Brittany Ott continues New England women’s hockey legacy with Boston Pride

As the free agent freezy continues for the incipient NWHL, a key element involves which player shall stand between the pipes for the inaugural puck drop. While the Buffalo Beauts won the Brianne McLaughlin sweepstakes, the Boston Pride may have found a dark horse in accomplished backstop Brittany Ott.

Ott’s first brush with women’s hockey in New England involved four stellar seasons with the Maine Black Bears in Hockey East conference play. Not only would she set a new program record for most saves in a regular season game (accomplished in 2010), she would break her own record in 2013 with a sterling 72 save performance against Boston College in a 2-1 overtime loss.

Although her final season at Maine did not translate in a lot of wins, that was attributed to a rebuilding year for the program. Had Ott not been between the pipes for the Black Bears, the potential for a disastrous season was highly possible, testament to her superlative skills.

Selected in the fifth round, 25th overall, in the 2013 CWHL Draft, Ott would prove to be one of the steals of the draft. No other goalie drafted past the fifth round in draft history enjoyed as many wins, let alone play in the Clarkson Cup championship game.

With Genevieve Lacasse placed on reserves that season, due to her commitments with the Canadian national team at the Winter Games in Sochi, Ott proved to be a blessing in disguise, allowing the club to maintain its great standard of superlative goaltending. Taking to the ice in her powder blue goalie pads, it was not only endearing, but a fitting reminder of what made her an elite goaltender in Hockey East play.

Heading into the final month of the 2013-14 CWHL season, Lacasse returned to the Blades but Ott has established herself as one of the league’s finest goaltenders. Her 10 wins ranked second in league play to rival Catherine Herron of the Montreal Stars, while her .921 save percentage and 475 saves were tops in the league.

In the aftermath of the golden outcome at the Sochi Winter Games, Lacasse earned some playing time with the Blades, but Ott had proven that she belonged among the elites of the game. Such effort was reflected in the fact that Ott became only the fourth rookie goalie to get the start in the Clarkson Cup championship game. The decision was a show of gratitude, testament to her dedication and perseverance during the season.

Despite the Furies by a narrow 1-0 margin in overtime, Ott provided a valiant performance with three solid periods of shutout hockey, stopping 23 shots. The following season, Ott contributed a 10-6-0 mark, establishing herself as the finest backup goaltender in CWHL play. Complemented by a Blades’ Clarkson Cup victory, it represented redemption.

Such solid numbers are what the Pride is hoping that Ott can provide for the inaugural season. With the aim of winning the first-ever Isobel Cup, it would only solidify Ott’s standing as one of the finest American-born goaltenders in hockey today. It would also make her the first goaltender to have won both the Clarkson and Isobel Cups.

There will certainly be some familiar faces surrounding Ott in this quest for history. Joining her on the Pride include several former Blades teammates that were part of the run for the 2015 Clarkson Cup. Players such as Jillian Dempsey, Alyssa Gagliardi and Jordan Smelker (the first player from Alaska to win the Clarkson) are joined by three other Blades that have represented historic signings.

From Blake Bolden becoming the first African-American player to sign with the NWHL, to Kaleigh Fratkin becoming the first Canadian-born player to join the league, there is another exciting acquisition. Jessica Koizumi, the first player to register 50 points with the Blades (she also scored the first power play goal in Blades history), has become the first signee to have played in the former Western Women’s Hockey League. Such familiarity should enable the Pride to have the strongest on-ice chemistry of all NWHL clubs while Ott’s presence between the pipes maintains the high standard of goaltending that she has established during her stellar hockey career in New England.

Upon the Pride’s first faceoff, Ott should retain her powder blue pads from Maine. Taking into account how goaltenders are some of the game’s most unique characters, identified by the creative artwork on their masks, or the style of their equipment, Ott’s powder blues make her instantly identifiable, an element that should establish her as a fan favorite in Boston and throughout the NWHL.

Brittany Ott shines in CWHL debut for Boston Blades

After a stellar four-year career with the University of Maine Black Bears, Brittany Ott is graduating to women’s pro hockey. Having rewritten many Black Bears goaltending records, Ott will be essential for the Boston Blades ambitions of repeating as Clarkson Cup champions.

With the absence of backstops Genevieve Lacasse and Molly Schaus to their respective national centralization camps (in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games), the Blades were faced with a significant gap between the pipes. The selection of Ott in the 2013 CWHL Draft may prove to be just the remedy they require.

Ott had her opportunity to start for the Blades in the second game of the 2013-14 Canadian Women’s Hockey League season. A Sunday afternoon tilt on November 3 would signify the first game of her Blades career. Competing against opposing goalie Jamie Miller of the Brampton Thunder at Boss Ice Arena, it would not take long for the Blades to provide Ott with a lead.

At the 2:48 mark of the first frame, Jill Cardella scored to give the black and gold an early lead. Only 13 seconds later, Brampton’s first round pick Jess Jones would become the answer to a trivia question as she scored the first goal on Ott in CWHL play.

After close to 11 minutes of scoreless play, Jessica Koizumi would regain the lead for Boston. With 20 seconds left, rookie Rachel Llanes would score with assists going to Blake Bolden and Ashley Cottrell. Going into intermission, the Blades enjoyed a 3-1 lead as Ott only faced six shots.

The second stanza would find Ott tested for the first time in her CWHL career. With penalties to Koizumi and Maggie Taverna within 31 seconds of each other, Brampton enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. Showing great poise in the crease, Ott nullified the advantage as Brampton went scoreless.

While Brampton outshot Boston by a 9-8 count in the second, it was Boston that would continue to place the biscuit in the basket. Goals by rookie Casey Pickett and first round pick Jillian Dempsey showed that a bright future is ahead for these two promising stars.

Although Lindsay Vine would manage to score on Ott in the final frame, the Blades cruised to a 7-2 victory. With Boston having peppered Miller with 43 shots, Ott only had to face 21 shots from the beleaguered Brampton squad. Despite the Blades having lost over a dozen players due to centralization or retirement, Ott and fellow rookie Alissa Fromkin have the goaltending situation in good hands.