When you look back on the Whale’s 2019-2020 season, there are certain plays that were not only awesome in the moment, but stick with you long after. For example, one of our favorites was the short-handed goal our amazing third year forward, #9 Kaycie Anderson, scored against the Riveters. With injuries to the defense, and the team identity still very much in the developmental stage, our penalty kill was sorely tested in many games. Kaycie changed a lot of perceptions and made a team statement in a matter of seconds on the play pictured above. So Cetacean Nation had to ask Kaycie for some background on that, and if those type of plays or finishes are something you can practice. She explained to us
“I wouldn’t say it’s something we really practice, we occasionally do shoot-outs at the end of practice and you occasionally get breakaways in practice and games. We talked about what we needed to do between periods. We needed to start being more aggressive and creating chances because we were down by one goal going into the third period I think. Coach gave us the go ahead to be a little more on the penalty kill to start the third. Something funny about that goal was Taylor (Marchin) said in the locker room before we went out for the third period: We are going to get a shorty, I can feel it. Well, she was right! My PK partner Sarah (Schwenzfeier) and I went out to start the third with Lando and Taylor. We were putting good pressure on and not allowing them to enter the zone, when I just happened to be in a good position to intercept a pass intended for one of the Rivs players. I just took it down the ice as fast as I could trying not to over think anything and shot five hole and it went in! I am good friends with Anya and Madison Packer and we always joke about that goal because Madison was the one who passed the puck that I intercepted!”
Kaycie had a career season, not only in terms of becoming our top scorer, but in a lot of other ways. Kaycie played in all twenty-six of our games, and now ranks seventh all time in career games played for the Pod. And in terms of career points, she is tied for eleventh on the Whale, and the only active Whale ahead of her are Shannon Doyle and Jordan Brickner. It had to be physically tough to be on the ice as often as Kaycie was this season, but she thrived in the challenge. She told us
“I'm grateful for the opportunity and confidence that the coaching staff had in me this season. They trusted me in all situations on the ice which made me work even harder to keep them and the team's trust in my playing ability. A handful of us attend Prentiss Hockey Performance which was a real game changer this season. Everyone who attended PHP grew stronger and more confident throughout the season because of all the work we were putting in off the ice. The trainers did an outstanding job with us and it really showed on the ice for us. It felt great to play my part in every practice and game and I thought everyone was given a lot of opportunity to shine this season which was awesome.” Fins Up to that!
In addition to her great season on the ice, Kaycie continued to be an advocate for growing not only the game, but the Whale specifically, off the ice as well. When we spoke to Grace Klienbach preseason, when she returned after a year’s absence, she
gave Kaycie credit for helping keep her interested in the Pod after season three. And Allie LaCombe gave Kaycie a shout out for helping recruit her, when we interviewed her as well. Those are interesting stories, and we thought it would be good to hear about that from Kaycie directly as well. She explained
“Of course, I want nothing more than for the Whale to be a Cup contender every year. Grace was one of my best friends from our first season on the Whale in season 3. I was sad when it didn’t end up working out in season 4. We kept in contact and as season 5 approached I asked if she was still interested in playing and she said she was. I knew she was a great player and teammate and she would have the chance to play again. I was very happy to have her back on the Whale last season and I thought she looked better then ever out there. And it was awesome seeing her get the nod for All-Star weekend!”
Kaycie continued “I met Allie in high school where we played for the same summer team, the Orange Crush. She played for a much larger school then I did so we never played against each other. She has always been very skilled, and an outstanding competitor. I reached out to her last fall and again over the winter to see what she was up to and to try to get her in contact with our GM and coaches. She was always a game changer for our summer team. I knew that she was running a hockey training program and coaching in Nashville, so I thought she’s still on the ice and active in growing the game, so she would be a solid addition to the team. I was so happy that it ended up working out and she could come play for us and make an immediate impact. Hopefully next season the Whale fans will have a chance to see her play again! I love having fellow Minnesotans on the team!” Fins Up to that!
Cetacean Nation thinks league did a good job of keeping track of stats this season, like blocked shots and face=offs won, for example. But some plays don’t really lend themselves to stats. Kaycie is a tenacious forechecker and backchecker and disrupting puck handlers and passes seemed to be something she did more and more of as the season went on. We asked her if that was more of a result of her personal game plan, or the system the Whale were playing, or some combo of both?
“It was a combination of both things. I felt healthy and more confident this season in my abilities. I was trying to get back to my style of play of being smart, fast and tenacious in all three zones. Some of that goes back to having PHP working with us on our power, strength and speed all season. We had a lot of speedy players, so on our forecheck we had people going hard on the puck all the time to disrupt all the fantastic players in the league. You don’t want to give them too much time or space. We all know the importance of backchecking hard and picking up your player.”
Having just played her third NWHL season, we also asked Kaycie if there was anything new or different this season, and if there was something she could share with the fans, that they might not be aware of ? She responded
“I think this season more then the past two, we had had a great atmosphere around the team. With the addition of our GM and coaching staff they really set the tone for the season and instilled confidence in everyone. Our new venue was nice but a little further away then Stamford which allowed for a little extra team bonding time for my carpool group which consisted of me, Lando (Elena Orlando), Pickles (Emma Vlasic), (Hanna)Beattie, & Kendra (Broad)! We would stuff ourselves into my SUV or Lando’s and make our way to practice and games together. It was a lot of fun! We made regular Dunkin’ runs, smoothies before games and Lando would make banana bread after away trip weekend for everyone at practice. I hope we keep the crew together for next season! “ Cetacean Nation loved that content, and that's not the only Fins Up to Elena’s banana bread that we’ve heard!
Cetacean Nation also mentioned to Kaycie that there seemed to be such great synergy on the ice with her center for most of the season, our #21 Sarah Schwenzfeier. We wondered how much of skating on a line with Sarah was influenced by their Norwich dayys. Kaycie revealed
“Yeah, Sarah and I played most of my senior season at Norwich as linemates (her freshman year). We also played PP and PK together all season in 2014-2015. The familiarity and trust we have, made things easy in terms of communicating when we were paired up for all of this season as linemates and PKpartners. We combined a lot for some pretty plays in college and it was fun to do it again this season at the professional level!”
Cetacean Nation thinks the NWHL seems to be in a good place right now, and there are a ton of great players crammed into just five teams. It seems that each year, the pool of elite players is growing and it seems almost a forgone conclusion that the league will keep expanding. We asked for Kaycie’s thoughts on how she would assess the “state if the league” and how she views it’s future going forward?
“I couldn’t agree more the women’s hockey is a growing game and every year the talent pool gets deeper. If you follow college hockey you can see that D3 has new teams joining the league every year and there have also been a few new D1 teams added, like LIU where our former Whale captain Sam Faber coaches. With the pool of elite players becoming deeper there is no doubt the league will expand successfully. The league had its best year with sponsorships and viewership and I only see it going up in the seasons to come.”
Cetacean Nation appreciates the thoughtful insights that our amazing young veteran #9 Kaycie Anderson, has once again provided. We finished things up with her by inquiring about how and where she was dealing with the pandemic. She shared
“Well I’ve actually been sick since our last game of the season unfortunately, but I’m starting to recover. A week after the season ended, my boyfriend and I left CT temporarily to go to upstate New York where we can quarantine in a remote location. For now all non-essential work has been halted until the government says its okay to go back. As for training I have been taking it easy for now since I have respiratory issues so it has mostly consisted of walking the dogs around the property, a few rounds of golf and some light strength training. This has been a weird time but I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! “
Right back at you Kaycie! Get well soon and before too long we hope to see you back, out on the ice, a force to be reckoned with, getting ready for Season Six! And oh by the way, just as this was going on line, Kaycie made it official. She has re-signed and is coming back for her fourth season, with the Pod!
Fins Up to that!