The Boston Pride have made a key signing that bolsters their chances of capturing the Isobel Cup. With the opening weekend of the 2019-20 NWHL season already in the books, word was released on the morning of Oct. 9, 2019 that veteran forward Emily Fluke has signed with the Pride. Fluke becomes the 19th player to be added to Boston’s roster.
“The coaching staff and I are delighted to have Emily join our team,” said Boston general manager Karilyn Pilch in the press release for the signing. “She has been a fan favorite and a standout player the last two seasons in the NWHL, and we are lucky to have a player with her experience become a member of the Pride. Emily is a tough player who will elevate the physicality of our team, and help us compete for the Isobel Cup.”
2019-20 will be Fluke’s third season in the league. The 27-year-old spent the previous two seasons playing for the Connecticut Whale. She served as Connecticut’s captain in 2018-19 and was named an NWHL All-Star.
Successes While With the Whale
Fluke’s time spent in the NWHL has shown that she a tremendous two-way forward. She reached 11 points in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. In 32 career regular season games for Connecticut, Fluke has totaled seven goals and 15 assists.
Her rookie season was a great one for her in particular. Fluke led the Whale in every major offensive category. Her seven assists and 11 points were top marks on the team, while her four goals tied her with longtime Whale Kelly Babstock for the team lead. Likewise, Fluke was one of only two players on the team that season to finish on the positive side for plus/minus.
While captaining the Whale in 2018-19, she again provided consistent scoring. Fluke’s eight assists led all Connecticut players, while her 11 points trailed only Kateřina Mrázová’s 12. She would go on to add a playoff goal in the Whale’s 5-2 postseason loss to the Metropolitan Riveters.
While Fluke is saying so long to the Whale, and will now play for her hometown team – she is a native of Bourne, Massachusetts – she is very much appreciative of the opportunities she had with Connecticut.
She said in the press release, “I also wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to the entire Connecticut Whale organization and to the fans of the Whale. I am incredibly grateful for everything over the past two seasons.”
Where Fluke Fits in With the Pride
Fluke proved a long time ago that she is a top-line forward. Though Boston already possesses a great deal of talent up front, there is every reason to think that head coach Paul Mara will utilize his newly acquired forward on the first unit. Playing in a situation where she will not be required to bear the majority of the offensive load alone could mean seeing Fluke generate her best season yet.
After all, her scoring prowess goes back to her time as a star NCAA player for Middlebury College. Fluke hit double digits for points in each of her four seasons for the Panthers. In 109 career games, she put forth 54 goals and 61 assists for 115 points. Fluke only received eight penalty minutes in her entire NCAA career.
In her senior season at Middlebury, she led the NESCAC conference with 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in a mere 28 games. Such a performance saw Fluke be honored as a CCM First-Team All-American by the American Hockey Coaches Association, the New England Hockey Writers Association’s Division II-III Women’s Player of the Year and the NESCAC Player of the Year.
Fluke is enamored over the idea of playing closer to home and being part of a successful organization like the Boston Pride.
“I’m ecstatic to be joining the Boston Pride,” she said. “I grew up in Massachusetts and have been a huge Boston sports fan my entire life, so getting to play for one of our city’s professional teams is an incredible feeling. I am really looking forward to playing more games in front of my family and friends, and I know they are really excited to be able to attend more games this year.
Here is how the Pride’s roster currently looks as of Oct. 9:
Goaltender: Victoria Hanson, Lovisa Selander.
Defense: Kaleigh Fratkin, Jenna Rheault, Lexi Bender, Mallory Souliotis, Lauren Kelly, Briana Mastel, Whitney Renn (defender-forward).
Forward: Tori Sullivan, Christina Putigna, Lexie Laing, Mary Parker, Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Marisa Raspa, Carlee Toews, Emily Fluke.
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.