Q & A with Connecticut’s Meghan Huertas

Meet Meghan Huertas, who joined the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale just after the calendar turned to 2017. It wasn’t easy for Huertas to jump right into the middle of a season without a training camp, but as she completes her second full month as a pro she is finding her way alongside her teammates as they prepare for the Isobel Cup playoffs.

At the end of 2016, Huertas was at home on Boynton Beach, Florida, and the NWHL was a possibility for the next season (more on that below). But as we all know in the hockey world, sometimes things change quickly. Now she’s living in the Northeast practicing two nights a week and playing hockey on weekends.

Everyone calls Huertas ‘Huey’, so when we caught up with an old college teammate who is now playing with her again on the Whale (after a deadline deal with the Boston Pride) and asked if she was excited to be teammates with Meghan again, Zoe Hickel said, “Who?”

“Oh, Huey,” she said smiling after realizing who we meant. “I haven’t gotten a chance to play with Meghan Huertas since we were at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and it’s fun to have her in the league now. I’m looking forward to playing alongside her again.”

After a recent game in New Jersey against the Riveters (Hickel’s Connecticut debut) The Hockey Writers caught up with Huertas to find out how this all came about and how much she has enjoyed being a part of the NWHL, among other topics.

The Hockey Writers: So how did this all come about? Were you out on the ocean and came back to your towel on the beach to a message that you were being recruited for the Whale?

Meghan Huertas: Something like that (smiles); actually I was in Tampa Bay on a boat when I got the email. I was (already) talking to (head coach) Heather Linstad and (GM/assistant coach) Lisa Giovanelli regarding next season. They randomly shot me an email over Christmas break and it said, ‘Any chance you can come up in a couple of days?’ It caught me off guard (laughs), but I was super excited so I really couldn’t turn down the opportunity. It was a pretty easy decision for me.

THW: You’re from Florida, went to college in Vermont, went to college in Minnesota; how’d you get into hockey and make your way around the country for love of the game?

MH: A little background on my family: no one plays hockey. My dad was born and raised in Cuba, I was born and raised in South Florida and when I was about four, my parents took me to a Florida Panthers game and I instantly fell in love with it. I was begging them that I wanted to play hockey. My parents started panicking like ‘What the heck?! What is this game?’ They took me to learn to skate and half the ice was figure skating, the other half was ice hockey. They put me on the figure skating side and my mom said I’d stand on the center ice red line staring at the hockey side and she said ever since then I would not let it go. They let me play and ever since then I’ve never stopped.

Meghan Huertas of the Connecticut Whale defends against Amanda Kessel of the New York Riveters. (Photo Credit: Troy Parla)

THW: Before that first practice with the Whale when was the last time you were on the ice?

MH: I was skating on my own…lessons and stuff, trying to get as much ice as I can down there (laughs). My last game though was in college, in 2015. I picked it up a lot faster than I thought I would, but it obviously is a hard adjustment at first.

THW: Not so hard, though, at least it seemed. First game, first goal, easy peasy, right?

MH: (Laughs) I was more like, ‘Thank God!’ It definitely took a lot of pressure off me, it is a hard transition. Even though I was on the ice all the time, to be in a game, playing a game with the top female players is a challenge. It was pretty cool to score my first goal (smiles) — I’m just happy to be here.

THW: It is the same players for the most part that you faced in college though, right?

MH: Honestly, it’s a much faster game. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first got here, but it’s a very fast game.

THW: What’s something fun or cool that you’ve done since joining the Whale?

MH: I do a lot of community work since I’ve been here, and I really enjoy doing it too. It’s pretty awesome to see, especially when little girls come out and support us. I remember being that little girl so I know much it means to them; it’s pretty cool that I can be a role model for future NWHL players. That’s pretty awesome.