Meet the New Members of the Pack: Becca Gilmore and Allie Thunstrom
Entering the 2022-23 season, the Pride will have a solid core of veterans that will guide a fresh crop of new teammates. Becca Gilmore and Allie Thunstrom both know the Boston area well, yet the two of them have had vastly different paths in hockey prior to joining the Pride.
Thunstrom is a familiar name to Boston Pride and PHF fans. The 34 year-old veteran has been on the Minnesota Whitecaps since their berth in 2018. Her high scoring style of play has become synonymous with speed; easy to believe when you remember that Thunstrom was at one point an Olympic caliber speed skater. To name a few of her accomplishments in that time, Thunstrom was a part of the 2019 Isobel Cup Championship team, won the 2020 NWHL MVP award, and set the single-season goal record with 24. Despite all the fantastic memories and roots laid down in Minnesota, Thunstrom says her decision to switch teams came down to opportunity.
“Going to college at BC, Boston’s always kind of felt like a second home to me. So, when we started having the conversation about the possibility [of me coming to Boston], I didn’t want to look back years from now and regret not giving it a shot. There has always a piece of me that wanted to have another adventure too.”
On the other hand, Gilmore may be a rookie to professional hockey, but she has been a consistent playmaker at all levels. Before arriving at Harvard University, she won two World Junior Championship gold medals with Team USA, which earned her Top 3 Player honors in 2016. Gilmore accumulated 125 points in just 122 career collegiate games, finishing with a +25 plus/minus rating. With prior championship experience, Gilmore says she embraces the challenge of being part of a group with a very large target on their backs.
“I think that’s the best team to be a part of. It’s hard to win one, even harder to win two, and they did that. I think that’s a really fun environment to play in when you know that every time you’re playing a team, they’re gunning for you and they’re going to give you their best game.”
It’s no secret that the Pride have gotten big contributions over the years from Harvard University products. Pride Captain Jillian Dempsey has established herself as a PHF legend throughout her 7 seasons, as she has become the league’s all-time leading scorer. Teammate Mary Parker has also been a valuable asset to the team for the past 5 seasons. Dempsey has remained a big name on Harvard campus, and Gilmore as a Crimson herself has followed Dempsey’s accomplishments these past few years. Additionally, Gilmore and Parker were teammates during their time at Nobles School in Dedham, MA.
“I always learned from [Parker] from being a 13-year-old being able to watch her skate and sometimes be on the same ice. Those are two players that always have been people I’ve known and have been able to watch, and whether I knew it or not, to learn from at the time.”
Gilmore has been able to begin training with some of the local returning Pride players.
“I’ve been able to step onto the ice and I’ve felt nothing but welcomed into the team,” said Gilmore. “All around just a really welcoming culture and that made it easy to know that’s where I wanted to play.”
As for Thunstrom, who will make the move to Boston shortly, the new adventure of coming back to Boston signals the start of another chapter in what has been a highly adventurous career. In recent years she has overcome a torn MCL, a bout with COVID, and heart surgery due to an arrhythmia. She hopes that her time in Boston will one where she experiences great team success on and off the ice.
“Obviously Boston has won the last two Isobel Cups, and I’d love for the two years that I’m there to add two more to that streak and really be a part of the growth of the PHF. I’ve had a very fortunate career to this point, but we want to have success and add a couple more banners to Logan Airport.”
Thunstrom and Jillian Dempsey were the PHF’s representatives at this year’s ECHL All-Star Game in Jacksonville. The two of them competed both in the fastest skater competition and in the All-Star game itself, where Thunstrom scored a goal.
“After I did make the decision, we chatted, and she said, ‘I didn’t think that was ever something that was even a possibility.’ I’ve played with and against Demps for many years and she’s both a tremendous person and player.”
Thunstrom noted the way Dempsey spoke about the team was exciting and enlightening. It helped her feel comfortable making the move to Boston, one that she would not regret. Both Thunstrom and Gilmore want their legacies to be defined by the growth of the game in Boston and all over the country.
“I didn’t think in four years I would be able to come play for the Boston Pride and where the league is now. I think that’s really exciting,” says Gilmore. “A lot of the veterans on the team and around the league have done that work.”
“At the end of the day people playing professional women’s hockey no matter what league is an amazing thing,” said Thunstrom. “Seeing the success the [PHF] has had over the years and the exposure, that’s what it’s all about.”
Watch Gilmore and Thunstrom join the Pack on the ice when they begin the season this fall at Warrior Ice Arena.