From May 1-31, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2016-17 roster and their draft picks during the restricted free agency period, and beginning on June 1 any unsigned players left will be free to sign with any team.
The third season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Buffalo Beauts defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with up to 12 players unable to participate in the league this season due to their selection for Team USA’s 2018 Olympic team, this will be the most competitive season yet.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on New York and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston.
The Boston Pride‘s defense corps is possibly the strongest in the NWHL heading into the 2017-18 season. They also have an exciting young rookie in Brianna Laing who will be fun to see between the pipes. Now, “The Pack” also have their top goaltender back as well. With the re-signing of Brittany Ott, the back end of Boston’s team appears as impenetrable as an iron wall.
Success Everywhere Ott Has Played
Part of what makes Ott such a highly-valued goaltender is that her performances have been remarkable everywhere that she has played.
When the 27-year-old tended the net for the Maine Black Bears during her college career, she posted games of 69 and 72 saves. The 72-save performance against Boston College in 2013 is a Maine school record. In four years with the Black Bears, Ott never posted below a .903 save percentage in a season. Her finest numbers came during her sophomore season when she stopped 847 out of 920 shots for a .921 save percentage. Ott’s all time numbers with Maine were a 32-53-13 record, a .915 save percentage, and a 2.74 goals-against average.
Regarding her collegiate career, Ott shared via NWHL press release:
“Playing at Maine allowed me to elevate my game. I was always being pushed out of my comfort zones and being pushed to be a stronger and better teammate and goalie.”
Upon graduating from Maine, Ott moved onto the CWHL. There she would play two seasons with the Boston Blades, alongside many players who would become her teammates once the NWHL formed. In 2014, Ott’s rookie season with the Blades, she helped backstop the team to the Clarkson Cup Championship. While Ott and the Blades would fall short that first go-round, she would ensure that the following year they would skate away as champions of the CWHL. Ott and the Blades won the trophy in 2015.
Ott’s numbers across two seasons in the CWHL would consist of 16 wins and nine losses in 27 career games. She would have four shutouts for the Blades while putting forth seasons of .921 and .912 save percentages.
A Pride Cornerstone Since Day One
In the first year of the NWHL, Ott was the cornerstone that helped bring the Isobel Cup home to Boston. Her statistics alone were phenomenal. Posting a regular-season record of 12-2-0, she had an outstanding .926 save percentage. That is coupled with Ott recording the first shutout in NWHL history and putting forth a paltry 1.93 goals-against.
Come playoff time, Ott went 4-0 in the 2016 Isobel Cup playoffs. She would record a shutout and allow a mere eight goals during the four postseason contests.
Such a noteworthy performance in the league’s first season earned Ott the accolade of the Goaltender of the Year award. That came about through no stretch of the imagination. Ott was the only goaltender to reach double digits in the wins column for the 2015-16 NWHL season. Her 1.93 goals-against average was the lowest in the league, and she was the only netminder to pitch a shutout.
Season Two Came up Just Short
Ott’s individual performance during the league’s second season was arguably even better. Once again she was the only NWHL goalie to have win totals reaching double figures (10). Ott led the way with three shutouts while giving a repeat performance of a 1.93 goals-against average.
Unfortunately for Ott and the Pride, they would not be able to protect Lady Isobel. In the 2017 Final, Boston would be dethroned by the Buffalo Beauts. Ott would be attributed the loss in her statistics after allowing three goals on 12 shots. The Beauts got to the star netminder early and the Pride would falter. She would be pulled after nearly 30 minutes of playing and would be replaced by Lauren Slebodnick.
It was certainly a tough pill for Ott and “The Pack” to have swallowed at the time. However, part of what makes Ott a goaltender seemingly in a league of her own at times is the fact that she does not waver, even if there is adversity.
Suffice it to say that now that she has re-upped for a third season, Ott is hungrier than ever. She is intent on recapturing a trophy that most of the Boston Pride players feel is rightfully theirs. Some of these players (i.e., Ott, Jordan Smelker, Alyssa Gagliardi, Jill Dempsey, and Janine Weber) have a history of winning together since their days in the CWHL. There is rich history there indeed, and they have demonstrated that they are players who consistently raise the bar for one another.
— NWHL (@NWHL) August 28, 2017
Said Ott via the same press release:
“I’m very excited to get back out on the ice with the Pride and get started working toward the season. For me, the end goal remains the same: win a second Isobel Cup for Boston and to continue to grow the game as best as we can. There is nothing like playing in front of the fans we have in Boston.”
Boston’s Iron Wall
The Boston Pride have now secured their goaltender who is rarely beaten. They have a stingy, sizable defense composed of players who are regarded as being among the best in the women’s game. Throw a rookie goalie into the fold who will learn from Ott’s tutelage, and Boston may very well have the most difficult team to score against.
Here is the Pride roster as of Aug. 28:
Goalie: Brittany Ott, Brianna Laing
Defense: Lexi Bender, Meagan Mangene (defender-forward), Alyssa Gagliardi, Marissa Gedman, Paige Harrington, Kaliya Johnson.
Forward: Paige Savage, Sydney Daniels, Mary Parker, Emily Field, Jillian Dempsey, Michaela Levine, Jordan Smelker, Dana Trivigno, Janine Weber, Kathryn Tomaselli