By Mark Staffieri
As one of the rookies on the Boston Blades, Anya Battaglino is working towards bringing the hockey fans of New England its first professional hockey women?۪s championship; the Clarkson Cup. Early in her young career, Battaglino already has a remarkable highlight that will be treasured for seasons to come.
On February 1, she had the opportunity to compete with the Blades in an NHL arena; Calgary?۪s Scotiabank Saddledome. As a way of commemorating the Calgary Flames sponsorship with Team Alberta and the CWHL, a match was held with free admission to the public. While the Blades prevailed by a 2-1 score, the experience provided Battaglino with a lifetime of memories.
Having grown up in the Boston area (Waltham, Massachusetts), rookie Anya Battaglino was very proud of the chance to represent her home town on such a monumental stage. ???I had so much pride representing my hometown out in a stadium that I have watched on TV time and time again. With the welcoming staff and the screaming fans (although they were all Alberta fans), I really felt like our league was receiving the respect it deserved!?
Familiar to hockey fans as a former competitor with the Boston University Terriers, Battaglino has been a fixture in New England women?۪s hockey for several seasons. She helped her high school reach the state tournament for four consecutive years. With the Terriers, the stay at home defender played two seasons.
The 21 year old made her CWHL debut on December 10, 2012. Ironically, it was also against Alberta. In 6 regular season games, she has yet to log a point, another milestone to accomplish for the promising rookie.
During intermission at the Saddledome contest, a conversation with team captain Caitlin Cahow brought great realization of the magnitude of this match, and the role it played in advancing women?۪s hockey. ???In between periods, my captain Caitlin Cahow asked me if this was my first NHL rink that I have played in. It just reminded me that I was playing a game in an NHL stadium with Olympians. The thought of what I have been able to accomplish through the CWHL took my breath away.?
While championship aspirations lay ahead for Battaglino and the Blades, for now, the Saddledome contest is as great a highlight as one could ask for in a remarkable rookie year. The game is one that will stay close to her heart. ???After the game I took a minute to look around and soak it all in, it is a game I will remember for the rest of my life.?