Beginning June 1, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2017-18 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 fourth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Metropolitan Riveters defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with the addition of a fifth team – the Minnesota Whitecaps – this will be the most competitive season yet.
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.
The Boston Pride have just added some major firepower by signing Czech national team forward and Northeastern University standout Denisa Křížová. Word was released by the NWHL on Aug. 2, 2018 that Křížová had joined the team. She is the second player from Northeastern to have joined the Pride since summer free agent signings began on Jun. 1. What Boston fans and NWHL fans will immediately enjoy about Křížová is that she will score goals and in exponential amounts. The Pride have themselves a legitimate sniper on offense, and she is one that defenses will have a difficult time containing.
BREAKING: @TheBostonPride have signed Czech Republic National Team forward Denisa Krizova. She will make her North American professional debut in 2018-19.
— NWHL (@NWHL) August 2, 2018
Originally drafted by the Connecticut Whale as the 13th selection in the 2017 NWHL Draft, Křížová expressed the following sentiments as to why she signed with the Pride:
“Personally, I want to help the Pride win the Isobel Cup, and I still want to continue to play for the Czech National Team and go to the Olympics in four years. I’m very excited for the upcoming season and I hope we will do great as a team.”
We take a closer look at the Křížová signing and what impact it will have on the 2018-19 NWHL season for “The Pack”.
Křížová Was Bound to Be an NWHLer
We knew Křížová would be in the league someday – it was just a question of when. Between school and work commitments, not to mention the fact that home for some players is overseas, many players do not immediately make the jump to the NWHL after they have been drafted. THW had the opportunity to interview Křížová nearly a year ago about the magnitude of her being selected by a professional team. When the Whale had selected her the week prior, she had made history by becoming the first Czech-born player to be drafted into the NWHL. It was an honor that she did not take lightly.
“It really means a lot to me to have this opportunity to play with the best female hockey players from all over the world,” Křížová shared at the time. “I am happy to represent my country in this league and I hope to see more Czech players become a part of it in the future.”
Thus far the NWHL has two Czech-born players who will partake in the upcoming season. The Whale signed Katerina Mrázová back on Jul. 11 to have the first officially signed player from the country. Both players are members of the Czech national team.
As more and more Europeans opt to play NCAA hockey, it increases the likelihood that players from outside the USA and Canada will eventually play professionally in the league. For example, take for instance the University of Maine Black Bears 2017-18 women’s hockey team. There were three players from the Czech Republic and one player each from Russia, Sweden, Austria, and Denmark. That is just one school. The influx of Europeans into NCAA hockey is bound to transfer to the NWHL.
College Career With the Northeastern Huskies
Křížová reached double digits in goals in all four of her NCAA seasons with the Northeastern Huskies. While she is an impressive playmaker, she has no problem with being a finisher either. If the Pride are able to partner Křížová with a crafty passer – say a Dana Trivigno – they could readily foster a one-two punch on offense.
The 5-foot-6 sniper finished her college career having scored 62 goals and 107 assists for a total of 169 points in all of the 143 games. That is the sixth-highest total in Huskies history. Křížová’s finest season was easily her sophomore campaign (2015-16) when she generated 20 goals and 39 assists for 59 points in only 37 games. Not surprisingly, she finished the year as a whopping plus-53 for plus/minus. Such offense was fueled from the fact that she played on a forward line alongside Kendall Coyne Schofield (Minnesota Whitecaps, U.S. Olympic Team) and Hayley Scamurra (Buffalo Beauts, 2017 Isobel Cup champion, 2018 NWHL Rookie of the Year).
Křížová’s scoring is not just limited to a multitude of goals. Rather, the times that she capitalized are better emphasized by the timeliness of her tallies. Of Křížová’s 62 career goals, 13 held up to be decisive game-winners. Additionally, she scored 15 times on the power play and had five career shorthanded goals too.
The Pride need the kind of offense that has accompanied Křížová if they are going to recapture the Isobel Cup. It is certainly what the team’s latest acquisition is vying for.
“I’m very proud and thankful to join the NWHL,” Křížová also stated upon her signing. “I have been watching the league since the beginning in 2015 and it was my goal to be part of it one day. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and I can’t wait to wear the Boston Pride jersey.”
Autumn is fast approaching and the Boston Pride still have a lot more signings to make and announce before their roster is filled-out for the 2018-19 NWHL season. As of Aug. 2, here is how the Pride look thus far:
Goalie: Katie Burt.
Defense: Alyssa Gagliardi, Toni Ann Miano, Lauren Kelly.
Forward: Emily Field, Dana Trivigno, Denisa Křížová.
General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.