Three months after hoisting the Isobel Cup on home ice the champion Boston Pride have begun building their roster for a repeat.
Part of that process unfolded on June 29 in the 2021 NWHL Draft when the club added two forwards to their depth chart including Finley Frechette from Cornell University and Abby Nearis from Brown University. Both players are from the Boston area with Frechette hailing from Weston and Nearis from Beverly, Massachusetts.
“With the departure of some key players from last season’s team, we are considering how best to replace their skillsets,” said Pride President Colleen Coyne. “We think our two picks, Finley Frechette and Abby Nearis, are two worthy candidates.”
The Pride’s two picks came in the fourth and fifth rounds of the league’s annual selection process after their first three picks were moved in a pair of transactions. Their first and second-round picks went to the Toronto Six as part of last year’s pre-draft deal to move up to the number one slot where they chose forward Sammy Davis, and their third-round pick was traded to the Buffalo Beauts in exchange for a second-round choice they’ll make in 2022.
“Finley’s overall athleticism and the size and strength of Abby provide us with some attractive options,” said Coyne.
In three seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic, Frechette played in 101 of Cornell’s 102 games scoring seven goals and five assists for 12 points. She’s a two-sport athlete having been a member of the varsity lacrosse team alongside her sister Gillis.
“Finley was a great leader for us at Cornell,” said Big Read head coach Doug Derraugh. “Finley is a fierce competitor who plays a very smart game at both ends of the ice.”
Nearis captained Brown as a junior and appeared in 83 games where she recorded 14 points and 90 minutes in penalties. She was also a three-time ECAC All-Academic Team honoree.
“I was super surprised and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity,” Nearis told The Salem News. “If it all pans out and I’m able to play and make the team, that’d be awesome. All the messages and support I’ve gotten since the draft have been very cool.”
The Pride are no strangers to selecting players who make immediate impacts with the team. Take the 2020 NWHL Draft as an example where all six players they chose were part of the 2021 championship squad including Davis, fellow forwards Tereza Vanisova, Taylor Wenczkowski, and Meghara McManus, plus defenders Taylor Turnquist and Paige Capistran.
“We have a great contingent of returning players,” Coyne said. “Paul (Mara) has made it a point to build a roster made up of highly skilled players who are also high-quality individuals with strong character. We feel great about where we are right now. Rounding out our roster won’t be easy and that is a good problem to have.”
Davis embraced the pressure of being the first overall pick and quoted Billie Jean King when speaking on the live NWHL Draft Show to offer the 2021 class some advice for how to approach their first professional season.
“I love the saying pressure is a privilege, I think it’s a great quote,” Davis said. “Enjoy every moment and just really have fun. We’re so lucky to get to continue playing hockey and having this platform to use our voice for so much.”
Since 2015 the Pride have selected 29 players in the NWHL Draft including 16 forwards, nine defenders, and four goaltenders.
BOSTON PRIDE 2021 NWHL DRAFT RESULTS:
Pick, Player, Position, Team, Collegiate Program / Hometown
Click on a player’s name to see their collegiate program profile
Links to pick announcements will open on Twitter
21. Finley Frechette (F) Boston Pride (Cornell University / Weston, MA)
27. Abby Nearis (F) Boston Pride (Brown University / Beverly, MA)
The inaugural NWHL International Draft will be held on July 25 with the Pride holding the third overall selection.