On the third weekend in a October this year, one of the newest member of Bray’s Bunch, our #5 Haley Payne, shuffled off to Buffalo for a two game set against the Beauts. With only a handful of practices under her belt, Haley seemed likely to see only limited action that weekend. And so it was, until late in the second period, when a game misconduct to our #12 Kendra Broad placed Haley smack in the middle of a furious Whale comeback attempt. She was suddenly a key member of The Most Exciting Team in Hockey. And one look into her eye of the tiger, and you knew she was ready. Here’s how Haley explained it.
“I was signed two weeks before that (series) and had about four practices. And then we were up to Buffalo that weekend, somfirst road trip, first two games. I had a couple of shifts here and there, and I remember going out there and I was like : we’re kind of in a rut right now” with the score. And the penalties were like back and forth all game, and I knew we needed one because I think we were down at the time. I was out there with Hanna Beattie and Maddie Evangelous and we kind of crashed the points and we had a 3 on 2 and we ended up going in and before we knew it the puck was in the back o the net. It all went so quickly. It was a very strange game, a lot of time in the box”
Haley scored that goal, the first of her NWHL career, to cut the lead to one, although the Pod was unable to catch the Beauts that day. Leading up to those first two games, Cetacean Nation was curious about Haley’s perception of her limited stint thus far as a Whale, and she highlighted the practices in her reply.
“i think the first practice was a little bit of a wakening. I think the thing that was different was the tempo. Just doing drills, I would say the passes were much crisper, it was a little quicker and you’ve got to stay with everyone. I feel when I was with Sacred Heart, University, the little mistakes you could capitalize on by covering up with other plays or something like that. But with these girls it’s high tempo. They are always moving and even the littlest mistake in a drill can mess things up. I think you have to be confident in every pass, every play, you always have to be aware of what’s going to happen next, because as I said it was a quicker tempo.”,
We also talked with Haley about the team, and she noted in particular the versatility of her teammates. “ A lot of the defenders do like to skate the puck. And Hanna said she played D all throughout college.” As for herself Haley explained'
"When I was a freshman and sophomore in college I played right wing, and coach had me at left wing some. But junior and senior year I played center. It’s like: you’re playing forward today, get out there :) I think when I was playing center I had a lot more confidence in my speed, because that’s kind of where my hockey IQ is at. Kind of helping out with the D, being more in the center of the ice. Bur I’ve had experience on both right and left wing and I think I like playing left wing better than right wing, I know the break outside is easier on right wing. But when you do get up the ice, that shot from the left side, I do think I get it off quicker. And it’s more of a harder shot from me than, going up the right wing, I have more power down the left as well.”
So how did it come about that Haley has brought her talents to the Pod? Haley told us:
“It all kind of happened so quickly! I graduated and I was living back at home, and probably about a month ago now, Bray reached out to me and asked would I be interested. And I said sure, why not? I wasn’t really doing much at the time, just looking for a job, so I came down to try-out and I loved it. And I thought it’s not only something to do for six months, but it’s something you love to do for six months. Why give it up now when you’ve got the opportunity? So I joined the team, and I love the team, they’re a great group of girls.It’s fun playing with kids from all over, and like I said, it’s a different tempo. These girls have played at the highest competitive level of hockey, and it’s good to kind of just jump tight in that with them. I am now actually living with two of my old teammates, so it all kind of worked out for me that it’s a team from Connecticut. So I have all my old teammates here, and my old friends. And it’s only about two hours from Boston, so it wasn’t too out of my comfort zone to jump right back into things.They are a great team,and they are a great coaching staff. It’s a lot of fun, it keeps you in shape, and like I said you get to play hoskey for a little bit longer.I’m having a blast,! And we have a couple of girls from Boston that I’ve actually played with in the past. I think it is a lot of fun!”
Haley is one of six current Whale who are from Massachusetts. Her hometown is Braintree, and Cetacean Nation asked how little Haley first got started in hockey. She related:
“My whole family was kind of a hockey family. All my older cousins played hockey, and my brother was actually a goalie. He’s two years older than me, and he started when he was 4 or 5 and I started when I was probably 4 or 5 as well. I always played with the boys, growing up. Charles River was my first travel team and I was with them from like U10 to U16 then I switched to the Islanders for a year. My parents friends were all hockey parents, so I was always hanging out with the boys at practice and was always on their teams. until,probably about until my freshman year of high school. That’s when I switched to girls hockey and did that for about two years, Then I actually played for Walpole Express under Anya Battaglino (Packer), she was my coach, it’s kind of a small world..She kind of helped me through the whole recruiting process. I knew playing for a high school team wasn’t going to get me far, it was just kind of a lower program. And I knew I had a lot more potential to play with girls who had more skills. So, I switched over to Walpole and I did two years there and then ended up at Sacred Heart. Growing up I was playing a bunch of different sports, but when it came time to choose one, I had to go with hockey, I played lacrosse and field hockey in high school as well. My lacrosse coach actually wanted me to go to Sacred Heart and play lacrosse and hockey, but I thought that would be a little too much to handle so I just stuck with one.”
We also asked Haley if having a multi-sports background was helphful and she replied:
“I think so, because I think if I had just played hockey, I feel that at some point you just burn out, just like any other kid would. And I think playing all those other sports, you realize what you want to stick with, what sport you think you have the most potential to do, Sometimes when you just play one sport you don’t fully develop in that sport. If you don’t play others, you don’t really know what you’re good at and what you’re bad at. I did play softball, probably finished that in middle school. I was big into softball, I played for my town, I played for travel teams I was a big soccer kid too, every neerkend indoor and outdoor soccer. Just about everything.i was withr shortstop or catcher, if they needed one (Bats right, throws right) But I think growing up with all those different tactics and different sports kind of really developed me as a person and as an athlete.”
Haley attended Braintree High School in her hometown, and we asked if she had ever considered prep school. She stated “I took the test to go to private schools, I passed and was going to go to one bit I said “Know what, at this point I live like five steps from my high school and ther’s such a good education in Braintree Sciols and I just said I’ll stay here and play hockey somewhere else.I have my club team, and they are hpjust as competitive as some of the prep schools threes days so I might as well just stick with that.” Haley went on to have some of that great multi-sport career we mentioned, as a student-athletes at Braintree High, In addition to starring on the ice, she was Captain & MVP of the field hockey team, and Captain, MVP and an All-League selection with the lacrosse squad.
But not surprisingly, it was a game she had on the ice with the Braintree High Wamps that really piqued our interest. On the night of January 14; 2013 in a game for first place in their conference, Haley scored a hat trick, and then she scored a second hat trick. Both in that one single games! Six goals in one game is an amazing feat under any circumstance, even in the context of huge blow-out between vastly unevenly matched teams. But Haley’s six goals came in a game that was between two equally strong teams, with a final score of 6-4. Haley scored every goal that night for a Braintree and Cetacean Nation asked if she could give us some insight. And at the end of her reply, you can see the eye of the tiger we mentioned, as she thought back and said:
“I don’t know what I had for dinner that day! I think at that time I was actually playing with the coach’s daughter Deirdre. I think it was my sophomore or junior year. And some of the girls from their travel teams were finally in high school at that point, so I had some help. We were playing our rival Weymouth, and I don’t know, we just kind of worked well together, a lucky puck or something. It ended up on my stick a lot, but I definitely remember that night. I think that even growing up, I hated to lose and I like to be a leader on the team, and I’m sure there was a little puck hoggin’ but, I I wanted to win, so.,, ;).”