While it comes as no surprise to see the defending Clarkson Cup champion Boston Blades sit atop the CWHL standings, the biggest surprise may be that rookie Jill Cardella has emerged as the league’s leading scorer. Selected 20th overall by the Blades in the 2013 CWHL Draft, she is one of five Blades players among the CWHL’s top ten scorers, Cardella has rode a remarkable wave of momentum.
Her CWHL debut set the tone for a superlative month of November. With the Blades hosting the league’s first game of the season on November 2, Cardella logged a two-point night with one goal and one assist. The following day, she would improve on her performance with a three-point output on the strength of two assists.
Of note, the November 2-3 sweep of the Brampton Thunder saw the Blades outscore the team by a convincing 9-3 combined score. Cardella would keep the hot hand as she would score again in a November 9 victory over the Montreal Stars. Scoring in the third period, it would stand as the game winning tally (the first in her CWHL career) as Brittany Ott made 51 saves in an epic performance.
With a goal in each of her first three CWHL games, Cardella quickly emerged as the most productive rookie in the early part of the season. Complemented by the performance of other Blades rookies such as Casey Pickett and Jillian Dempsey, ranking second and third in league scoring, the possibility of a second consecutive Clarkson Cup is very real.
The hot November that Cardella, Pickett and Dempsey have logged signifies the first time that the top three scorers in the first month of a CWHL season were American-born, a breakthrough moment in Blades history. Whenever Cardella logs at least one point this season, the Blades have enjoyed a sterling 5-1-0 mark. In games where she has registered multiple points, the Blades are undefeated, sporting a 3-0-0 record.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Cardella’s game is her dedication. Having never missed a game during her storied NCAA career with the Boston University Terriers, she is an iron woman. In her senior season with the BU Terriers, she helped the team capture the Hockey East championship while playing against Minnesota in the NCAA Frozen Four title game. Also serving as one of the Terriers co-captains, she set career highs in assists and points.
Whether she can retain this momentum throughout the remainder of the season waits to be seen. In the meanwhile, her solid leadership and dedication provides her team with an opportunity to win, which definitely holds as much value if not more than logging points.