EMILY FLUKE A PERFECT FIT WITH BOSTON PRIDE
By Dan Rice
Things have worked out fairly well for Emily Fluke this NWHL season. After spending the last two seasons commuting from her hometown to play for the Connecticut Whale, Fluke signed with the Boston Pride on Oct. 9, 2019. From the first moment she stepped on the ice wearing black and gold, Fluke has fit seamlessly in with the NWHL’s lone undefeated team.
Fluke has already blown past her season-high in points (15), goals (5), and assists (10). Despite missing the Pride’s first game, she has already been a part of more wins (17) than she accumulated in two seasons with the Whale (5). As a fixture on the best "third line" in hockey, Fluke has played a pivotal role in the Pride's unprecedented success this season.
As the All-Star break looms, Fluke is tied for fourth on the Pride in scoring with 21 points and is one of just nine skaters in the NWHL who has eclipsed the 20-point milestone. She also has six multi-point games this year, which is double her total from her two seasons in Connecticut. Clearly, Fluke has enjoyed both individual and team success since joining the Pride.
“It’s a great feeling,” the 27-year-old Fluke said “The team has been playing really good hockey and it’s fun coming to practice, it’s always fun coming to the rink."
Another benefit of joining the Pride is that Fluke has been able to play in front of friends and family more often. And that means the world to her.
“It’s been huge," Fluke said. "I loved my time with the Whale. But playing for a team in Boston … I grew up in Massachusetts, I’m a die-hard Boston Bruins fan, a Patriots fan. Being able to play in my hometown is really special - my parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends have been able to come to almost every game.
“It’s really special when you show up to play a game and you have all of them there supporting you," she continued. "It just makes the game that much more enjoyable. It means everything to me to be able to play for my hometown team.”
Another silver lining for Fluke is that several of the tough-to-play-against players that were opponents the prior two seasons — think Jillian Dempsey, Kaleigh Fratkin, Lexi Bender — are now teammates. “It’s definitely good to be on this side of the ice now,” Fluke said.
“They are really good players who battle hard. "I’m not playing against them in games anymore, but it’s been fun to practice against them all the time. I feel like I’m competing against them all the time now, especially the defenders, and I feel like it’s elevating my compete level," she said. "They elevate the competition in practice because they go so hard. It has been fun playing alongside them in games for sure, and also against them in practices.”
Fluke and her linemates have been tearing it up so far this season. Together, they represent Boston's third line, which has proven to be more productive than most of the NWHL's top lines. So how did Fluke, Mary Parker and Alyssa Wohlfeiler develop their chemistry so quickly after Head Coach Paul Mara put them together?
“I think our line has three players that see the game really well and see the ice really well," Fluke said. "We’re able to make little plays that sometimes take a while to develop. It has happened really quick, but I think we’re all smart players who like to make that one extra play or pass and we all support the puck really well. We’ve worked on playing really fast and it’s a huge credit to Wolf and to Mary. They have great shots, they play really fast, so it’s been easy for me to jump on that line."
Winning usually is fun and it’s safe to say Fluke, who was an All-Star last season, is having a lot of fun at home this season. “I think we’re a very talented team, and when we play our brand of hockey and when we compete, we don’t think there’s a team that can keep up with us," she said. "It’s all on us; it’s on our compete level, and our focus, and our intensity. Every team is going to get better in every game and every practice and we just have to keep doing the same thing.”
That is the message that Mara constantly gives to his team and Fluke has taken it to heart. “I really like his style of coaching," she said. "He expects the best from us every single game and he doesn’t sugarcoat it. He wants us to get better and better, and it has been great playing for him this season.”
After a few down seasons, the Pride are title contenders again thanks in part to Fluke's contributions. On Sunday, the Pride made NWHL history by winning their 17th consecutive game with Fluke scoring a goal and picking up two assists in the 7-2 win over Buffalo.
Fluke and the Pride are back at home this Sunday to host Fluke's former team, the Connecticut Whale, at 4:30 p.m. ET. Tickets for the game are available at pride.nwhl.zone/tickets and all Pride home and road games can be seen streaming live and free on the NWHL on Twitch.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay