Over the past three NWHL seasons, Hanna Beattie has been a part of the Connecticut Whale and in that time the 24-year has played in 50 games for the franchise (including two postseason games). Even though she wasn’t putting up points at the start of her pro career Beattie was able to stay in the lineup with hard work and flexibility to play multiple positions. She’s played multiple games at both defense and as a center, giving her coaches a valuable asset when other players have to miss games because of injury or other commitments.
“Growing up I played defense for a boys team and center for a girls team until about u14 and then transitioned over to just defense when I was only playing girls hockey,” Beattie recalled after a recent game in her home state of New Jersey. “I’m used to playing center but it was far away in my past. I’m just trying to help out where I can for this team. If we need a center I’ll play center.”
For Beattie, who currently lives in Stamford, getting to play hockey in New Jersey again is always a special moment. Not only because she gets to see so many friends and family, get a good night’s sleep (and a great homemade breakfast!), and give Prucha (named after former New York Ranger Petr Prucha) her 13-year-old corgi, lots and lots of cuddles.
It’s also special because it shows the growth of youth hockey in New Jersey. Right before we spoke to Beattie she just finished playing a game that featured four players from the state. Rebecca Morse and Kendall Cornine from the Metropolitan Riveters both grew up in the Garden State, as did Beattie’s teammate Alexa Aramburu. Kayla Meneghin also plays for the Whale but wasn’t in uniform that weekend.
“Yeah it is pretty special,” she replied when asked about seeing so many familiar faces during an NWHL game. “We all played together at some point. Kendall Cornine, I’ve known her since I was ten-years-old, so we go way back. Kayla and Lex, we all played on a team together too. And I played against them in college a few times too. So it’s special to come back here and have all of us in an NWHL game together.”
This season has been Beattie’s best as a pro. She’s played a lot on defense, often partnered with captain Shannon Doyle, and after 40 career games without a goal, she finally netted her first in the NWHL on Dec. 28. Apparently it was such a good feeling that the Whitehouse Station native did it again the very next day, and again the following weekend in New Jersey.
“It was definitely a relief!” replied Beattie with a smile. “I actually didn’t score my whole senior year in college, so I’ve been snakebitten for a while. That takes a toll on your confidence. But I’ve been getting a lot more ice-time lately and with that my confidence is building. I’ve been trying to join the rush and that’s where all three of my goals have happened.”
Being teammates for three years this isn’t the first time Beattie and Doyle have been partnered together, but for Beattie, that familiarity has allowed her to settle in this season and play her game. “It helps a lot. I know what she’s going to do and I think we balance each other well,” she explained. “We’re both pretty offensive-minded players but if I see her joining the rush I know to stay back and vice versa. I think we work well together out there.”
“Hanna has been a fabulous teammate since day one and is someone who always works hard in practice, helps her teammates, and always brings positive energy to our room,” said Doyle when asked about her teammate of three years. “It has been great seeing her scoring this season because it has brought to the forefront her consistent play for everyone to see.”
“Often she brings something that can’t be tracked on a stat sheet, she makes the smart play each shift,” added Doyle. “And that confidence is infectious to all of us around her.”
Fans in Connecticut will have one more chance to see Beattie and the Whale this season. Their final home game will be on Feb. 22 against the Boston Pride as the first game in an NWHL-AHL doubleheader at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Following the NWHL game, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers will host the Hershey Bears.
“I’m very excited. I think it’ll be awesome to be playing on such a big stage and I think we’re doing a good job promoting it, introducing the AHL fans to the NWHL,’ Beattie said. “We’re playing Boston, so we have to step up our game. I think it’ll be great.”
As the NWHL season winds down, if the standings hold, the Whale will have the toughest road to the Isobel Cup. They are also the only team of the five in the league that has yet to win an Isobel Cup. Despite having only a handful fo wins Connecticut has been in most games and often a play or two has determined who won and who lost. The Whale have added some new players recently and Beattie is hoping it will give them the edge they need to make a memorable run in March.
“When we can score first it helps to build our confidence. Two of our new players, Janine (Weber) and Allie (LaCombe), are offensive-minded and they have great shots,” Beattie said, “and are great additions to our team. We need some goal scorers and I think they help us out in that department. Hopefully, we can play with the lead, instead of keeping it close and trying to tie it at the end of games.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.