not the only professional hockey team opening training camp in town this weekend. The Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League held day one of its two-day tryout camp at Harvard University’s Bright Arena.
Twenty-three players were on the ice for Saturday’s session, which ran from 4 to 6 p.m. More are expected during Sunday’s practice, which runs from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The CWHL is a six-team league with additional teams in Montreal, Toronto, Brampton, Ontario, Burlington, Ontario and Calgary/Edmonton, Alberta. Boston is the lone American team.
The Blades will play almost their entire home schedule at Bright Arena. The opening night is October 22 against Toronto.
Among those trying out for the team include former United States Olympians and National Team members Erika Lawler (Fitchburg, Mass./Wisconsin), Kelli Stack (Boston College), Caitlin Cahow (Harvard), Kacey Bellamy (UNH), Jessica Vetter (Wisconsin), Molly Schaus (Boston College), Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass./Wisconsin), Angela Ruggiero (Harvard), and Karen Thatcher (Providence) as well as recent college graduates Bray Ketchum (Yale), Alyssa Wohlfeiler (Northeastern), Katelyn Kurth (Boston College), Jackee Snikeris (Yale), and Raylen Dziengelewski (UNH).
Lawler, Cahow, Ruggiero, and Thatcher played with the Blades in the league’s inaugural season last year, and are looking forward to the growth of the league in year two.
“The league was great last year and should only be better this year with an influx of recent college graduates,” Lawler, a 2011 graduate of Wisconsin, said. “There are so many high-level players in the United States and Canada, and it’s a great opportunity to continue to play at a high level.”
Cahow said the league offers the opportunity for women to continue playing at a high level while also providing the chance to give something back to the sport.
“All of us have received great opportunities because of hockey,” she said. “This allows us to keep playing while also helping the sport grow so more girls will play and have more opportunities.”
Stack, who starred at Boston College and for the US Olympic and National teams, said she is looking forward to playing with so many of the girls she has battled against over the past four years, noting Massachusetts and New England is now home to so many of the world’s best female hockey players.
“We are very fortunate to have a team so close to where so many of us live and work,” Stack said. “Even though Harvard is not my favorite place, it is a great arena and we are lucky to be able to have it as a home rink.”
Former UNH and US national team standout Erin (Whitten) Hamlen will serve as the team’s head coach for a second season. She will be assisted by former Dartmouth goalie Mariel Lacina and former Harvard University standout Lauren McAuliffe. Paul Hendrickson is the team’s general manager.