The Boston Pride’s roster continues to look the fullest of the five NWHL teams as free agent signings continue. Word released on the morning of Aug. 13, 2019 that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) alum Marisa Raspa had signed a contract to join “The Pack”. Raspa is a the 13th player to sign with Boston for the 2019-20 season, and the team’s eighth forward.
“My life has always revolved around hockey, so being able to continue to play after college in the NWHL is a dream come true,” said Raspa in the press release on her signing. “I am thrilled to be a part of the Boston Pride organization and excited to play in such an amazing city. I’m going to continue to work on all aspects of my game, and help my teammates in every way possible.”
Raspa played four seasons of NCAA hockey for RPI. She played for the Engineers from 2014-15 through the 2017-18 season. The more defensive aspects of her game shined through in each of those campaigns. Raspa is a battler, and should be able to force loose pucks along the boards and in corners for Boston scorers to capitalize.
Blocked Shots and Face-Offs
The 5-foot-3 Raspa is a native of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. A right-handed shot, she suited up in 131 career NCAA games for RPI. She compiled 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 total points within that time. Modest numbers offensively, but Raspa brought more to the table than just goals.
Both her sophomore and senior seasons with the Engineers saw her reach double-digits in blocked shots. Raspa set a career high of 21 blocks in 34 games during the 2017-18 campaign. She was also called upon take more face-offs in her final go-round as well. After seasons of 17, 25 and 10 draws, Raspa took 180 face-offs in her senior season alone.
“I really like Marisa’s tenacity and how she does the little things that makes her linemates better,” said Pride head coach Paul Mara about his newest player.
Her scoring numbers are more like bookends for her career at RPI. Raspa’s career high of eight points was reached in both her freshman and senior seasons. As a first-year Engineer, she set her career high in goals with five and tacked on three assists in 34 games. After seasons of one and six points after that, Raspa again chipped in another eight points as a senior – this time reversing her totals to three goals and five helpers.
Raspa Brings Depth to Pride’s Front
Raspa has not been signed by the Pride to score – that will not be her job. That being said, every good forward line in hockey needs a wingnut that holds it together. Mara has the option of putting Raspa onto a line with two scorers, and allowing her to do the dirty work in corners and in front of the net.
For example, it could be worth a look to try her on a unit with topnotch scorers Jillian Dempsey and McKenna Brand. Raspa is the kind of player who can create havoc around the net while players like Dempsey and Brand rifle shots until the cows come home. If Mara utilizes Raspa to help create turnovers, his scorers could very well have a field day.
Another option might be to go with a Boston checking-line. Raspa, Christina Putigna, and Mary Parker are known shot-blockers and are staunch forecheckers. Mara could have the makings of a shutdown line with those three alone. Putting Raspa, Putigna and Parker out against another team’s top scoring line would be an ideal way to negate an opposing offense.
The main takeaway from this signing is that it gives Mara options for either attack or defense. Raspa is almost like a rook in a chess match – she can keep the pressure off of the more “valuable” pieces like Dempsey and Brand, but she can also be utilized to deliver blows on the score sheet as well, even if indirectly.
Here is how the Pride’s roster currently looks as of Aug. 13:
Defense: Kaleigh Fratkin, Jenna Rheault, Lexi Bender, Mallory Souliotis, Lauren Kelly.
Forward: Tori Sullivan, Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, Mary Parker, Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Marisa Raspa.
Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.