As legitimate as the Boston Pride’s offense looks already, their defense is shaping up to be just as enviable. The day after “The Pack” announced that they had signed their first goalie for the 2019-20 NWHL season, word was released that the team had added another stalwart defender to their mix in Briana Mastel. An Aug. 15 morning press released announced that the former Harvard Crimson captain had joined the club.
“Briana is a solid skater and poised player who sees the game very well,” said Pride GM Karilyn Pilch in the release. “Her work ethic is second to none, and she will consistently raise the bar for her team.”
Mastel played for Harvard from 2013-14 through the 2016-17 season. She served as captain of the Crimson during her senior year.
NCAA Career With the Crimson
A native of nearby Wallingford, Connecticut, Mastel played 128 career NCAA games for Harvard. Her final totals from the back end amounted to seven goals and 33 assists for 40 points. Mastel reached double digits in points in both her junior (12 points) and senior (15) seasons. On five occasions during her tenure with the Crimson, she recorded a pair of assists in a single game.
Tough and dependable in her own end, Mastel finished her career as a plus-27. Her career high came during her sophomore 2014-15 season, which was more focused in her own zone. Though she would have a scoring-low of five points (2G, 3A) despite playing a career high 34 games, she finished the season as a plus-16.
Mastel’s senior campaign for the Crimson was decisively her best. While serving as team captain, she generated her best totals for assists (13) and points (15), even though she played the least amount of games (29) of her NCAA career. This admirable performance saw Mastel be named to the All-Ivy League second team.
Sizing up the Pride’s Blue Line
Mastel is Boston’s sixth defender to join the 2019-20 roster, and their 15th player overall. Playing with the Pride enables her to be reunited with former Harvard teammates Mary Parker and Lexie Laing. A number of her other new Pride teammates were once Boston-area collegiate opponents of hers, whom she would already be quite familiar with.
“There are few things that compare to competing and working towards a common goal with a team,” said Mastel about her signing. “I am so excited for the opportunity to join the NWHL and play for the Pride in the incredible city of Boston.”
Mastel stands 5-foot-5 and is a left-handed shot. She is a very good passer, and the pucks she feeds to others are typically crisp and right on the stick.
Of the six blueliners the Pride have signed thus far, she, Mallory Souliotis, and Lauren Kelly are all of similar stature, while Kaleigh Fratkin, Lexi Bender and Jenna Rheault are more towards the taller end. None of the six can be considered small, and all are capable of playing a physical game.
In that respect, Pride head coach Paul Mara’s defense corps is a really nice blend. All six are defensively sound, but can chip in offensively too. It will be interesting to see which blueliners Mara selects to work his power play. One of them could be Mastel, who had two power play goals and two game-winners in her time with Harvard.
Here is how the Pride’s roster currently looks as of Aug. 15:
Goaltender: Victoria Hanson.
Defense: Kaleigh Fratkin, Jenna Rheault, Lexi Bender, Mallory Souliotis, Lauren Kelly, Briana Mastel.
Forward: Tori Sullivan, Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, Mary Parker, Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Marisa Raspa.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.