Last month, former Boston University defender Kaleigh Fratkin returned to Beantown, this time as a member of the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). This marks Fratkin’s second professional stint in her college hometown (Boston Blades, 2014-15 season) and her third NWHL team in as many years.
Just a few months ago, the Canadian defender was presumed retired and working in the Washington, D.C area. However, Fratkin set the record straight after the last Boston Pride home game, “No, god no I wasn’t retiring,” Fratkin told The Ice Garden site manager Hannah Bevis and me.
Instead, Fratkin felt the need to make some important professional decisions, ” … [W]ith the salary cuts last year [I] had to put my professional career [first],” said Fratkin. She added, “I needed to get on my feet … I landed a really nice gig in the D.C./Virginia area. And financially it was pretty cushy so I wasn’t going to turn that down.”
In the offseason, Fratkin moved to Washington, D.C to work with Elite Hockey Science, the hockey skills company founded by Ron Johnson and the training home to NHL players like Ryan Kessler, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and others. Fratkin assists with skill development sessions, traveling in the DMV-area and elsewhere for the company.
Her new job kept her on the ice and around hockey. However, the itch to play remained. Fratkin kept in contact with the all four NWHL teams, hoping to find a good fit. “I was talking to Buffalo at the beginning of the year … they said I didn’t have to come for practices, just hop in for games. With [my] workload and my job it really didn’t make sense.” She had conversations elsewhere as well, but it was ultimately Boston that won out.
With her location now set, Fratkin indicated that the NWHL founding four cycle is unlikely. While playing for the Buffalo Beauts was once in the works, 25 year old is ready to reestablish her Massachusetts roots. “I went to school here. So I have a good home base to come back to. Out of all the places, it was a no-brainer. I talked to Hayley [Moore] and talked to Coach Thomas [Poeck] and thought it was an easy move.” Fratkin has relocated to the Boston-area and will remain with Elite Hockey Science and work remotely.
Only two games in, Fratkin is still getting the feel for competition, but isn’t looking to push anything, “I don’t think I’m out of shape by any means. I just haven’t played a hockey game in nine months,” said the newest Pride defender.
However, if she’s going to ease back into a new location anywhere, she’s glad to be back in Boston. “I’m [laughs] going to take my time kind of getting back into it. I skated with BU the other day too … I’m here in Boston full time. Don’t really plan on going anywhere anytime soon. So, I might be here for a while.”
With the Pride vouching for second place halfway through the third season, I’m sure the Pride organization and their fans are happy to welcome the two-time All-Star home.
Like what you’re reading? Support my coverage of women in sports by clicking here.