LOWELL, Mass. — The season may not have ended the way they wanted but PWHL Boston is proud of what the league and franchise accomplished in its first season.

“Obviously, it’s tough when you lose, especially Game 5 at home,” Hilary Knight told reporters after Boston fell 3-0 to PWHL Minnesota in the Walter Cup Final. “Amazing fans, but we just came from the (locker) room and all we were doing was reflecting on how proud of our group we are. How we continue to persevere regardless of any odds ever thrown in our direction.”

PWHL Boston had its share of adversity in the regular season. Coming out of the international break, Boston was out of a playoffs sitting fifth in the standings with five games remaining. Boston won four of the five, with the only loss coming via the shootout against PWHL Ottawa and catupulted to the No. 3 seed.

“This year was a historic year,” Knight said. “It was tough. It was something that no player was ever used to. We built it and we’re extremely estatic about where it is right now year one and where our group is and how we continue to battle and fight for one another. I think, if anything, that reflection point is something we can celebrate.”

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Even though the PWHL season began in January and was 24 games plus the playoffs, the players and coaches participated in six-week trainging camp that included drills and scrimmages. The anticipation of the league lived up the hype and it isn’t going anywhere.

“Who could have ever imagined that we’re filling the Bell Centre or Scotiabank (Arena),” Boston head coach Courtney Kessel said. “We’re filling Tsongas. We’re playing in front of thirteen thousand plus in Minnesota and in Detroit. I think this league took off and took off on full throttle more than we could have ever imagined as coaches, as players.

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“… I think we’re all all thankful and we’re all grateful for this opportunity. I know that they effort that every single player in this league put forth because it was a grind, something no one’s used to. Just incredible for every single athlete involved in this group and just so proud of our group and how we battled back all year.”

The sport of hockey has always been a physical one, but the inaugural season had been more labor-intensive than any other competition the teams had been a part of.

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“I think our game has always been physical, but ramped up a little bit this year,” Jamie Lee Rattray said. “Now we know how to play and I think we both prepare differently in the summer. You had to adopt the game maybe a little different as the year went on. I think it was extra physical in the playoffs and I think you use it to your advantage as well. It was definitely a different look as a player for sure as the year went on. Now that we know kind of how it’s going to be I think it’s easier to prepare when the next season comes along.”

Knight echoed her teammates thoughts, but did question one part of the game that was called inconsistently throughout the season.

“I would like to see more consistency with what is body checking and what isn’t body checking moving forward. I know the league’s going to work on that,” Knight said. “We’re going to do our part to make sure we don’t put ourselves in vulnerable positions out on the ice surface.

“But, it’s definitely a different type of game. You have to see the ice differently. You have to be able to absorb hits, read coveraes and put yourself in the center of the ice a little bit more than on the outskirts on the boards. You don’t want to get banged up so much over the year. But, it’s going to be an emphasis point with everybody’s training this summer.”

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Boston general manager Danielle Marmer won’t have much time to reflect on the season. The 2024 PWHL Draft will take place on June 10. Boston will have the fourth selection in each of the seven rounds. The draft will feature 167 eligible players from all levels of hockey including the NCAA, national teams and other professional leagues from around the world.

Featured image via PWHL