Streaming The Champs: Catch The Boston Pride On ESPN+

( Photo Credit: Michelle Jay / NWHL )

By: Carter Hochman | Follow me on Twitter @Carterr33

It was a whirlwind of a season for all of the PHF (formerly the NWHL) last year, and that’s an understatement. Fortunately, however, it ended with the Boston Pride lifting the Isobel Cup for the second time in franchise history. What’s the offseason been like? How are the new signings fitting in? How are the players reacting to the new deal with ESPN+? I sat down (via Zoom) with Pride defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin to talk about it.

Let’s start with the offseason for the Pride. In contrast to last season, it’s already been a completely different process so far. “The offseason has been busy, but I feel like we’re just back in full force,” said Fratkin, “we’ve been practicing this whole month, playing a lot of exhibition games, so I feel like we’ve just jumped into things, definitely different than last year, we practiced a lot last year with next to no games.” It’s helped the Pride find their identity early and decipher what’s working for them, especially with seven new signings. Fratkin added, “we have some new pieces to the puzzle but relatively speaking we have a relatively similar roster to last season which is nice.” The Pride will return 14 of their starting roster from last season.

Included in their preseason exhibition game competition have been college teams like Harvard, Dartmouth, and Providence College. “It’s been good… the college teams we’ve been playing… these have been teams that have come to play us [they] all want to beat us… so there’s been a ton of tough competitive games,” Fratkin added.

When reflecting on how the Pride got to the Isobel Cup finals and ultimately ended up lifting the Cup, Fratkin simply said, “It was one for the books. The biggest thing was you didn’t really know what you were up against [with the bubble and scheduling], but we all knew what our ultimate goal was… it was one thing after another. I think the coolest thing about it all was we knew that if we got a chance to play, that’s all we wanted to do was to win.”

And win, they did. After beating the Minnesota Whitecaps 4-3 at Warrior Arena, the Pride got to lift the Isobel Cup. But that wasn’t the only exciting thing that happened for both the Pride and the PHF. The Isobel Cup semifinals and finals were broadcast live nationally on NBCSN in a massive step forward in the coverage of pro women’s hockey. It was a full broadcast team with replay, rink-side reporter, color commentary, and intermission reports. It was legit.

All of this has been building to the PHF’s latest announcement that they’ve signed a partnership with ESPN+ to stream all 60 regular-season games, playoffs, finals, and special events for the PHF. When I asked Fratkin about what this means for the league, she said, “It’s monumental. Thinking back to year one, league-wide, the games were streamed on YouTube to a one-camera angle [shot]… obviously, NBC Sports having the playoffs hosted on live television was monumental at that time, and now we’re here; where this is the next step.”

The Boston Pride’s 2021-2022 title-defending season opens November 6th, and it’s an Isobel Cup Finals rematch against the Minnesota Whitecaps. When I asked Fratkin if there will be any bad blood between the two teams, she said, without hesitation, “oh definitely.” This will be good.

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