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Winnipeg’s Kayla Friesen “Still on Cloud Nine” After Isobel Cup Championship

Photos courtesy of the Boston Pride, Mallory Souliotis and Jim Meagher

Winnipeg’s Kayla Friesen “Still on Cloud Nine” After Isobel Cup Championship

The Boston Pride are officially back-to-back Isobel Cup champions.

Icing one of the very best rosters across the newly minted Premier Hockey Federation (formerly the National Women’s Hockey League), the Pride made league history, marking the first time that a team has repeated as the playoff victor.

Coming from behind to defeat the Connecticut Whale, the Pride capped off a 4-2 victory with two third period goals in a span of 18 seconds at the AdventHealth Center in Tampa Bay, FL. on Monday night. The game was broadcast live on ESPN in the United States and on TSN in Canada.

Trailing 2-1 through 20 minutes of play, Boston saw goals from Evelina Raselli and Taylor Wenczkowski (the playoff MVP) at the 6:39 mark and then again at 6:57 of the final frame, turning the tides for the Pride’s second lead of the game. Despite giving up four more shots on goal than the 30 it put up on the Whale, goaltender Katie Burt and the Pride held on for the championship, with help from a Jenna Rheault empty-net marker, sealing the deal on a 4-2 victory.

Receiving the Isobel Cup from outgoing commissioner Tyler Tumminia was Boston captain Jillian Dempsey. The celebration that ensued thereafter was nothing short of spectacular. For Boston, it was the team’s third league title (2015-16, 2020-21, 2021-22) and second of two-straight championships.

Helping lead the charge for the Pride was offseason acquisition Kayla Friesen. The second-year PHF forward of Winnipeg, MB. joined Boston following one year with Connecticut – to whom she eventually squared off against in the final.

Selected second overall in the first round of the 2020 NWHL Draft, Friesen had a difficult start to her career, missing time due to injuries and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Officially announced as a member of Boston’s squad last summer, the 24-year-old came to Massachusetts with a goal and four penalty minutes in just three games for Connecticut last season. With a new club this year, Friesen put up three goals, seven points and 10 penalty minutes over 18 games with the Pride in 2021-22.

According to the flashy forward, playing on a team so deeply loaded with talent did not serve as a hindrance, despite the decline in numbers for many players. But rather, the offensive brilliance just set the tone for stronger on-ice performance from all, better practice habits and eventually proof that her team was, in fact, the very best in the league.

Having dealt with some adversity throughout the entire season, Friesen says it was a certain stretch of games leading up to the postseason that really got her club dialled in and ready to roll.

“I am still on cloud nine after winning that championship,” she told Game On. “To come into playoffs on a brutal stretch of five-straight overtime losses really fuelled us. It made us come together that much more just to prove that we really are the top team in this league. This championship is going to forever be one of my favourite days.”

And what better way for Friesen and the other women of the Pride to celebrate their championship than by taking the Isobel Cup – AKA Izzy – out for a swim in the outdoor hotel pool before travelling to Amalie Arena for an appearance at the Tampa Bay Lightning game?

Joining a team made up of 14 returnees from last season’s championship squad, Friesen also suited up alongside the league’s very first player to have earned three Isobel Cups (Dempsey). Despite some mid-season COVID struggles, the end result was that of glory for the former St. Mary’s Academy Prep star.

“COVID was tricky, as the Boston squad got hit hard with it around New Year’s,” Friesen said. “So that set us back a bit, having to miss out on games and practices while isolating from each other for that period of time. But oh was it ever worth it in the end, every bump in the road, every setback lead us right to what we wanted to be: champions.”

After three years at St. Cloud State University, Friesen transferred to Clarkson University for the fall of 2019. The 5-foot-5 centre quickly settled into an offensive role with the Golden Knights, producing 10 goals and 30 points in 28 contests for Clarkson, operating at over a point-per-game rate. Those numbers led the Winnipegger to becoming Connecticut’s second overall selection in 2020.

Although things didn’t initially work out with the Whale, Friesen has been able to bask in the glory and success in her newfound home of Boston. Playing women’s hockey professionally is something she is exceptionally passionate about. Finding ways to make that dream possible for fellow Canadian women is another huge part of her role with the Pride.

“I want young women and girls to know that they will have opportunities with that passion and love for hockey,” Friesen said. “That by the time they are done college there is going to be a league where they can continue to play the game they love, just as I am while making a living; we are continuing to pave the way for the future generations. It’s important that they know one day they won’t just be watching the NHL on television. One day they are going to be watching the females on T.V. consistently. They will be aspiring to be like them while watching their careers, and one day be in their shoes.”


Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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