One of ice hockey’s most graceful and classiest individuals, Blake Bolden has proven to be one of the anchors for the Boston Pride’s blueline corps. Having also earned the privilege of donning the USA Hockey jersey in her storied career, the inaugural NWHL season was one where the hockey world caught up to Bolden, appreciating her greatness.
Such greatness was evident during the Isobel Cup playoffs as the Pride emerged with the league’s inaugural championship. The Isobel Cup was unique in the fact that it marked the first professional women’s ice hockey championship in North America that featured two American-based teams. In years past, other championship games consisted of an American team facing off against one from Canada, usually in the role of the visiting team. Having won a pair of titles in Toronto, it is a scenario highly familiar to Blake Bolden
While the Buffalo Beauts featured three Canadians on their roster, the first three from the hockey obsessed nation to skate for the Isobel Cup, there was no shortage of players on the Boston Pride ready to make their own mark. Among them was blueliner Blake Bolden, whose second period goal did more than just shift momentum in Boston’s favor.
After a scoreless first period, the Pride would manage to gain the first lead of the game as Blake Bolden scored on Beauts goaltender Brianne McLaughlin for the first goal in Isobel Cup finals history. Earning the assists on this historic goal was Brianna Decker, who would be honored as the Isobel Cup Playoffs MVP and Jordan Smelker, the first player from Alaska to register a point in NWHL regular season play. Later in the second, Gigi Marvin would add to the Pride’s lead, providing a slight tinge of irony as the first two Isobel Cup goals were scored by blueliners.
“Scoring the first goal in Isobel Cup history was an amazing feeling. At the time I wasn’t even thinking of it, I was just so excited that we were up on the board and taking the lead.”
For a player as accomplished as Bolden, such an epic goal only complemented another brush with history. With the Pride competing in the Women’s Winter Classic, the first professional women’s ice hockey game contested outdoors, Bolden would become the first American-born player to score a goal in the contest, as the Classic ended in a 1-1 draw against Les Canadiennes de Montreal.
Part of the first-ever Isobel Cup championship team, Bolden’s spot in NWHL history is assured. Beyond such a landmark championship, there are other accomplishments contributing towards an exceptional body of work.
Complementing such a remarkable feat is the fact that she is also the first African-American to win both the Isobel Cup and the Clarkson Cup. As a side note, she would win both titles in consecutive years. Also the first African-American player to compete in both the CWHL and the NWHL All-Star Game, her achievements make her a role model for young female minorities possibly interested in sport. Undoubtedly, Bolden is to hockey what Serena Williams is to tennis,
“I truly believe that if it were not me, it would have been someone else. I am just so happy and appreciative that I am around in this booming period in the development of women’s hockey. I can only hope that my achievements help give some girl the push she needs go after what she wants.”
Although Bowman is not as famous as her contemporaries in the NWHL, there is a compelling ethereal serenity to her, which affirms her status as not just a valued teammate but a prominent presence that helps her team stands taller than the rest. While the Isobel Cup symbolized another heroic feat in her vivid hockey odyssey, it is eminently appropriate that she gained the chance to share in this gripping moment with Pride teammates that also played alongside her with the Blades, Boston College Eagles and/or USA Hockey.
As convincingly glorious as it was to hold the historic Cup and lift it over her shoulders as high as possible, her impact is unmistakable as she may be among the catalysts to spark a new glorious dynasty in Boston sports, enhancing its status as one of the finest sports cities in America. With a new legion of fans quickly recognizing her greatness, it represents an upward progression into superstardom, a place most worthy of her entry.
“It was an incredible feeling to hold the Cup and raise it above my head. Celebrating with the team and sharing that moment will be one of the greatest memories I will ever have. Every single person that is involved with the NWHL has made history, every practice, every puck drop, every win or loss. I am so proud of the work and the dream that became a reality. It is really something I will look back and cherish for the rest of my life.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”