Translating scoring to success, Kelli Stack has become a star for both Team USA and the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale.
Kelli Stack, the sinewy Connecticut Whale/Team USA forward, was built for one thing: scoring. On the collegiate level, on the international level, and now on the professional level, Stack’s name is at or near the top of nearly every scoring category. At Boston College, Stack broke the Hockey East female goal-scoring record, when she netted 65 goals. She also broke the BC points record with 209 points, earning Hockey East’s Player of the Year award three times in her collegiate career.
Her success at BC has translated directly to international play. Most recently, Stack was named Best Forward of the Four Nations Cup tournament held in Sweden from Nov.4-Nov. 8, where she averaged two points a game (2 G, 4 A in four games.) She has been an integral part of the last two US Olympic teams, who made the Gold Medal game in 2010 & 2014, only to come up short against Canada.
Stack has had a stellar professional career. Drafted into the CWHL in 2011 by the Boston Blades, she made an immediate impact, setting a franchise record for points in a season with 42. Stack also led the team in Power Play Goals that season with four. She sits tied for second in career scoring for the Blades with 53 points – just two shy of the lead with nearly 30 fewer games played.
In September, Stack announced that she was joining several of her Boston Blades teammates and heading to the NWHL. While former Blades players Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker stayed in Boston to play for the NWHL’s Pride, Stack travelled south to Stamford to join the Connecticut Whale. When asked about her decision to come to the NWHL, Stack responded, “I am looking forward to playing with and against such talented women from all over the world.”
Stack is second in the league in scoring with six points – one behind Knight and Decker. She is tied for first with four assists, and has been a leader for the team both on and off of the ice. After a very close game that ended in a 3-2 win against Buffalo on Nov. 15, Stack spoke with The Hockey Writers about the Four Nations Cup, her competition in the NWHL and a close win to remain the league’s only undefeated team.
-How was it taking the ice with the team again after the Four Nations Cup?
-It was good. I took some time off this week to catch up on some sleep and get re-adjusted to the time difference. It felt good to get together with the team today.
-Are you still reeling from the tournament experience and being named Best Forward?
-Honestly, it could have been any one of our forwards. Several girls scored key goals – it was a team effort. We don’t get to play together often, so it’s always great when we can come together, especially when we win.
-Beating Canada twice had to feel good…
-Yeah, y’know, we are just trying to set a precedent. Whether it’s a round robin tournament or something bigger, we just want to beat Canada. Always.
-You spoke of your teammates a moment ago. How does it feel facing them on the ice today? You were on the same team a week ago, and now you’re facing off against each other.
-They’re my team and I love them off of the ice. On the ice? I want to beat the crap out of them. It’s my puck. I want the puck.
— Kelli Stack (@kstack16) November 16, 2015
-It was a nail-biter today. When Buffalo tied it at 2-2, were you guys anxious, or did you know you had it in you?
-We knew we had it in us. We just needed to stay five-on-five. Both teams, y’know? We’d both rather win it five-on-five.
***Note: Conencticut took five consecutive minor penalties in the third
period, leading to two straight five-on-threes for Buffalo.***
-Yeah, and Buffalo got aggressive on those third period power plays. Your goalie came up big.
-[Jaimie] Leonoff is great. She played great and made a bunch of saves on flurries in front of the net to keep us in it.
-Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Congrats on 4-0
These same two teams face off again on Nov. 22 at Buffalo’s Harbor Center. The first two matchups have been intensely physical with a lot of back-and-forth action, with both games coming down to the wire before a winner was decided. Their third matchup should be more of the same – fantastic, beautiful hockey with equal parts cross-checking and toe drags. Familiarity indeed breeds contempt, and these two teams are settling into a quite the heated rivalry.
I am a proud lifelong Buffalo fan and an avid Jack Eichel defender. I have had a lot of fun covering the NWHL – it has been an exciting inaugural season and I look forward to sharing that excitement. For more of this season’s NWHL and Sabres coverage, check out http://www.bonushockey.com and http://www.716sportspodcast.com.