Whale rookie Maddie Bishop wearing her Sacred Heart Women's Hockey sweater. . Photo courtesy of SHU Athletics


 “Chess is everything: art, science and sport”
                                        Anatoly Karpov, Russian chess grandmaster

Cetacean Nation believes that there are elements of sport in chess, as well as elements of chess in sport. Certainly Anatoli Tarasov, the original driving force behind the Russian/Soviet hockey program thought so, and incorporated chess in his hockey theory and style. But although there are chess implications in both her sport and her name, our amazing rookie forward Maddie Bishop, eschews gambits. When she’s on the ice, she’s coming for you. When spoke with Maddie, we began by asking her about Draft Night. And her reply contains the first hint of what kind of a player GM Bray Ketchum Peel has added to the Pod, and her sense of humor. So what was Draft Night like for this native of Wethersfield, CT?

 “I was very excited. I was still at school with all of my school friends. I live with my teammates from Sacred Heart, so I was still at school up there. And Haley Payne, who plays for the Whale, she was with us as well. We were good friends. And so it was funny, everyone just kept like checking Twitter, when I was going to go, I was just nervous, I just had never been through anything like that experience. My parents kept Face Timing me, asking when I was going. A lot of nerves and excitement, and I had a great support system around me. I got so many text messages and calls, and my friends around me were so excited for me, just a great group of people to be around. When I had first spoke to GM Bray, I asked what she was looking for, and she said: Size, strong players. And I’m like: OK, I hope you know I’m 5’3” and like 120 pounds:) Honestly, that’s one thing that’s made me such a good player throughout my life. I was always the smallest person on the team, so my size wasn’t going to get me noticed. I would have to find other ways to earn attention, like how aggressive I was. I always had to play like I was the biggest person on the team, even when I wasn’t. That’s what I’ve always gone by. I’ve got two older brothers, they’ve helped me with all the toughness, so it’s been going good. Playing larger than I am is something I’ve heard my whole life, and something I try to stick by “

Maddie added “Honestly, shen I was growing up my shot wasn’t always that good. So I always wanted to pass the puck and t think that developed my creative aspect as a player. And it allowed me to see the ice a lot better. And as I grew up, I made sure I was working on my shot everyday, and getting stronger and all that stuff. And still then I was like if I had the pass, I was going to make the pass. Obviously if you have the shot you’re going to make the shot. But I love to make plays and love to be the person that’s setting something up and making a goal happen and putting everything in motion. I just love that feeling on the ice. “ 

Cetacean Nation was also curious about when Maddie first got to know about the NWHL, and when she start thinking about playing there. She  replied

 “I knew about the NWHL probably last year, the beginning of the Sacred Heart Season when Haley Payne went to play there. I knew it was a league, I had heard about the NWHL and everything. But never knew that much about it, until obviously a close friend went and played there. And then later in our season, once our season ended, another girl who is actually one of my linemates this season, Jayne Lewis went to the Riveters at the end of their season for the play-off run. So then I got to know more about it. But I still didn’t really think that I would find myself playing. But I just was like four years of high school, four years of college, and I was so upset it was ending. I was trying to come to terms that maybe hockey was ending for me. And then my coach actually reached out, saying that Bray Ketchum the Whale GM was actually asking for my contact information. She asked me if I wanted to play, and I was like: Oh, my gosh maybe this could work for me. I was trying to come to terms with a sport that you’ve played your whole life coming to an end. Something you worked on your whole life, coming to an end. That just didn’t feel right. Then all of a sudden, I got an offer to play for the Whale, and I just thought that I should take it. I was completely honored by all of it!” 

Like everyone else, Maddie has had to deal with an offseason like no other due to the pandemic. So as we have been doing, we inquired as to where and how she was dealing with things. She replied

"So I am currently at home right now, in Wethersfield, CT with my family. I spent some time at my college house for a little, but finally we were like: All right, it’s time to go home! it’s been definitely tough going from a routine of going to class then going to practice then going to lift, always going, going, going. To just like stop. I’ve been trying to like be OK without always having my schedule like that, but at the same time when you spend so many years being active, it’s tough. I’m like: I gotta get out of the house! So I try to go for runs do ab workouts in my yard, just trying to get some stuff in that makes me feel a little bit at peace. But it’s tough, definitely.”

She continued "Last year I went to a gym in Hartford at the YMCA and I would get myself in there whether it was mornings before work or right after work. I would try to get myself in almost every day. I would train in there and lift some weights. And on days that I wasn’t lifting weights, I would go outside and do some running. Lomg distance running, to stay in shape. You’re never in hockey shape, but I was trying to get myself into near hockey shape by getting some runs in. Sometimes I would just do sprints to get my speed up. And with moving up to different levels even from high school to college the pace of the game is so much faster. That is where sprints hopefully helped me out, because I was trying to get myself quicker everyday. Keep it up, get faster get better than other players too.”

 Cetacean Nation also asked Maddie if she had any particular interests or hobbies to help pass the time during the periods greatest restrictions during the oandemic. She laughed

 “OMG, I don’t even know. I would saying running, but I don’t really like running, I just like working out" she laughed. While I’m running I’m like: OMG I hate this! But after I’m running it feels good! I love Netflix, I can say that, but that makes me sound a little lazy. I watch so many series.  I love new series .But my favorite show, obviously, Friends, they took it off Netflix. That was always my go to. When I was younger my parents bought me the whole DVD set, I watched that all the time. But other than that, right now I’m watching All-American, and just like the different TV shows that are on Netflix I like to watch. Sometimes, I binge watch" she chuckled  "it depends. A lot of times I like to watch it with my Mom , we’ll sit down and one episode or two episodes and be like OK, that’s enough. But when I was with my friends earlier this offseason, when all this was going on, we were like let’s watch a whole season, just sitting on the couch. So I would say it definitely depends on who I’m with and what’s going on, and all that stuff. But I’ve definitely done both! "

Maddie as we mentioned hails from the Nutmeg State, Wethersfield to be specific, about an hour northeast of Danbury along the Connecticut River. So as one of our truly locals players, we wondered how did Maddie get started in hockey? She explained 

“Well, my Dad plays hockey in a men’s league still, and I have two older brothers who have also played hockey before me. So my Dad just put me on skates and said I think you’re gonna like it, and I started doing it. I have a younger sister as well, and she also played. Our whole family just got into it, and it became like a passion as a whole for everybody I first started out with the Central Capitals, in Newington. That's where both my brothers played. I played with the boys for as long as I could, but as soon as the checking league came up, my Dad said I don’t think you’re going to do too well there, so he moved me over to girls. Then I went over to the Connecticut Northern Lights for U12. I was in that age bracket, which I think is 10 to 12. I went right there after playing with the guys and played there all the way through U19, until I went to college.”

We also asked Maddie if she had played any other sports. She said she had, and told us

 “I played lacrosse In high school. I tried to get into it in eighth grade to get the basics down, and then I played in high school but stopped my senior year. As much as it’s fun, it was a whole different game than hockey. I like the aggressiveness of hockey like getting into the corners and battling. But in lacrosse, as soon as I made stick contact with someone there was a whistle! It was just like a whole different sport. So it was fun, and being outside was awesome and doing a whole other sport was great as well. But I got to my senior year and just said: I don’t know if I want to keep playing, so I quit. My Dad hated it. He was upset that I quit, but it was best for me.”

She added  “I think honestly my Dad actually made me try every sport. Eccept I didn’t play basketball and I didn’t play soccer. But I played softball, but I didn’t really like that. Swimming and diving too. I was good at swimming and diving but one day I flipped off the diving board wrong, and got a bruise all over my face so I quit that:) it was like a double flip or something and I hit my face on the water so hard I got all bruised and that was the end for me! I was like: Nope, not doing this anymore! I did gymnastics a little because I was perfect size, but I didn’t like that. I also did dance and I played tennis. I legitimately tried just about every sport and the only one that stuck with me was hockey” she laughed.  “I love that I tried out every sport to figure which one I actually enjoyed going to and working hardest at.” 

The high school Maddie attended was East Catholic, just a few miles across the river in Manchester. They were part of a high school co-op team comprised of girls from Glastonbury, South Windsor and East Catholic Highs. They were referred to as ETB for the school’s nicknames: Eagles,Tomahawks, Bobcats.  Maddie had a great career there as a high scoring wing, and among other honors was a Southern Connecticut Conference Girls Ice Hockey First Team.All Star and also the Girls' Ice Hockey, Division I Player of the Year in the SCC. Maddie  commented modestly “ I got lucky with the four years I played there we had great teams each year.“ But there was a bittersweet moment, and it occurred in overtime in a  Championship Game. The end was, to say the least, premature. It actually garnered a lot of attention at the time, with Maddie even being interviewed afterwards by USA Today about the game. The issue was, that after two overtime periods, the game remained tied. Instead of playing until someone scored, the game was called, So that the scheduled bot’s game could begin. Both squads became co-Champions. Maddie was understandably frustrated, and Cetacean Nation asked her to reflect on that game in hindsight, now that it lay further in her past. Maddie gathered her recollections and stated

 “It’s always tough looking back. We ended at two overtimes and never got a full finish But at the end of the day I look back, and the team, we were State Champions. And it stinks it was never fully defined, and we never finished the game. And there was never declared an overall winner. But looking back I think: I won a state title in high school! I think the thing that hurts the worst was that reality that there was a guys team coming on after us, and that was ultimately said to be why they determined our game to be over. And that’s where equality comes in and all that stuff. We should be allowed to play and we should be allowed to play it out. If it had been stopped because there was a another girl’s game following, it wouldn’t have been the underlying thought of: is this really why it was ended, because there was a guy’s game after us? You just never know. We had so many good runs even throughout my four years, but I can’t look back and say we won those years.We lost the next year in the State final. So at least I get to look back and have the appreciation of knowing that in high school, I won a State Championship. Obviously at the time it hurt, but now there’s different feelings towards it. I look back, and we were State Champions, and that’s all you can look at.”

At East Catholic High School, about the same number of student are involved in service programs as in athletics, about 80%. That seemed a pretty remarkable statistic, and we asked Maddie how that came about. She revealed

“East Catholic had a rule that you had to complete a certain amount of service hours, which was awesome honestly. Because it gets everyone involved. And until you are forced to be involved in something you don’t realize even, how much it makes an impact on your life. Our whole team got involved in the soup kitchens in Manchester. So we set up for our whole team to go to this service event, and it would account for our school requirement. But it was awesome to go with our team, and have everyone do it as a whole. You would go to the soup kitchens for three hours, and then we would do it again until we met our requirement. Our team definitely got involved, together. It was awesome to be a part of. The ten hours service we would have to do each year. So we would probably do the soup kitchens, whether it was two times, and two times a year the next year, and so on. It was spread out from my freshman to my senior year. It was awesome, I give East Catholic so much credit for being involved in that. East Catholic is a great school, and this really opens your eyes to not take a lot of things for granted, because we do really live good lives, you know? “  Cetacean Nation agrees and thinks although no one can fix everything, everyone can do a little something, it makes the world a better place.

Maddie’s full first name is Maddison, but it seemed she goes by Maddie primarily. We asked if that indeed was the case and she confirmed

 “Oh, 100%! I even think when I was signing my Sacred Heart papers,I signed everything Maddie. And our head coach calls everyone by their first name, and by their full name. But I was the only one different, he called me Maddie! Honestly, Maddie was what coach called me. So people on the team called me Bishop, just because it’s my last name. And in high school as well, everyone just called me Bishop, because it was a cool last name I guess. Other than that, anything that flowed out of people’s mouths that they were calling me, I was like: All right! :) My East Catholic head coach called me mini, because I’m always the smallest person on any team you’ll ever meet, like always! I”m 5’3”. :)

When it came time to choose a college, Maddie opted for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT Shevexplained her decision, this way.

“So my brother actually went to Sacred Heart as well. .My brother is only twenty-three, two years ahead of me, so he was a sophomore at the time I wanted to go. But I really wasn’t fond of looking at colleges. The thought of change at first really scared me. I was so nervous about leaving high school. In high school I made such a name for myself on the team, like so many other girls did as well. We just had such success as a team. And moving on was so hard for me. So I didn’t look at too many colleges, and finally my coach from the Northern Lights was like: Maddie, where do you want to go to school? Let me know and I’m going to call a bunch of coaches and help you out. And finally Sacred Heart came up, because it’s so close to home, it’s only an hour away from me. My brother was there which gave me a little bit of comfort in that aspect. And I loved the campus, they’ve done so much work to that campus, it’s beautiful. So, It was like you know, if I could play there that would be the ideal place that I could go. So my coach talked to Tommy O (SHU Head Coach Tom O’Malley) who is there right now. And he was like:Yeah, I think Maddie’s a good player, we’d love to have her! So I went and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made, honestly. I met great people there, the team was awesome, I learned so much from all of it. It’s been awesome! “

Maddie continued “I majored in finance and economics, and I was unclear as to what career paths I wanted. My Dad is a very big business guy, so he advised me to maybe just start out undecided in business and see where I wanted to go want to go in that. And I’ve always liked math, and I’ve always been a numbers girl. So once I started getting into some of the electives in Finance! liked that a lot. You could also double major so you could put Economics with it as well, because they seemed to go hand in hand. So I enjoyed that, and ended up getting my degree in both.So I’m a double major, Finance, and Economics.! “ 

Sacred Heart had a virtual graduation, and we asked Maddie if there was anything else in the works along those lines. She replied

“We don’t, they cancelled the one that would have happened in May which obviously, we understand, because everyone’s safety icomes first. So they’re sending emails out and saying they get what we are going through, and there’s will be a celebration, they just are unsure when they’re going to have it. So they say they will, but at the same time, who knows with everything going on right now, when it’s going to end, or what’s going on with all of it. I’m very unsure when we’re going to have it.”

On the ice for the SHU Pioneers, Maddie had a great career, accounting for 88 points (32g/56a) during her four seasons skating as a forward. "I’m a wing"she told us "I used to play both, but I was not very good as a center. My high school coach had me there for one year, and then he was like, Yeah, you’re going to be a wing. And ever since then, I’ve stuck to wing.” In the 2016-2017 season, Maddie helped lead the Pioneers to a New England Women's Hockey Alliance Championship, and served as a co-Captain her. senior  season. Since she had also been a Captain at East Catholic, we asked her about her leadership style. She shared

Senior Captain of the Pioneers, Maddie Bishop. Photo courtesy of SHU Athletics.

“Yes, on my high school team I was a captain, also my senior year. On the Northern Lights I was always seen as a leader, they didn’t give out captains on the travel teams. But I was always seen as a leader. And one thing that always stuck out to me was that I’ve had several people that say they looked up to me because of my hard work. And for how much I have a passion for the game, and that’s why they looked up to me as a leader to them. So ever since I had that start, I wanted to take that with me wherever I went. So going to Sacred Heart, by time I was coming up to my senior year, I was already a leader on my team. I didn’t have a letter on my sweater my junior year or anything like that. So then coach made me co-Captain with my other teammate Olivia Bryant. It was just a huge excitement for me, I was honored to have it. And going in there and just having a good season, I was assuming it was the end of hockey, and I wanted to go out with no regrets. I was like, I’m going to work even harder every day this summer and make sure I’m going in there and not having any regrets looking back, wishing I worked harder on this.”

During her Sacred Heart career, we recalled Maddie also put up a couple of five point games, and we wondered, if in retrospect, those days were somehow different, Maddie acknowledged

 “Yes, I had two five point games this season, but I’ve had a few other multi point games throughout my career. And everyday feels normal, going to the rink it’s the same type of thing. But some days you step on the ice and the pucks are going your way, the bounces are going your way. I’m a playmaker myself, I love to see the ice and I love to pick my head up and pass the puck. That’s something I take pride in, I would rather get an assist than score the goal. That’s just who I’ve always been as a player. So sometimes I pick my head up, and the perfect play is there. On some days, it just all clicks, and the perfect play is there the whole day. “

And sometimes those days can occur on special teams, and we asked Maddie about her experiences on the PK and PP. and she gave us this interesting reply, with a caveat.
“Yeah, so throughout Sacred Heart I was thrown on the power play a lot. Obviously the last two years, being on the first, top power play, and in the beginning years he would throw me on now and then, you know, add a little bit of a different edge. Coach always thought I saw the ice differently, and he would always put me on to see if I could make that one pass that was going to set the whole play in motion. So, I’ve always been a part of power plays. And then penalty kills, as well, a lot my senior year, I was put on almost every penalty kill, which was awesome. I love the penalty kill. But being smaller, I think at first my coach was a little hesitant to put me out there. And the more I proved to him that I could be that go-to player, he was like: OK, I have that faith in you. Power play and penalty kill can also disrupt the whole creativeness that you’re going through as a line and everything, and your legs as well. If you take one shift off, if you’re not playing on the PK or PP, you’ve got to get back into that funk of getting up and going.”

Cetacean Nation was also curious as to what Maddie’s favorite memory or moment was in her career on the ice for Sacred Heart. She reflected

 “Ahh, I’m like trying to think, there’s so many great moments! One of them definitely had to be my sophomore year winning our NEWHA Championship. That was just like unbelievable. That was an experience you can’t even put into words, you know? You couldn’t really recreate that experience any other time, so that was awesome. We had the best team, we had the best seniors that year. You wanted to win for them. Everybody just cared so much about each other, there was no hate between any players or anything like that. So that year was awesome! And then another game that comes to mind, I think it was my sophomore year, we were playing Brown University.. Brown was always so much stronger than us, and had kicked our butt the day before, they beat us 7-2 I think. And the next day we came in and we’re like:You know what, we’re not going to let this team kick us around. We’re a good team, and we’ve got to go and make it happen. Me and my best friend we’re on the team, and as sophomores we were on the third line, and we were like: This is going to be a good game for us. And I think on the first goal, I had passed it to her and she scored. On the second goal I had also passed it to her and she scored. And the third goal, she passed it to me and we scored.Other girls scored two more goals, and we ended up winning 5-3. And I don’t know, being the underdog to a team and then coming out and winning, and then also knowing that you were a huge part of that win, was one of the best feelings I could have had. When you are an underdog your like: You know what? I’m going to come out and we are not losing this game. That’s a great feeling. We weren’t an unqualified team. We weren’t the underdogs in the sense that we were any worse than Brown. But everyone just expected Brown to beat us, because they beat us in the years before. But we were like: You know what? We’re just going to show them we’re not to be overlooked!”  The Whale and all of the fans in Cetacean Nation know that an underdog is often a hungry dog. Especially in Buffalo.

We were also curious if  Maddie had any preference in terms of what number she would wear with the Pod. She replied “Honestly, if I was younger, I would say #7 of course. In high school I was #7, and that was my go to number and I loved that number. Then I came to college and someone else had it, and I was so upset. But then I took #20, and #20 has a whole new meaning for me, and I love that number too. So obviously if I went in and they offered me #20 I would love it, but if someone else already had it, it wouldn’t make me too upset! Even if I wear a different number, I may make a whole new experience with that number, who knows? "  Interestingly, #20 belonged to Laurel Hill last season, but word  is that she will switch to #10 for 2021. So perhaps #20 is still in a Maddie’s future with the Pod!

As we concluded our chat with Maddie, she provided an inspiring message directed towards one of our favorite groups of fans:our Little Future Draft Picks!  She offered these words for them

"I say this to you, because I’m hoping younger girls are reading this who are still playing. This can give them some hope or something to look forward to. When I was playing with the Northern Lights for my first U14 season, I did not make the top team.. I was so upset, I wanted to quit. I was so ready to like throw in the towel, and be like: Ah, I don’t want to do this! I expected to make the top team, all my friends made the top team, I was just so upset. This is when I realized that hockey was something worth fighting for. It was something I didn to want to give up, it was kind of where I found my passion in the sport. And I had a great support system with my family as well. Obviously my parents were like: We’re going to support you no matter what you do, but we know you don’t want to quit. And so all of that kind of motivated me to get back, get back better than I ever was before. And work so hard that I’ll never have to be put in that situation again. I think the failure of not making that top team, made me as successful as I am today. I just feel that for younger people that are reading this, if something like that ever happens to them, they know that’s not the end for them. And that can help them succeed. I think it was definitely something where I realized my passion for hockey. And I’m not going to let any failaure make me quit, so just for other people too. I know from being in that situation and dealing with failure can be so hard, especially when you haven’t dealt with it. and dealing with it at a young age of fourteen you could make the wrong decision and say : I give up. But if you let it motivate you and make you come back better than you were before, it can change a life. Maybe you are small and you get put on a team just because of your size. size, it’s easy to be overlooked. But as long as you work for what you want and show that you’re here to play and show how good you can be, it can work out for you.”

We loved that message of hope for the next generation of players, and playing it forward, we think things will work our quite well for Maddie with the Pod. She added “I hope so! Obviously I was so nervous, and I still am nervous! Like I said about going to college, I was nervous and change frightens me, but I think it’s going to be an awesome experience, and I think I’m going to have a lot of fun. There”s definitely challenges ahead with it, but I’m excited to conquer all that, and go and prove myself there, you know?”

Yes we do know, and all of the fans in Cetacean Nation will be excited to see Maddie in January, making the pass or taking the shot thats results in a score. And we wouldn't be surprised, if the call on the goal was "Checkmate"l She may only be 120 lbs. but about half of that is heart. Fins Up to our newest member of the Pod Maddison “Maddie” Bishop for her entertaining and inspiring thoughts for the fans!

Speaking of Little Future Draft Picks, in the big scheme of things, it wasn't all that long ago that Maddie was counted in their ranks!