Women In Fantasy Hockey: Just Pen This One!

Marc-Andre Fleury Penguins
(Marc-Andre Fleury sadly hurt a lot of fantasy owners late. Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)


Here we go again ladies and gentlemen on another fantasy hockey quest. The goal was to give a traveling account of women who play fantasy sports but particularly fantasy hockey naturally. Last time were were in the LA area. Now our search on this part of the adventure took us back to a person who was originally from Western Pennsylvania and a diehard Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Imagine their horror in watching the Penguins lose their first round battle with the Philadelphia Flyers but compared to the fantasy horror this lady experienced, I do not want to be in her league next year.

So everyone, meet Karen Rice, fantasy sports player since 2001 and someone who took some time off and then came back.  Here is her story and how she answered “our ten questions”.

1. What level of fantasy player best describes you?

I’ve played fantasy football off and on since I graduated from high school in 2001.  I usually did yahoo leagues with friends of mine who were in sport management (one of my majors in college) and guys who were in fraternities.  I won my league twice I think and the one time I did fantasy hockey I won my league purely by luck.Once I graduated from college I didn’t really play much but have gotten back into it the last couple years.  The last football season I played in three leagues concurrently and made the playoffs in all three leagues (one regular season title) but no championships.  I did two fantasy hockey leagues and made it to the playoffs in both leagues and one championship game (lost on the final day…thanks Fleury!)  I stacked heavy on the Penguins (I’m originally from Western PA so they’re my team) and it obviously paid off right at the end of the season when Crosby came back and I had him, Neal, Kunitz, Dupuis, Letang, and Flower.  Absolutely. Bananas.

2. What type of fantasy leagues do you typically enter?
I prefer Yahoo! Leagues due to their android phone app that allows you to make changes when you’re out and about and not near a computer in case you forget to switch out players daily.  My brother-in-law had us play in a CBS League this season and we could only set our lineup on Monday, and then it would be set for the rest of the week.  So, if a player was injured during a game and went on IR or was going to be out for the rest of the week, we couldn’t make any adjustments to our lineups (and consequently, 0 points for that player).  Yahoo would let us sub out players daily, drop players (24 hour wait to add player to lineup…fair enough) and make the necessary roster adjustments — more work to do, which means you have to keep up with the league daily, but its 5 minutes if you do it on your phone (the app was great for that) and if you forgot to change your lineup with CBS…you were screwed for that week.
3. What was the hardest thing you had to learn about fantasy hockey?
Draft strategy.  I like to live draft because I’m a bit of a control freak so finding a balance between who I wanted vs. who I needed (winger/forward vs. defense) and not just taking the most well recognized players left on the board.  I took Sidney Crosby with my first round pick even though he was on IR with the concussion/neck issues but knew that he would be back and knew that he would be a beast when he did.  Was it the best move?  Maybe not.  Were there “better” players out there? Yes. Was it choosing the name “Sidney Crosby”?  Probably.  Did it work out for me?  Yup.  That was my championship game team.
4. Were you more concerned with how the competition would adapt to you or you to the competition?
I think I was most concerned that teams would start off strong and then people would abandon them towards the middle/end of the season.  Its a commitment.  You have to know what you’re doing…fantasy hockey is difficult.  Our leagues were awesome…I went into the championship game as a 6 seed and faced off against the 1 seed (another female too!)  In my other league, I competed against my husband, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law quite frequently (my husband and his sister are Penguin fans, her husband is a Flyer fan…I’m still not sure how that works out).  It was civil war in our apartment when we would face off against one another in fantasy ANYTHING (football, hockey…you name it).  I have confidence in my skills so I knew that I would be fine with the levels of competition we had in our leagues.
5. If there was a low point in your fantasy hockey season, what was it and why?
Losing on the final day of the season in the championship game by 2 points because the Flyers beat the Penguins so bad (the brawl game in Pittsburgh).  That doubly hurt. I was actually winning at certain points of the day, obsessively checking the stats.  I had chances to win — if I wouldn’t have started ANY goalies like my opponent did we would have tied in two categories — save % and losses; and + – and assists were off by 1-2 points.  So even the slightest swing would have helped me. Giving up those goals with my guys on the ice hurt. It was SO close.  Plus the Penguins hadn’t beaten the Flyers at home yet since Consol opened and we were going to have home ice in the playoffs and we lost and there were so many problems with the team that it didn’t give me a good feeling for the upcoming playoff series against them.
6. What was the most satisfying point in your fantasy hockey
experience this year?
Getting to the championship game with two females in it.  Its pretty awesome how it worked out that way.  I had a good team all year long and got the 6 seed by chance (3-6 was separated by 5 or so points) but it let me beat the 3 and 2 seed (one game was 10-0).  It was nice to see what the Penguins could do as well…but my motto has always been that I’d much rather see team success rather than personal success.  If a player on my team has to do poorly in order for the Penguins to win, I’ll take it.  Team over Individual any day.
7. What was the most valuable lesson learned this year?
DO NOT POST ANYTHING ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER ABOUT YOUR FANTASY HOCKEY TEAM OR YOUR FAVORITE HOCKEY TEAM DURING THE GAME OR SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN.  Seriously, any time I posted anything (comment, status, anything) SOMETHING would happen to turn the game.  I posted a picture of the score for my fantasy championship game Sunday morning when I was leading going into that last day’s games…should have known I was going to lose.  I’ve become incredibly superstitious about that stuff now.
8. Is there something to the fact that a women’s intuition serves a
woman well in competitive situations?
I don’t think so.  I think analytically…I’m working towards my MBA and want to get my doctorate specializing in researching ambush marketing.   I look at stats, who’s playing with whom, what teams are the players playing against.  I picked up Dupuis because I thought that he’d probably be playing a lot with Crosby when I knew that Crosby was going to be close to coming back.  Kunitz was playing on the top line with Geno and Neal.  Those were two mid season acquisitions.  I had Steve Sullivan for a little bit when he was with Crosby.  You have to have a basic knowledge about players and teams to be successful with fantasy hockey…its not as well covered on ESPN as the NFL is, so not a lot of the names are as well known outside of your Malkins and Crosbys and the like.  (Yeah, I’m biased).
9. Do you see yourself joining any more fantasy leagues next year?
Absolutely.  I love competition.  I need revenge!  Haha.  Its a lot of fun, its exciting, it allows me to make fun of my husband for his sometimes questionable choices.  It gives us common ground to talk about stuff and blow off steam. I think it made our relationship more fun with the smack talk that we’d have between us and within our family.  I’d love to do Yahoo leagues if I had a choice but would be open to other leagues like ESPN.  Having an android phone app that I could use to update my team on the fly would be optimal.
10. Lastly, what would you say to a female interested in joining a
fantasy hockey league?

Don’t be afraid to try it out!  Its seriously a ton of fun.  If you don’t know a lot about hockey, let your team get drafted for you through auto-draft and see where it takes you.  I really think that it made me pay attention to what was going on with the league in general more and it gave me a deeper understanding of the game itself.  I found myself looking up different rules during games on Wikipedia because I found that I was curious about what an announcer was talking about.  It made me pay attention to other teams than the Penguins as well…which is probably for the best.


Who will we have next week?  Stay tuned to find out but I am sure their story will be quite the interesting one.  If you know a woman with some fantasy hockey acumen that you would like spotlighted, send us an email at stevens8204@gmail.com.  One never knows, they may just appear right on this column.