Boston College alumna caps off her North American return with top honors
Yesterday the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) announced Blake Bolden as the Defender of the Year as voted on by the Women’s Hockey Media Association.
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Around this time last season, Blake Bolden was returning from Switzerland where she competed in the Swiss Women’s League Finals for HC Lugano. It was her first season away from the Boston area in seven years. After completing her time at Boston College, Bolden went on win the Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades and the inaugural Isobel Cup the very next season with the Boston Pride.
Bolden returned to the Pride for the 2016-17 season before taking her talents to Europe last year. Bolden posted 16 goals and 11 assists for Lugano last season. Being a go-to offensively was a different role for the blue liner, but one she embraced.
Prior to playing for HC Lugano, Bolden was a steady role player, the supporting cast member to Olympians like Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight, and Gigi Marvin.
Her role would shift some upon returning to the NWHL, albeit with a different team. However, Bolden felt more confident than years past, ”
I think I’m just in a better head space,” she said in an interview ahead of the 2019 Isobel Cup Final in Minnesota.
This year, Bolden was eager to bring her speed and strength to the Beauts, and the All-Star Game, of course. Bolden reprised her role as NWHL Hardest Shot Champion upon returning to the league (Riveters defender Kelsey Koelzer earned the title at the 2017 NWHL All-Star Weekend). Her slap shot clocked in a 80 MPH during the Nashville All-Star Weekend in February.
Although the season did not conclude with Bolden lifting the Isobel Cup, the season was an overall success for Bolden and the Beauts franchise. “I am so happy to be named the NWHL Defender of the Year,” said Bolden in a league release.
“It was so great to be part of the Beauts family this year and to work with my D partner Pfalzy (Emily Pfalzer). As the season went on, we grew so much as a team. I would not have earned this honor without all of my teammates helping to raise my game.”
Bolden finished the season with a NWHL career-high 13 points and led all defenders with 12 assists, good for second-overall alongside Boston Pride forward Haley Skarupa.