Boulier hopes to bring more than just offense to a loaded Pride blue line.

by Sam Fryman

Amanda Boulier has established herself as one of the Premier Hockey Federation’s most potent offensive players, a year removed from when she set a record for most points scored in a season by a defender with 27. In just her second PHF season 2019, she became an Isobel Cup champion with the Minnesota Whitecaps, notching a point in each of the two postseason games against the Riveters and the Beauts.

To begin 2021, Boulier left the Whitecaps for the Boston Pride, in a move that surprised many PHF fans. She is a New England native and is certainly glad to be back home, but more than that she is incredibly proud that the league has progressed to the point where players can move around a little more freely.

“I think it speaks to the growth of the league that we’re able to have players going to different teams with competing offers. Obviously, we have a ways to go but I think seeing that growth is great to see.”

From the moment Boston offered her a roster spot, Boulier says she really connected with the top-down support within the Pride organization. She now joins a defensive unit with the two-time reigning defender of the year Kaleigh Fratkin, veteran shot-blocker Lauren Kelly, two-way specialist Mallory Souliotis, and likely breakout star Jenna Rheault.

Boulier was unable to play with Minnesota during last year’s abbreviated bubble season until the final two playoff games against Connecticut and Boston. She admitted she is still “getting there” as far as game conditioning for the start of the PHF regular season in November, but noted the high level of competition for Boston’s preseason opponents.

“I only played two games last year so you definitely feel that when you get back into it in the fall. But these preseason games, being able to play against these really good college teams has been a great opportunity for us. So I think by the time we get into league play I’m hoping I’ll feel pretty confident.”

Boulier had a goal and an assist in the Pride’s most recent preseason game against the Harvard Crimson. She took time on Boston’s top power-play unit and should spend the season playing alongside Rheault, who had a great season going in last winter’s bubble before a broken wrist left her out of action until the finals. In speaking about her new defensive partner, Boulier says Rheault has been very supportive in keeping her focused on faster practices.

“She’s been awesome to play with, super supportive player. So far everyone’s been great teammates and it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

Rheault echoed those feelings about her newest teammate. “Her ability to see the ice is fun to watch and it definitely gives me a sense of security playing alongside her. I can’t say enough that I am happy she’s defending our blue line this year. I am excited to watch her this season and learn more from her as her defensive partner.”

One thing Boulier has no doubt learned so far is that the Pride value elite level conditioning during the week in order to create elite level play on the weekend. With Boulier admitting she’s been a little slow since coming back from the end of the bubble, she appreciates that her new coach doesn’t let any practice time go to waste. 

“Paul [Mara] runs a great practice, it’s very up-tempo and he doesn’t spend a lot of time with the board which I appreciate. It’s just ‘go, go, go’”.

Fans around the league already know how fast Boulier can skate and make plays from her time with the Whitecaps. Being teammates with Ali Thunstrum, Jonna Curtis and Sydney Baldwin is a recipe for becoming a lightning-fast juggernaut in the offensive zone. Before coming to Minnesota, Boulier even spent a little time playing forward for the Connecticut Whale.

Over the past three seasons, Boston has built their blue line to be incredibly sharp in all three zones and to rarely allow quick transition plays to form against them. Becoming more of a two-way defender and not relying so much on her offensive skill is what Boulier hopes to add to an already rock-solid top six.

“Boston has always been so sound defensively. I think the defense has always been sort of a weakness for me. I really like to play offense and sometimes I forget about defense.”

On opening weekend of the first Premier Hockey Federation season, the Pride will raise a championship banner and welcome back the Minnesota Whitecaps team they defeated in March to take the Isobel Cup. While Boulier certainly has some motivation to show up and show out against her former team, she knows it will most likely be two-track meet games that go down to the wire.

“It’ll definitely be a little weird being on the other end but I’m not excited to play defense against Ali Thunstrum, Jonna Curtis, and some of those fast forwards. I think it should be a good, fun game. They always are with Boston and Minnesota.”

Minnesota gave Boulier some amazing memories that will stay with her throughout her career. She got to play in two (nearly three) Isobel Cup finals with the team. That big-game experience is what Boulier noted as being the most helpful no matter which team’s jersey you wear down the road.

Boston is attempting to become the first team to win the Isobel Cup back to back once the season gets underway. Boulier’s goals for the season align with Boston’s mentality the last few years which are that stats don’t mean anything without a title.

“That was the expectation that was set into me five minutes into arriving to practice. Me personally, I probably only have a few years left so I’m really trying to enjoy both on and off the ice all the little moments.”

Amanda Boulier has been in a hockey world for 25 years of her life, so if these are in fact the last few at the professional level she can look back with a smile and a great sense of accomplishment. Fittingly, she will face a piece of her past to begin the next chapter of her future on November 6th.