For her eye-opening, dominant all-zone performance in the Pride’s 5-1 victory over the Riveters on Saturday night, Boston defender Lexi Bender has been selected as the VEDA NWHL Player of the Week.
“It was so much fun playing with Lauren Kelly,” Bender said of her defense partner when informed she was the VEDA Player of the Week. “It was Lauren’s first pro game, but you never would have guessed it by the way she played.
“I definitely need to credit our incredible crew of forwards, too. They make my job really easy when they’re moving as fast as they were on Saturday night.”
Bender had two assists in the win in the Pride’s season opener at Warrior Ice Arena. Beyond the scoresheet, she carried the play – along with Kelly and the forwards as a five-player unit – in almost all of her shifts.
“Lexi is a fabulous player who makes everyone around her better,” said Pride head coach Paul Mara. “She has been exceptional in working with the younger players. On Saturday night, what can I say? She was great from beginning to end. On a weekend with a lot of great performances in our game and the game in Buffalo, it’s really good to see a defender rewarded for her hard work with the Player of the Week award.”
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She was selected 15th overall in the 2015 NWHL Draft and in 2018 was selected for Team NWHL’s series against the U.S. Olympic Team and for the All-Star Game in Minnesota. Dedicated to advancing the sport in Washington and across the U.S., Bender was one of four recipients last season of the NWHL Foundation Award.
When she signed her contract for this season, the popular Bender declared that her goal was to “Do anything and everything I can to help the Pride win the Isobel Cup, because I’m sick of seeing pictures of other teams with it all summer!” The work she put in to back up her words was evident on Saturday. Same for the entire Pride lineup.
“Everyone in the locker room was excited and ready to play,” said Bender. “We did a really good job playing fast and responding after the first goal (by the Rivs’ Amanda Kessel). We understood that the first game of the season is never going to be perfect, and we just kept coming. Last night was a great start.”
Ever the class act, Bender added about a word of respect for an opponent injured in the game. “I was relieved to hear Madison Packer is okay,” she said. “Always a tough situation, but was great to get the news on Sunday that it’s not serious.”
The Pride are back at Warrior Ice Arena on Saturday night, when they take on the Connecticut Whale. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone/tickets and the game will be streamed on YouTube.
Said Bender, “I think I speak for the team when I say that we are excited to get back to work at practice this week and keep building momentum on Saturday.”
Stay tuned each Monday for the announcement of the VEDA NWHL Player of the Week.