Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, February 15, 2019

Who will benefit most from the recent WoHo wave of success?—Jenna McParland interview—must-click women's hockey links



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Lots has happened in the WoHo world since we last checked in! The Boston University Terriers won their first Beanpot Tournament since 1981 (when they were a club team), the NWHL hosted its fourth All-Star Weekend in Nashville, and two of three Rivalry Series games are in the books — links to all of these events and more below.

Before I send you off, I want to discuss what I think is an important shift happening in women’s hockey. We can’t deny that Kendall Coyne Schofield competing in the fastest skater competition at the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend wasn’t a game changer. However, let’s focus for a minute on why and how Kendall’s big moment came.

Out with an injury, Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche offered his spot to Kendall. Now, I don’t know the entire origin story there, so I won’t speculate, but what we do know is — with the exception, thankfully, of a fan video of Brianna Decker — no official footage of the other three women asked to demo the Skill Challenges was released.

The NHL is now benefitting from a series of fortunate events that they easily could have and should have planned for. The wave of women’s hockey is reaching its apex, just before it crashes onto the shores of more mainstream coverage. I am excited for all those who will get to ride to shore, but I hope the NHL doesn’t force women’s hockey to the outside as they catch the inside of the wave worry-free.

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Remember: first, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! erica@ericalayala.com.

Check out this entry Why We Need the Black Girl Hockey Club by founder Renee Hess. If you haven’t already, make sure you are subscribed to the BGHC blog and follow them on social media.

This article about the Toronto Furies caught some heat from the WoHo community on social media. However, there is some insight about marketing women’s hockey I found particularly interesting, especially in context of Carly’s interview with Alyn Abrea from yesterday’s Golf Newsletter.

Great feature on Boston Pride forward and captain Jillian Dempsey by my podcast co-host Mike Murphy.

Princeton has won an Ivy League Championship title with a convincing 8-2 win over Brown last week. Is a ECAC title also possible?

Here is a little bit about my journey to becoming the first person of color on an NWHL broadcast. I originally pitched a piece about an NWHL All-Star, but I’m glad I was asked to go in a different direction.

CWHL commissioner and Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford joined the Her Mark Podcast.

Really enjoyed this look into the NWHL All-Star Weekend by Michael Wade. I especially appreciate the stats analysis from the second half of the game.

Boston University won their first Beanpot as a Division I program and it’s kind of a big deal, writes Nicole Haase.

Shelly Picard looks to return to the Red, White, and Blue come April, writes Mike Murphy.

Tweet of the Week

My favorite Valentine’s Day pun of the year!

Five at The IX: Markham Thunder forward Jenna McParland

During my time in Canada last month, I caught up with Markham forward and University of Minnesota-Duluth alumna Jenna McParland. We discussed Markham’s 2018 run, her faux sorority founded by her and Megan Bozek, and what it will take for the Thunder to make a run this season.

Erica L. Ayala: I just spoke to Megan [Bozek] and she told me the backstory behind the picture that you have on Twitter is was a play on sororities, I guess? So, what do you think would be the official name of the unofficial sorority?

Jenna McParland: I don't know. When [Laura] Stacy came, we kind of just would bug her about being in a sorority. Apparently at Dartmouth (where Laura Stacey went to school), you had to be in one. I don't know if I would give it a name but we call it The Sisters right. Me and Megan were always wanted to be a sister because we never, well I never did. So that's why we would bug Stacy about being a sister so I think we were more jealous that she was in a sorority and we weren't. So I call it The Sisters, yeah.

ELA: Well, the sisters were able to win Clarkson Cup last season. It seems that last year’s team was really special in a lot of ways. The season didn't start off maybe the way you wanted, but you were able to see it all the way through. What do you think it was about last year's team in particular that allowed you to really get through some of the tough times and win that championship?

JM: Well for me I missed you know a lot of the season. I got injured in China and then like you said we weren't doing very well. And then after Christmas we brought Megan on which was a huge help in the back end. And then I think it was all the girls kind of accepting you know to bring back [Canadian Olympians] Laura Stacey, Laura Fortino, Jocelyne Larocque; Everyone was just so welcoming to bring them back and everyone came together and was accepting that they could help us win a Clarkson Cup. So, everyone was really good about that and all of a sudden we just turned the tables and we went for it.

ELA: Again the team has struggled a little bit this year. From your perspective, what are some of the things that you think this team is able to do when you're on top of your game? What are some things that the team has to focus on?

JM: Yeah I just think you know we we need to you know play like we did at this time last year, tighten up our defense a little bit, and just you know kind of keep it simple to get pucks to net. We have we have a very good team we have very good goaltending. Our defense of course, amazing. And our forwards, we can score. I just I think we're thinking a little too much. And I think we just need to simplify our game.

ELA: The WCHA is celebrating 20 years on the women's side. It's a conference that, save for Clarkson, has really really dominated. I would love to hear some of your fondest memories of playing with that UMD Bulldogs team.

JM:  A lot of you know people will argue that the WCHA is the toughest league to play in. It was it was a battle you know every night. You had to show up every game and play against the top people. Look at the American National Team and the Canadian National Team, a lot of those players did come from the WCHA.

Not a lot of games, when I look back, were huge blowouts. You know maybe you have those one or two games but you know all those games you were really close. The WCHA speaks for itself right. They've won a lot of championships. So yeah I think it's it's a it's a very tough league and it was a league that I enjoyed being a part of. I always wanted to play in the WCHA and that's what I did. And it's a lot closer to home* for me as well. I wanted to move closer to home so it ended up working out for me.

*McParland is from Schreiber, ON, Canada, just north of Lake Superior.

ELA: Finally I understand there's a little bit of a bake sale going on today. Tell us a little bit about your baked goods so I know what to pick.

JP: I'm actually you know, not a not so much a baker (laughs). I actually worked really late last night so on my way here, I stopped at the grocery store and I pick something up. It is my way of me contributing.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster