When Danielle Larouco first signed on to be general manager of Boston Pride, she acknowledged that she likes to be busy. So even now, with her new team back on top of the women’s pro-hockey mountain, the Rockland High graduate’s work was not finished.
“I’m at The Book right now trying to sort through a week’s worth of everything,” Larouco said Thursday. “We’re going to the Bruins game tonight, so I’m handing out tickets to all the players and trying to figure out what the plan might be for that. But it’s all good.”
Larouco, who still lives in Rockland, manages both The Bog in Kingston and Rockland Ice Rink and owns the Bay State Hockey League, which is run out of Rockland, The Bog and Hobomock Arenas in Pembroke. Taking on the Pride concert last season was a big commitment on top of it all, but Larouco is happy with the way it all worked out.
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The Pride rallied to beat the top-seeded Connecticut Whale, 4-2, in Monday night’s championship game in the renamed Premier Hockey League in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Boston also won last year’s crown, though the 2020-2021 National Women’s Hockey League season was a bit of a mess. The league had to abandon its plan for a “sports bubble” in Lake Placid, New York, and eventually crowned its champion by holding a four-team weekend tournament at Prides’ home ice in the Warrior Ice Arena in Boston.
Pride was 5-4 last season; they finished 13-5-5 this time, beating Buffalo, 6-0, and Toronto, 5-1, in the playoffs last weekend to put up their title fight Monday night.
“That’s all you can hope for, right?” Larouco said about winning. “It’s the end goal. We had some ups and downs all year round, but the way the team played this weekend was the way we knew they could play. They came together at the right time. It was great to see them celebrate with their families because they were obviously not able to last year. They had a whole season this year, so it was good to get back to some kind of normality. “
Personally satisfactory for GM?
“It definitely makes all the hard work and all the long hours and stiffness worth it, that’s for sure,” Larouco said. “It’s a little surreal. Colleen (team president Colleen Coyne) and I laughed and said, ‘We have to go back and watch the game (again),’ because there were so many emotions going on (as it happened).”
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The Pride players – including veteran defender Kaleigh Fratkin, who coaches Weymouth High’s girls team – were once again promoted to the Isobel Cup. Larouco and Coyne, a member of the gold medal-winning 1998 U.S. Olympic squad, eventually got their turn, too.
“Yes, we did in the end,” Larouco said. “We kind of gave (the players) their time to do their thing. It’s weird to have trained and played (in Brown), and now in this role, what do you do or do not do (in the celebration)? But, yes, we all got to touch Izzy and raise it in front of the team.It was pretty cool.It’s a little heavier than I thought.
“But you know what? It floats because she spent a lot of time in the pool.”
Backup goalkeeper Victoria Hanson of Stoughton can confirm that. After winning the title late Monday night – the final was at. 9pm, start hosting ESPN2 – Pride did not return home until Wednesday. Before being celebrated for the Tampa Bay Lightning match Tuesday night, they lounged around the hotel to enjoy the title.
“Yes, she swam in the pool,” Hanson said of the trophy, named after the daughter of Lord Stanley, of Stanley Cup fame. “She got to float around on a donut floatie. She got some Florida sun just like the rest of us.”
The extra day of rest was well deserved. The Pride, which has three crowns in total, is the first team in the league’s seven-year history to win back-to-back. They could have already achieved a three-turf if the 2019-20 final had not been canceled due to the pandemic; Pride had 23-1 on the way into that match before the plug was pulled.
“Back-to-back is honestly fantastic,” said Milton striker Meghara McManus, who had 5 goals and was a team-best plus-7 in the regular season. “I guess it’s a dynasty now. It’s just amazing.”
“Being able to go through an entire season, it felt very different,” said striker Sammy Davis, who grew up in Pembroke and starred at Boston University. “We earned it last year, but it felt like we worked really hard for this one. Our team faced a lot of adversity. All the hard work paid off and you can go into the offseason and be happy. It’s clear. , we’re hungry for next year, but … (we realize) this weekend was really great. We all came. “
Pride endured an insane end to the regular season and lost their last five games, all in overtime.
“You had to take it up,” Larouco said with a laugh. “Water sick that it could happen at all. I’m sure we set some kind of record with it.”
“It was frustrating,” Davis said of the skid. “It just frustrated us all because we knew what we were capable of. It lit a fire beneath us. It motivated us. Everyone doubted us and figured us out.”
In the final, Pride was down 2-1 on their way into the third period against Connecticut, but their championship DNA must have kicked in. Evelina Raselli brought it up to the 6:39 mark and struck a shot in from a shot from Milton’s Mary. Parker. Just 18 seconds later, Taylor Wenczkowski scored another rebound, and Pride was running with Jenna Rheault’s empty net as an exclamation point.
“We’ve been there before, and Connecticut did not,” McManus said. “We just had that belief.”
The celebration did not end on the ice that night. Along with being hailed at Thursday’s Bruins match, the team expects to make a fair number of public appearances over the next few months.
“We hope we have another trip around Boston that is similar to last year,” Hanson said. “I think everyone is even more excited this year, because last year with COVID (restrictions) only a select few (players) could go to each event. But now with Boston fully open, we can really enjoy the championship as a team at every event, which will be special. “
Closer to home, Larouco would like to bring the Isobel Cup to The Book or the Rockland Ice Rink to show it off. As with the Stanley Cup, tradition dictates that each member of the organization can take the trophy for a day in the low season.
“I’ll definitely have to think about when and where, but yeah, I would love to be able to share that (with local hockey fans),” Larouco said. “We were not at home in Warrior at any point in March, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen our fans. I would definitely like to bring the (trophy) back to the South Shore and share it with all my leagues and players and families. “that has helped me get to where I am. It would be nice to share it with them and let them see it for themselves.”