Photo By: Michelle Jay
One of eight defenders chosen to play on Team NWHL against the U.S. Olympic Team in January, Alyssa Gagliardi hails from Raleigh, North Carolina by way of Pennsylvania. She played Division I hockey at Cornell, where she holds the record for most games played (138). Gagliardi won the Isobel Cup with the Pride in 2016. On the international level, Gagliardi competed in two Four Nations Cups with Team U.S. She also competed in the 2014 U.S. Women's Under-22 Select Team against Canada. Gagliardi spoke with us about her selection to Team NWHL.
What were your initial thoughts when you heard the news that there would be an NWHL Team competing against the US Women’s National Team?
My first thought was just, ‘What a cool opportunity.’ It seems like a really great fit for both the NWHL and USA Hockey. We know a lot of the national team players played in the league the past two years and we’ve obviously all played with or against them growing up.
It’s a really cool opportunity, especially with the timing. These are the last games before they travel to South Korea. It’s such a unique opportunity for everyone in our league and the group that gets to go. It’s really big for women’s hockey to showcase that talent.
Describe what it means to have the opportunity to compete against two national teams (Russia and the United States).
It’s obviously a great opportunity to showcase the different skill levels from across the world. Getting to play Team Russia and the Connecticut Whale playing South Korea is really phenomenal and can only help some of those countries that maybe aren’t quite at the level of the US and Canada to take that next step too.
And speaks to the level of talent in the NWHL…
It definitely speaks to the depth. There’s a lot of us that have played in and out through the years and it's a cool opportunity to be able to showcase all the depth of the talent across the country.
Who are most excited to play with and against?
Obviously, there’s a really great group of forwards on Team NWHL. Being able to unite with Corinne Buie, who I played with on the Boston Blades and the Pride. So, it will be a great opportunity to play with some of these players that we face off against several times throughout the year and to finally be able to be on the same team and working towards the same thing.
We’re pretty good friends [with the national team]. It will be fun to go up against girls that I was high school teammates with. I was teammates with Amanda Kessel and Brianna Decker. So it will be fun to finally play against them. And again, just to be those last games before they compete for gold is really incredible.
Any other thoughts about Team NWHL and heading down to Florida?
It was exciting to see all the forwards named Wednesday and just being able to see the group we’re putting together in our league with all this talent. We’re hoping to give them two good games. It will be interesting because they’ve all been competing and playing together for months and even years, so it will be a little tougher on us. But I think we’re really excited just to give them the best competition we can.
You know, we’re looking to win [laughs]. That’s why you play hockey. So we’re hoping to get two good games and hopefully be able to pull out some good performances.