With each signing that the Boston Pride make for the upcoming NWHL season, the more and more they look like the same squad of recent years. This is a very good thing for fans of “The Pack”, as they can be guaranteed a competitive team right from the get-go, and an early favorite as a 2019-20 Isobel Cup contender.
Word was released on the morning of Jun. 6, 2019 that the Pride had made their eighth signing of the offseason in veteran forward Mary Parker. The Milton, Massachusetts native returns for her third full season with the team, and her fourth in total.
“I’m very excited to return to the NWHL and the Boston Pride for the upcoming season!” Parker said in the release about her signing. “I’m fortunate to be able to continue playing the game I love in my hometown.”
Parker initially joined the team at the tail end of the 2016-17 season, after finishing her senior season of NCAA hockey at Boston University. Debuting in a lone regular season game on Mar. 12, 2017 against the Metropolitan Riveters, Parker then played in both of the Pride’s postseason games over the seven days to follow. Unfortunately, she and the Pride would lose 3-2 in the Isobel Cup Final to the Buffalo Beauts.
There is every reason to think that Parker and her teammates are getting primed to make another Cup run, albeit with a different outcome in mind.
There’s Something About Mary
You have to love Parker’s size. At 5-foot-9, she has proven game in and game out that it is very difficult to force her off of the puck. Additionally, Parker is a workhorse with her skating and does not seem to tire in the attack.
Though not necessarily known for her offense in the NWHL, she is a reliable two-way player who has the size and strength to work along the boards and in front of the net. In Parker’s 26 regular season games she has compiled four goals and two assists for six points.
The being said, she chipped in three goals in 2018-19 alone, and in relatively short order. Scoring them on a mere 13 shots, Parker’s 23.1% shooting percentage was the finest number on the team and the second best in the entire NWHL.
Additionally, after scoring the first two against the Riveters on Feb. 18 followed by getting her third on Feb. 24 against the Connecticut Whale, Parker was named the VEDA NWHL Player of the Week.
“Every time I step on the ice, I strive to use my speed and create opportunities all over the ice,” Parker went on to say in the release. “I’m excited to leverage the skills and experience I have developed over the past few seasons to better the team. Being part of the NWHL and the Pride is also an important opportunity to help continue to build women’s hockey and be a role model for the younger generation.”
A Breakthrough Season Ahead for Parker?
While Parker has not generated big-time numbers during her NWHL career, that does not mean that doing so is out of the question. 2019-20 could very well be a breakthrough season for her offensively.
Collegiate history is very telling.
Parker played three straight NCAA seasons for the Harvard Crimson from 2012-13 through 2014-15, plus an abbreviated fourth season in 2015-16 when she suited up for five games. She followed that up with the lone season at BU.
In each of her four full seasons, she reached double digits in goals, assists and points every time. In her junior (2014-15) and senior (2016-17) campaigns she averaged better than a point per game. Parker set career highs of 24 goals and 45 points in only 36 games during her lone season with the Terriers.
The NWHL is going to look quite different this season based upon the perceived amount of players opting to sit out the season as part of the #ForTheGame movement. Players like Parker though will be brought to the forefront and relied upon more heavily to generate offense.
It is very conceivable that Parker will reach double digits in point scoring for the Pride this season, and could even do so in the goal column. Great news for Boston – “watch out” for everybody else!
“During the upcoming season,” Parker shared, “my goal is to be a strong contributor in all areas of the game and help bring the Isobel Cup back to Boston!”
Here is a look at how the Pride’s roster is currently shaping out as of Jun. 6:
Defense: Kaleigh Fratkin, Jenna Rheault, Lexi Bender, Mallory Souliotis.
Forward: Tori Sullivan, Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, Mary Parker.
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.