Jill Cardella finishes strong month as CWHL leading scorer for November

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 Blades head coach DIgit Muprhy on 2013 CWHL Draft Day (Image obtained from Boston CWHL facebook page)

With Blades head coach DIgit Muprhy on 2013 CWHL Draft Day (Image obtained from Boston CWHL facebook page)

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.

Danielle Boudreau’s first career CWHL goal holds even greater meaning

With Brampton visiting Boston for the first game of the 2013-14 CWHL season, it brought with it a sense of renewed optimism. As both teams have rebuilt through the draft after having lost several superstar members of their rosters for the golden dream of the Sochi Winter Games, fans at ISCC Simsbury Olympic rink were treated to a new generation of stars.

As the frozen perimeter brought with it fresh faces and established snipers at the NCAA level such as Brampton’s first-round pick Jess Jones and Boston’s Casey Pickett, who once played in an outdoor game at Fenway Park, fans were anticipating which player would log the first goal of the season.

Ironically, it would be a stay-at-home defender with great humility and a team-first approach that would log the magical first goal of the season. Danielle Boudreau, selected in the third round, 13th overall by Brampton would bury the puck past Alissa Fromkin. Ironically, the first goal scored in the 2012-13 season was also scored by a rookie, Sara Dagenais of the Montreal Stars.

One of the biggest goals of her life would be scored at the 9:28 mark of the first with assists going to long-time CWHL vet Jennifer Kirk and Kelly Hart. With experience as an alternate captain (with Clarkson), Boudreau has the potential to provide solid leadership for the rebuilding Brampton club. Complemented by shot blocking as the favorite aspect of her game, it may not be the last time this season fans hear her name.

Having carved a solid career at the NCAA level with the Clarkson Golden Knights, the Whitby native won Clarkson’s Ron Frazer Award (presented to a player who has elevated her game in key situations). Having logged 32 points in 150 career games, her last NCAA goal would come on December 3, 2011 versus Union, while her final points were a pair of assists on February 3, 2012 against Brown.

While Jill Cardella and Casey Pickett (also logging her first career CWHL goal in her debut) would score in the second stanza as Boston eventually prevailed, Boudreau’s goal was part of a valiant effort in which Brampton is ready to recapture the glory days of old. With parity being the theme of this new season, every team has an opportunity to surprise and compete for the most coveted prize in women’s hockey. Just like the first goal of the season, the last goal to win the Clarkson may be from the unlikeliest of stars.