Northeastern has been the area’s most dominant women’s hockey program for the past few years. So when the first PWHL Draft took place Monday, it was no surprise that one of their players would be the Boston team’s first pick.
Two spots after Taylor Heise was chosen No. 1 overall by Minnesota, Boston selected Alina Mueller, the Huskies’ all-time leading scorer, with the third pick in the inaugural draft held in Toronto.
“I’ve had the best times of my life (in Boston),” said Mueller in a press conference shortly after her selection. “To come back as a professional athlete is unbelievable.”
Mueller finished her Northeastern career with 254 points on 98 goals and 156 assists. The Swiss native was a five-time Patty Kazmaier Award Top 10 finalist and three-time Hockey East Player of the Year. After her NCAA season ended, she signed with the Premier Hockey Federation’s Boston Pride, but the league was acquired over the summer. Going into the PWHL draft, she was open to whatever team she went to, but inside had a preference.
“I started my American dream there,” the Swiss international said of Boston. “To bring women’s pro hockey back there, it was a dream scenario.”
The selection of Mueller sets up a potent offense. Boston made three free-agent signings in the first weeks of the league’s existence, with one being four-time Olympian Hilary Knight. With 101 World Championship points in her international career, she is someone the sharp-shooting Mueller is excited to line up with. She will also be reunited with former Husky goalie Aerin Frankel, another of Boston’s initial free agents.
“In my opinion, she is the best goalie in the world,” said Mueller.
Boston continued their development into an elite playmaking squad with their second round selection. Sophie Jaques, the player who edged Mueller for the 2023 Kazmaier, was the draft’s tenth pick. The Ohio State defender was the first Black player to ever win the honor, and was the best offensive blueliner in the NCAA last year — helping the Buckeyes to the national championship game while scoring 24 goals and 24 assists. She joins free-agent signing Megan Keller, another offensively-minded player, on Boston’s blue line.
With an eye on making Team Canada for the 2026 Winter Olympics, Jaques is excited to see how advancing directly from college hockey to the PWHL will help her game.
“I am grateful to be coming out of college into a sustainable pro league,” Jaques said.
Another Kazmaier Award winner, Jamie-Lee Rattray, was Boston’s third round selection. A forward who won the 2014 NCAA title with Clarkson, she was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning team at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Known for her speed and a plethora of international and pro experience, she brings a tenaciousness that will appeal to Boston fans.
“I try my best to be a little offensive, but consistent,” said Rattray. “I try to be a pest out there.”
Given the controversial acquisition of the PHF by the PWHL this summer, many wondered how the PHF’s former players would be treated by the new league in the draft. The PWHL maintains much of the leadership and key player representatives of the former Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, an organization founded by US and Canadian National Team players to counter the PHF.
It did take until the fourth round for a PHF player to be selected. Dominika Laskova, a 2022 graduate of Merrimack College and a defender for the 2023 PHF champion Toronto Six, was picked 19th by Montreal.
That seemed to open the gates for PHF players. With its fourth-round pick, Boston chose Loren Gabel, the league’s 2023 MVP when she played with the Boston Pride. Despite being a native Canadian, Gabel did not hide where she wanted to land.
“I obviously wanted to go to Boston,” said Gabel. “I talked to the GM (Danielle Marmer) and I talked with (head coach) Courtney Kessel at Hockey Canada camp last week. We’re obviously going to have fun there, because the fans in Boston are great.”
In the fifth round, Boston selected two-time Olympic forward Hannah Brandt, followed by former Syracuse defender Jessica DiGirolamo in round six. Boston went young with several of its later picks, with University of Vermont product Theresa Schafzahl (39th), Minnesota defendseman Emily Brown (46th) and Wisconsin forward Sophie Shirley (63rd) chosen, all recent college grads. Longtime PHF forward Taylor Girard was their ninth pick. The team obtained goalie depth with Swedish national goalie Emma Söderberg in round 10, with forwards Shiann Darkangelo and Tatum Skaggs and defensemen Emma Buckles (formerly of Harvard) and Jess Healey rounding out their draft.
Former Boston Pride players were snapped up by other teams. Standout goaltender Corinne Schroeder was chosen by New York with the 33rd pick. In a surprising move, Montreal selected longtime Pride captain and Winthrop native Jillian Dempsey with the 66th pick.
Mueller wasn’t the only Husky chosen Monday, as three more Huntington Hounds will don PWHL jerseys this coming season: forward Maureen Murphy (18th to Montreal); forward Chloé Aurard (New York, 21st); and defenseman Maude Poulin-Labelle (Montreal, 55th). As for other Boston schools, Boston College goalie Abbey Levy heads to New York with the 64th pick, while Harvard forward Kristin Della Rovere was taken by Ottawa with the 56th selection.
Two other Massachusetts natives are headed north of the border, with defenseman Kali Flanagan of Burlington picked by Toronto (35th overall), and forward Caitrin Lonergan from Roslindale off to Ottawa (80th).
Kat Cornetta can be reached at email@example.com.