Carlee Toews on Net-Front, Game Prep
By Jane Norton
In hindsight, the Boston Pride’s signing of Carlee Toews in early September may have flown under the radar. Perhaps it was because the Pride already looked fairly stacked before adding Toews. Or maybe it was her year away from competitive hockey after serving at captain at the University of New Hampshire Wildcats as a senior.
But Toews is flourishing with the undefeated giants in Boston, averaging a point a game with five goals and three assists (all primary) over the Pride’s eight wins to open the season.
“Carlee has been a find for us,” said Boston head coach Paul Mara. “I had high hopes for her based on what we saw in training camp, but you never know with first-year players because it can take time to adjust. But that hasn’t been the case with Carlee. She has jumped right in and been fantastic for us.”
Toews’ impressive play inspired us to reach out to the 5-foot-5 forward from Grande Prairie, Alberta. We were interested in her play in front of the net, prep for games, and seamless transition to the NWHL.
So we emailed Toews, who is currently earning her Master’s in Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons University, and she thoughtfully replied.
Is your net-front positioning something you emphasize at practices?
Part of being a forward is getting in front of shots – whether it’s screening the goalie or getting sticks on pucks. We’re very fortunate to have strong defensive players with great shots. It’s a fun game when pucks get through and even better when we get some goals as a result. We always have a couple drills throughout practice that incorporate tipping pucks from the D at the blue line. Our D are always looking to shoot for sticks, which also makes it a lot easier for the forwards.
Could you share some insights with the fans into your personal game-preparation?
Each player's game day routine is a little different. For me, I focus on getting a good night’s rest and making sure I am hydrating throughout the days leading up. I usually eat my pregame meal around 2-2:30 and although I have no special meal, I like to make sure it's filled with carbohydrate-rich foods.
Once I arrive at the rink, I usually tape my sticks first before getting a good warmup in. My warmups usually consist of rolling out, some activation movements and a dynamic stretch. Our dressing room atmosphere is really loose before games, which I like as it allows us to joke around with one another before going to work once the puck drops.
And how does Paul Mara and the coaching staff prepare the Pride for a game, like your next one Saturday at Warrior against the Whale?
Coach prepares us throughout the entire week by making sure we are practicing with game-like intensity and speed. The last practice of the week usually shifts to focusing a little more on special teams. Being able to capitalize on power plays is often what sets teams apart. We like to finish up with a couple small area games to have some fun and see how many goals we can slide past Hanson and Selander. It's an on-going competition between the forwards and the defense, so you can bet we're playing tough against one another. The energy it creates ultimately helps transfer the same level of intensity and compete into the weekends.
Why do you think you’ve shown no signs of rust and have had such a strong start to your NWHL career?
Luckily for me, I was on my skates all summer helping out with a power-skating camp back home in BC, Canada. Being around a hockey-focused atmosphere helped get me back into the right mindset! I’m very thankful for Paul and the Pride for giving me the chance to compete for a roster spot and play this year. After taking a year off, I realized just how much I missed the game and being around a great group of teammates.
Toews and the Pride return to action this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston against the Connecticut Whale. Fans are encouraged to order their tickets now at NWHL.zone/tickets because demand has been high for Pride games.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay