Hanna in action against the Boston Pride. Photo courtesy of BDZ Sports

HANNA BEATTIE: BACK HOME ON DEFENSE

Our amazing #16 All-Star Hanna Beattie has been a steady performer for the Pod for three years now, first joining the Whale in season three. She has skated as both a forward and defender for the team, a had a break-out season during 2019-2020, and was selected to the NWHL All-Star Game. We recently chatted with Hanna about the season and a few other things. Cetacean Nation started by touching base on how she is dealing with the current pandemic. Hanna explained

 “I am at home in my parents house in New Jersey, and it’s going surprisingly well so far. We’re staying inside and we’re working from home here. And then I’m just kind of getting out on walks and runs when I can. And we’re currently working through some home improvement projects to keep us occupied. So yeah, it’s been good so far.” Hanna is employed off ice by Octagon, a Stamford based firm, and like most people her work there has been impacted. She told us

“It’s a sports and entertainment marketing agency, and it’s experiential marketing. We actually put on events for different brands, and obviously all events are on hold for the foreseeable future, so that’s obviously effected us. So we’re looking at new ways to work with brands, maybe doing virtual events, things like that. And then also just planning for down the line once our quarantine is lifted. I’m hoping all of the playoffs can be held for the winter sports.” That would include the NWHL of course, and Hanna added “That would be easier to fit in than the NHL which has lots and lots of games to go.” And as to who might prevail in that contest she offered  “ I think I’m going to go with Boston. They’re a very strong team and Minnesota is as well. In general we played Boston closer, but I think they are going to win it. And it will be nice to win at home.”

Hanna earned her degree in psychology from Williams, and we asked if it that or her sports background that were most helpful in her work at Octagon. she considered that and said

“I think both. Being a psych major I think is so applicable to a lot of industries and specifically in marketing. My favorite area of psychology, there are five main areas, is social psychology. Knowing how, and understanding how and why people make the decisions that they do. And I think that is very applicable to marketing. There is something called the framing of fact how a question is framed can kind of make someone answer something a certain way. I think that’s everywhere, but that definitely drew me to marketing, because it was applicable. Then obviously my love of sports. When I graduated, I did not know I was going to be playing hockey.(for more on that part of the story, see Hanna’s first interview here: www.nwhl-cetaceans.com/440279359) So I wasn’t really ready to give up the sports world that has been so consuming in my life. So being able to work in sports was a major draw, so kind of the two of them combined makes it a very good fit for me.” 

As mentioned, Hanna has just finished her third season with the Pod. She along with #9 Kaycie Anderson, are the only players who first joined the Whale in season three, and have remained on the team. And by season’s end, Hanna now ranks fourth in career games played for the Pod. We asked her to comment on that and to get her thoughts on those three seasons.

"That’s very interesting, I did not know that. Very cool. It’s surprising that no one else from the second season is still around, but I guess that gives us third year players more opportunity to get those stats like that. Obviously the coaching staff from this year to the year before was different, our team makeup, things like that. But overall, I think the level of play has been really high throughout the three years. Second year that I played had the Olympians, so that was definitely an added challenge. But overall, I think the level of play has stayed consistently high, and I’ve been enjoying it more and more throughout the years!”

 Cetacean Nation noted that over the seasons, both Hanna’s scoring touch and explosiveness had developed, and really seemed to become a plus skill once she moved back to the blue line this season. We asked Hanna about that and she explained

“So, the first two seasons I was mainly playing center, so I kind of had some experience there with the offensive team. I played D throughout college, so that’s where I really feel comfortable, and I was brought back either in October or November to defense. And I just kind of got more opportunity there, which helped build my confidence. Playing against Boston and Minnesota, honestly I would watch what their defenders were doing. And it was extremely hard to defend when the Boston defenders would join the rush and a three on two can quickly become a four on two. It throws off the defending team. So I kind of was watching what they were doing, and how they were being successful, and tried to model some of my game after that. And then in terms of the explosiveness, we had Ben Prentiss as a trainer in Stamford, and we had a group of five or six of us there, and I think that was invaluable. They’re obviously the best at what they do and I think that really helped my game.”

Hanna is a remarkably versatile player, and as she referenced, she has played both as a center and along the blue line for the Pod. We wondered if among the adjustments required to do that, she used a different stick, or even trained differently,  She explained

“I do not. I’ve been using the same Bauer stick I’ve had since college. I had a few left over so I’ve been using those. We were given a Warrior sticks, but I’ve just been hanging on to my Bauer one. It’s days are numbered, but we’ll see from there.” And as to any training differences? “Not in particular, I think the quickness, well the quickness is important all over the ice, but a little more important as a forward. Where for defenders it’s a little more important to be stronger on the puck, stronger in the corners. Obviously that goes throughout the whole ice as well, but some of the strength in being a defender and still maintaining the quickness, but not prioritizing it over other things.”

Hanna at the post game autograph table with the Pod. Photo by Schuyler Meyer.

Whale defenders Jordan Brickner and Erin Hall missed a large chunk of the games this season due to injuries. Before blue line help arrived later this year,, Cetacean Nation wondered how Hanna and the other defenders adjusted to increased minutes on the ice.

 “We kind of knew going into it, especially against some of the quicker teams, that it was going to be a tough game. Having four D against Boston is a lot of work, and it’s tiring:) But our forward’s would help us out a lot. We would make it clear to them that we need to focus on defense, we need help getting the puck out and they would come back in support which was great. And it’s easier to join the rush when you have a deeper bench, so we would do that when we could, but our priority was the D zone”. Hanna served as a captain of the Williams College Ephs in her junior and senior hockey seasons. We asked if now being a young veteran, and with assistant captain Jordan Brickner going down with an injury, if she had moved more into a leadership role. She revealed

“I think so a little bit, not as much being a mediator between the team and the coaching staff, but as a third year player, with a lot of people being new to the league, we had a pretty young team. So just kind of being a support system for my teammates, cheering them on, trying to make light of situations that weren’t always...you know, losing against Boston 8-0 isn’t great but, but you kind of got to move on and work from there. So yeah, I had experience being a captain and just tried to do my best keeping the team moving forward and staying positive and kind of inspired for the rest of the season. And I’m a relatively vocal person as well, so that helps :)"

With the current situation, the stock market seems to be on everyone’s mind And it was on a certain day in December as well. The day the NWHL rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ in Times Square in New York City. We asked Hanna, who was among the contingent who represented the league that day, to tell us a little about the event.

“That experience was awesome! We went in the 23rd, so Inwas on break from work, the week,of Christmas. So Kaycie (#9 Kaycie Anderson) Anya (our former #4 Anya Packer) and Inall went into the city together. And then we met some of the other Riveter players there, one of them being Kendall Cornine, who is one of my good friends from growing up and playing on the Colonials. So we went to the studio, they had a nice little lounge area where a bunch of the other NWHL staff were and we kind of got to mingle with them, and the investors there. From there they brought us into the main part of the studio where they did the actual filming, and they did a quick walk-through of what we were going to do. Before we knew it we were live, Dani was talking (Commissioner Dani Rylan). It was being projected right outside of where we were so there were people outside standing around and watching which was kind of cool. And then we all filed in and it was time to ring the bell. They just told us to keep clapping and cheering, and we were doing that for like twenty seconds. Then it was over, and they walked us out and we got to see that side of the building that had the projection. And it had a highlight reel of NWHL videos, and they annoyed every person and said welcome, and congrats, so yeah, it was a really cool experience.I felt honored to be there.”

 Hanna just mentioned her youth hockey team, the New Jersey Colonials, and since her last interview two of her teammates there have joined the Whale. First #3 Kayla Meneghin last season, and then #10 Alexa Aramburu this season, so we asked Hanna about that, and what they were like, and she told us

"Pretty similar overall:) I have a memory of both of them, and we were actually joking about it when Alexa signed. We were all on the same team our U19 year for the Colonials and we went out to California for Nationals. And the three of us had a little day in San Francisco and took all these photos, so we were pulling up the photos of us from high school, which was kind of fun to look back on. We might have won bronze, I forget” 

 Obviously we had to talk to Hanna about the Whale play-off win in Buffalo. Hanna had a huge game, earning first star designation, scoring two goals and blocking five shots, playing dominant in all three zones. We had not considered the Pod underdogs, and as Hanna explained neither did the players.

"On paper we were the underdogs, but I don’t think anyone in the locker room thought we were! We hadn’t seen them since November so it was kind of interesting. We had played all the other teams recently, but we hadn’t played them in so long. We knew they were going to be a different team, but we were an entirely different team. So we had some confidence going into that. I wasn’t in the games the weekend before in a Minnesota, but they played spectacularly, probably some of the best hockey all season, so we had some momentum going in. Because I missed that game I was fired up and ready to get back to it. So I think we had some confidence going in and knew we could beat them, even in the beginning of the season, we knew we could beat them. It didn’t work out that way earlier, but we beat them when it mattered"  Cetacean Nation agrees on how much that game mattered, and we think the game will be looked back on as a watershed moment for the team.

 

Hanna likes to travel, which obviously is on the back burner at present, but we asked her to tell us a little about that.

"I really like to travel, and I love seeing new places. It’s been a recent goal of mine since I started going to some states that I wouldn’t necessarily go to maybe cross off every state in the country. I just went skiing with my family in Wyoming, but stayed in Idaho, so that’s a cross off, two states there! I travel a decent amount for work to a lot of different places and then travel with friends and family, so that’s something I definitely like to do. As to where she’s heading when things get back to normal, she said I’m not sure, I have a friend out in California, so visiting her would be a lot of fun. My next work trip as is scheduled now probably isn’t until October, and that’s in Boston. That’s not too far, but I love Boston, and always enjoy going there.”

Hanna has had some big moments on the ice at Warrior Rink, in Boston as well, including the All-Star game this year. But it also included this pretty cool moment there late this season, with a very similarly named Little Future Draft Pick named Hannah Beattie ( no relation). We asked Hanna about that and she told us

“We didn’t, unfortunately, get to meet during the game but they were there during warm-ups. She’s adorable, I don’t think she’s a year old yet, she’s a youngster. She was there with her parents, and they had a cool sign, and Shannon Doyle tossed a puck over the glass to them, and as I was heading into the locker room I gave her a fist bump so I think John, her father, was happy about that. I don’t know if the little girl knew what was going on, but I’m sure she had a good time! “

Hanna closed as we opened, by referencing the current medical crisis, with this message to the fans “Hope everyone stays safe and we come out of this on top.!” Fins Up to that, and to our amazing #16 Hanna Beattie for her thoughts, and on her first three seasons with the Pod. All of Cetacean Nation is looking forward to many more to come!

Hanna’s (center) photo with Alexa Aramburu L) and Kayla Meneghin (R) back in their NJ Colonials days