First Playoff in Tampa Doesn’t Phase New Pride Players

by Sam Fryman

Tampa, FL --- The Boston Pride are a team known for playoff success. They have played in the Isobel Cup final three times, and have taken the Premier Hockey Federation’s ultimate in two of those three appearances. After their 2021 title, Boston did not remain complacent and brought in a few new players to fill gaps left in their roster.

Chief among these skilled leaders are Kayla Friesen and Evelina Raselli, and they are both prepared to deliver the Pride an unprecedented third Isobel Cup in a few days’ time in Florida. Playoff pressure is not unfamiliar to either player. Friesen was a two time national champion in the NCAA while Raselli has won five titles in Switzerland as well as an Olympic bronze medal.

Friesen comes to the Pride after a bubble season with the Connecticut Whale. When the PHF post season came to Boston, the momentum the Whale had simply vanished and they were crushed by the Minnesota Whitecaps. For Friesen, lessons were very much learned.

“It kind of tells you that anything can really happen in playoffs. In Lake Placid with Connecticut we did good, we were confident and then obviously once we got to Boston it went completely sideways.”

What Friesen noted more than anything is that players should expect the unexpected. A new season starts tomorrow for all six seeds and the Pride don’t wish to have the feeling of the last few weekends return to the forefront.

“These are the games we play hockey for,” said Raselli with confidence. “It’s the fun part of the season and we know that everything that comes tomorrow, we’re here to win that game.”

Both women have been shuffled around Boston’s forward lines. Depth is one of the biggest strengths the Pride carry into the post season as they’ve brought forwards to the roster late. Delaney Belinskas was signed out of Boston College and Tereza Vanišová was brought back after a season in the SDHL.

Raselli believes firmly that everyone is ready regardless of lines or how many minutes they may play. “Everyone is going to be the best possible player tomorrow. It doesn’t matter which line or which position.”

Friesen dealt with an injury throughout the core months of the season but she applauded the Pride’s resilience despite their last few results. “Obviously good teams like to win but I think when you lose that’s kind of where you come together and build even more as a team. We definitely don’t want to be feeling that again.”

The Pride were in a very similar position to begin their title push last year, and it was the Buffalo Beauts that forced them to focus and turn things around. Boston won consecutive games to make it out of the bubble and the rest was history. Raselli and her Pride teammates are ready to turn the corner again with their backs against the wall.

“Yeah we had a few problems scoring goals the last games for sure but I’m sure that tomorrow everyone’s going to show up and do the work they need to do.” Raselli also looking forward to proving herself in an elimination game as it’s not the format she normally played through in Europe.

As for the message that may be delivered tomorrow? Friesen thinks Buffalo should watch outright from the first puck drop. “They’re going to see a completely different team. I think they’re going to be on their toes right away and that’s exactly what they want.”

The Pride take on the Buffalo Beauts in the first round of the Isobel Cup playoffs and fans will be able to catch the action exclusively on ESPN plus.