The Boston Pride reached agreements with three of their restricted free agents on Tuesday, as they signed defender, Lexi Bender and forwards Michaela Levine and Kathryn Tomaselli for the 2017-2018 National Women’s Hockey League season.
Bender was the top blueliner for the Pride, as she helped lead the Pride to a 16-1 record during the past season. Tomaselli and Levine while not having much impact for Boston during 2016-2017, with most the roster, representing the United States Women’s National Team, will be given a bigger role during the third season of the NWHL.
Bender said, “We have the most beautiful facility [Warrior Ice Arena] for our games and practices, and we have the best fans and a first-class franchise, so I could not wait to re-sign with the Pride. The team is going to look different next season, but I am confident we will have a strong group. I will miss [coach] Bobby Jay because he was so great to me, but I am excited to work with Thomas Poeck, who was a puck moving defenseman in the NHL. Since I play that style, I am sure there is a lot I can learn from him.”
Through 17 games in her rookie season, the Boston College defenseman put up two goals and four assists from the blueline. Along with Blake Bolden and Alyssa Gagliardi, as well as US National Team members, Gigi Marvin and Kacey Bellamy, the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NWHL Draft made up one of the top defensive corps in the league.
In 154 games, the most of any Eagles player over four seasons, Bender scored 19 goals and 76 assists, earning her All-Hockey East in each season.
The Environmental Geosciences and Economics, double major, from Snohomish, Washington played boys’ hockey from the age of five through 14 in the Seattle Junior Hockey Association.
Bender added, “We did not have a girls’ program when I was a kid. But when I went back last year during the Christmas break to help out, they had three girls’ teams. That was great to see.”
She also played four seasons at the legendary hockey school, Shattuck St. Mary’s in Fairbault, Minnesota. She helped the school win the national championship for the Tier I, in both Under-16 and the Under-19.
Tomaselli, was held scoreless during the eight games she played during the 2016-2017 NWHL season, but impressed the team during the NWHL Free Agent camp held earlier in May.
The Cape Coral, Florida native scored 31 goals and 19 assists, in 135 games for Union College, in Schenectady, New York, during her collegiate career. She served as the captain during her senior season.
The three-sport athlete, hockey, volleyball and softball, at Williston-Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts was named Most Valuable Player in the 2011-2012 season.
Levine, was kept of the stat sheet during the six games she appeared in with the Pride this past season. The Lititz, Pennsylvania native however did put up 30 goals and 25 assists in 96 games during her collegiate career with Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts.