Sydney Daniels is last piece of puzzle for Pride’s forward corps

Harvard forward Sydney Daniels (25) handles the puck against Minnesota forward Maryanne Menefee (14) during the second period of an NCAA women's Frozen Four championship college hockey game Sunday, March 22, 2015, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)
AP Photo/Hannah Foslien

The Boston Pride signed Sydney Daniels to a contract Tuesday for the upcoming NWHL season. Originally, she was selected fifth overall by the New York Riveters in 2016, making her the highest NWHL draft selection for a Harvard player. Daniels opted to stay in Boston for her rookie season to be close to family and friends.

“Being drafted by New York was such an honor,” Daniels reflected in the league press release. “I decided to sign with Boston because it has become a home to me in the last four years. It’s where my friends and family are and I cannot wait to play in front of them.”

The Massachusetts native had 59 goals and 28 assists during her career at Harvard. Now, Daniels is joining Crimson teammates Brianna Laing and Mary Parker in the pros, while Pride veteran Jillian Dempsey makes the fourth member of the Crimson in Boston this season.

Boston now has enough forwards for three complete lines.  Daniels is one of two rookie forwards, and only three additions to the offense overall.

Dempsey and Smelker are both returning for a third consecutive season.  Dempsey has 15 goals and 22 assists in 43 games for Boston. But with much of the Pride’s high-powered offense on the U.S. Olympic team, more opportunities to convert will open up for her this season. Look for the Pride to feed off her veteran presence. Smelker adds 12 goals and 17 assists to the Boston attack. Like Dempsey, she will stabilize the team with her experience, and likely increase her offensive numbers.

Although new to the Pride, Janine Weber is familiar with the core forwards. She won the 2015 Clarkson Cup with Dempsey and Smelker as a member of the Boston Blades. The three will be reunited in a quest to bring a second NWHL title to Beantown.

In a short season, existing team chemistry is a competitive advantage.  In addition to the reunion of Dempsey, Smelker and Weber, two new players bring familiarity to the Pride. Parker was one of three players to join the league just before the 2017 playoffs. Although not a true rookie, this will be her first complete season in the league. She netted 48 goals for Harvard in 104 games as an undergraduate, adding another 24 goals for Boston University in the 2016-17 season. She spent three years at Harvard with Daniels, a fact that should help the forwards build cohesiveness.

Similarly, Tomaselli and Levine rejoin the team after serving as practice players. The pair is familiar with Dempsey and Smelker. Each played in less than 10 games last season but reached at least 30 goals in college. The two will be role players for the upcoming season.

Boston has built a team in a position to continue the dominant offensive play expected from it. The Pride netted a league-high 71 goals in 17 games last season. The forward corps is certainly capable of reaching the 4.18 goals per game average.  It helps that there are pockets of former teammates throughout the roster.

Opponents only registered 29 goals in 17 games. Finding a blue line and a goalie pair that can match those numbers will be impressive. Can the Pride defense hold opponents to 1.71 goals per game as they did last season? With only two of six defenders and one of two goalies signed, we will have to wait and see.


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