Grace and Shayne with some of the Little Future Draft Picks of 14/94 Hockey

GRACE KLIENBACH: ALWAYS GIVING BACK TO THE GAME


Season Six was the third season with the Whale for our Amazing #94, All Star wing Grace Klienbach. We caught up with Grace recently after a week on the ice running one of her 14/94 Hockey Camps with her husband Shayne Morrissey. And we started things off with three congratulations for her. The first one was on her marriage to Shayne last Christmas Eve, and we asked Grace about how that went during those Covid times. She explained

 “My sister actually got ordained, so my sister was the one who ran the whole shebang for us. We did it at my house in front of the fireplace. So my sister ran it, and I had my Mom and my brother’s long term girlfriend Jessica (She’s been a part of the family for so long);, on my side. And then on Shayne’s side we had my Dad and my brother. And since Shayne is from Canada, his family was on Zoom, so that way they could be there for it. Canada’s still up in the air (re: Covid).The last time Shayne was in Canada was December 2019 for Christmas, and then Covid hit. Usually we try to get to both of our homes twice a year, Florida and Canada. At that point Shayne had been there for Christmas and we were looking to go to Newfoundland in the summer of 2020, but obviously Covid hit and we couldn’t do And it's so tightly closed now, that he could go home but I wouldn’t be able to go with him because I’m not a Canadian. And if he did go, he’d still have to quarantine for two weeks right now. If you’re not a permanent resident, you can be a visitor, but you still have to quarantine. So Shayne hasn’t been home at all. It’s just been crazy.” 

The second item we congratulated Grace on was key to our title for this interview. At the end of Season Six, Grace was presented the prestigious NWHL Foundation Award. The Foundation Award, as described by the league, “Is awarded each season to the player most actively applying the core values of hockey to her community as well as growing and improving hockey culture.” And it is not the first time Grace has been singled out by the NWHL for her efforts in these areas. She informed us

"My first year with the Whale I got recognized for it. Even though I didn’t get the award, I still got recognized for it. And I think it’s one of those things where I always loved just giving back and helping out." she chuckled. “I feel like I’m usually the first person to volunteer for some of that stuff. I just enjoy doing it, more than anything. Which makes sense with why I got involved in coaching now. I just love giving back to the girls, and you can tell how much it means to them to see us there. Not only being there but happy to be there, happy to be engaged with them. I’m like a social butterfly with that kind of stuff. I love talking to the girls, seeing where they’re from, seeing what got them involved, all of thaI. I just like being that bridge between the youth and the pros, and to help them realize that they can get to this. This is something they can aspire to get to, and I can help them along the way. Whether it’s helping to boost their confidence or helping with a certain skill set, or just being there to talk to. I just love being there and seeing the game grow, it’s an awesome thing to be involved in.”

Cetacean Nation wondered if Grace had a particular favorite moment with those Little Future Draft Picks, and she said

"I don’t have one particular moment, but it’s pretty cool whenever some girls get super excited when they know who I am, know where I:ve been, know what I’ve done. It’s pretty awesome to have these girls come up to you, and looking up to you, asking so many questions and caring so much about who we are. As a hockey player that’s pretty awesome to know that there are little girls out there, little hockey players, Little Future Draft Picks, who are looking up to us. They love nothing more than just getting a picture with us, getting a signed autograph. Those are the kind of things that also make it worth it. But it’s awesome to be recognized by the younger kids who are aspiring to be us. You see it all the time in the NHL, where kids have Crosby jerseys on or Ovechkin jerseys on, and they aspire to be this player, and that’s their favorite player in the world. And it’s pretty awesome that now we are becoming that for some of these girls. Just like they’re wearing their jerseys, they’re wearing our jerseys now. And they feel about us, the same way they feel about some of those NHL players. So it’s just awesome to have that connection. And it’s just so nice to see, especially whenever we do an event, whether it’s 14/94 or something with the Whale, no matter what, because I’ve been a part of this league. You can tell it makes a difference, and the girls really look up to it.” 

“I love talking to the girls, seeing where they’re from, seeing what got them involved, all of thaI. I just like being that bridge between the youth and the pros, and to help them realize that they can get to this. This is something they can aspire to get to, and I can help them along the way.”

Another thing we complimented Grace on were a series of exercise videos (Here’s one: https://fb.watch/6tA2aRLmZf/) she made for the Whale. They looked so professional, we wondered if she had any previous on camera experience. She nixed that idea, saying

“I have absolutely zero experience doing videos! I was like in the room moving furniture and thinking: Where do I even put the camera? " she laughed "I had no idea! While we were in the bubble they asked me to do this video, and I was: Sure, not a problem. I did the first one and they said that was really good, can you do two more for us? I think it just comes from me working with athletes as an athletic trainer in the medical field. When I work at the clinic, I’m used to just explaining things, and I’ve had to do some of the stretches so many times. I’m big on teaching correct posture with stretching, where you need to be, little social cues. Just kind of so you know where your body should be. I’ve just been working with athletes so long I’ve and I’ve been explaining some of these things. Maybe not the specific exercise or stretches, but I’ve been explaining different things to athletes for so long. I just think it’s one of those things that was just kind of another day at the office for me, explaining how to do something correctly. Luckily I didn’t stutter or do anything too bad on the videos, That was the thing I was most worried about. I was like: Oh my gosh! I can’t mess up, I can’t do that, got to get it right the first time! Those videos are all first takes, I wanted to do it once and get it going and get it over with!” she laughed."I didn’t want to be there all day, and sometimes I can nitpick myself. So no nitpicking myself. If I choke up once or twice that’s OK. Because I know if I redo it I’m going to choke up again! So yeah, it comes from me just doing it all the time when I was working, doing my clinical rotations at the college or high school or at the orthopedic clinic. I’m just used to explaining exercises and stretches to people. And, explaining it in a way that they understand. Because I know not everyone’s in the medical field, so I try to keep it simple super.”

We mentioned previously the company Grace and Shayne run, 14/94 Hockey. We asked Grace to fill us in with what else they have going on this summer. She replied

“We have a lot of exciting stuff going on at 14/94. We just had our first spring program, mostly girls, but we did have two Brick Tournament teams we put together, a boy’s 2012 and a boy’s 2013 team, so that was pretty fun. We were traveling all over, Chicago, Boston, a lot of different places. Our girls spring program was a lot of fun, we had a lot of girls come out for that which is awesome to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many girls in Ice Works, the rink we work out of in Aston, PA. I don’t think I’ve seen so many girls in one area, it was awesome. We’ve also been doing some checking clinics during the week, and we just finished up a weekend skills camp. We have a full week camp coming up July 19th thru the 22nd, and then we have another weekend camp August 20th thru 22nd. So we’ve got a few more exciting things going on. It’s just nice to be out with the kids again, running all the drills. But I will say it’s been hot outside, so the kids weren’t real happy with the off ice workouts outside! We more spots still open in the older group for our week. long camps, but we don’t have any remaining spots in the younger group. But we do have openings in the older group for the week long camp which again, is July 19th thru the 22nd. And we do have more openings for our weekend skills camp, which is August 20th to the 22nd.”

In addition to their work with 14/94, Grace and Shayne are also involved in the Little Flyers program.in Philadelphia. She explained 

"So we are both Co-Directors of the female program at Ice Works, so we take care of the Little Flyers Girl’s Program. So we’ll help running all the try-outs, get all the reams situated and help out with all the little nitty gritty stuff. And we try to get out to as many practices as we can. I am going to also be the Assistant Coach of the U14 AA Little Flyers team. And Shayne is coaching two of the Little Flyers Boy’s teams this winter. But as much as we can, we try to get out with the other age groups that we have, just so we’re mingling with the girls and they know who we are. We’re trying to be as involved as we can be with the girls so they can feel comfortable coming up to us, and talking to us.”


Grace knows about travel teams, having played with several herself coming up through the system. We wondered if she had played in Lake Placid prior to the NWHL Bubble in Season Six, and she told us

“I did once, but it was more of like a training camp. It was the summer before my 10th grade year in high school. I went to Canterbury Prep school in Connecticut for that one year. And it was the training camp for Canterbury, right before school started. So we went there as a team, and did workouts, on ice practices, all that kind of stuff. That was the one previous time I was there. But obviously, that was a little ways back now” she laughed “I was younger, so I didn’t get to explore a whole lot. I got to go in a couple of shops here and there. That was one of the things I was super bummed about was that because of Covid, even though we were in Lake Placid, we couldn’t really explore now either. But it was beautiful there. A couple of times me and some of the girls took advantage of walking to and from the rink, just to get a little fresh air. Or walking around the hotel just to get out. But it was just so beautiful. Arriving and looking out the windows, at all the perfect snow just laid down. It was really beautiful, I just wish we could have explored a little bit more. “

That was a tough situation to be in. We had lost that momentum, and it could have been a totally different game, if that game was played in Lake Placid. I don’t know exactly what the answer was, but we just couldn’t hold on in that last game. But think the outcome would have been different, totally different, if we would have played that last game in Lake Placid.”

Grace continued "The NWHL Bubble experience was interesting. I will say they did a pretty good job. I didn’t feel super-cooped up during the day once we we really got going. We either had practice or a morning skate, ate, went to practice, came back cooled down, did whatever you needed to. Then you could go back to the rink for a game or another practice. They did their best to keep us occupied with productive things to do. So I definitelt took advantage of the NormaTec recovery room, which I think was my favorite part. They had all these big lounge chairs, and you could put on the NormaTec and just relax and unwind after a practice or before a practice. I think that was probably my favorite part of the day, going to that room right before anything.”

“But I will say that night was probably the weirdest part, because you just couldn’t do a whole lot. So it was definitely weird not being able to hang out with each other or have anyone around. But they did try their best to keep us occupied doing productive things at least, like stretching or warming up. Getting a little leg stretch, with some of the girls, walking around the hotel together. Those are like the little things that helped make it a little bit more comfortable.”

Cetacean Nation was curious about how the food was and how that worked. Grace revealed

“All the food was provided by the hotel. In the beginning I would say it was a little bit of a struggle. I just think the serving sizes were relatively small, for us all being pro athletes. Working out during the day, and then skating, and we’d come home and be super hungry.” She laughed and said “I remember one time that literally as soon as they delivered it, I had to go back out and ask: Is there any way you can give me a little bit more? Because I’m hungry and I’m going to need a little bit more! But they did make adjustments, which I thought was great. Originally they were delivering it to,our door, so we weren’t going and getting it ourselves. So they changed it to a buffet style. We went in two.three, four at a time, got gloves and put our food in a to- go box and headed back upstairs. And that was a way, way better system. For one, you had a little bit better control over how much you were getting and what you were getting. They had sent us the menu originally ahead of time and you had to pick what you wanted like a month in advance. And what may have sounded good a month ago, may not sound good anymore when you’re there the day of. So them switching to the buffet style was a lot better in a lot of different aspects. So I’m glad they adjusted to that, thank goodness.”

Grace also offered some very candid perspective on what occurred on the ice in the truncated Season Six. She stated  

“I was really bummed that we couldn’t finish the whole thing in Lake Placid. Because I think we had a lot of momentum in Lake Placid and we were surprising a lot of people. We were playing hard, we were playing our kind of hockey and we were doing well. It’s hard when you’re playing those games, you’ve been training for this moment, and you get to it and then all of a sudden it’s cut short. And then, we’re unsure if we’re going to finish it out, or when is it going to be, where it’s going to be, we had no idea. We were on the edge of our seats, just waiting the whole time. We lost momentum coming off that Lake Placid trip, and the couple of weeks where we weren’t in the Bubble. And we had to go to Boston to play that last game. That was a tough situation to be in. We had lost that momentum, and it could have been a totally different game, if that game was played in Lake Placid. I don’t know exactly what the answer was, but we just couldn’t hold on in that last game. But think the outcome would have been different, totally different, if we would have played that last game in Lake Placid.”

Cetacean Nation, and the Whale we spoke to about it previously, maintain that the game vs Minnesota was a lot closer than the score indicated. Grace agreed and added

“If you think about, even looking at the Stanley Cup playoffs right now, some of those games are blowouts (Tampa 8-0 vs Islanders for example) . We obviously don’t have a seven game series to really show it, but it happens in The NHL, it happens here, it’s just one of those things. Sometimes it’s just one team is getting the bounces, one team isn’t, one team’s a little off their game. This is a circumstance where I wish we had at least a best of three series, so we could prove ourselves. To show that in a game like that, the score didn’t really reflect how the game was going. But, they capitalized on the opportunities they had, and we didn’t.”

We also asked Grace to comment on a couple of the big off season changes, the player salary increase, the National TV exposure with NBC. She said

“I think the salary increase is awesome, it’s great to see that. Not only did it increase, but it doubled. That’s just so awesome to see. I really do think the league is moving in the right direction and it’s so good we’re starting to get that recognition, we’re getting televised. I guess this is maybe one of the more outstanding things that I’ve experienced with the youth players. I can’t tell you how many kids came up to me and said: “I watched your game on TV ! Kids I coach, kids I just met. Like when I introduce myself to some new girls, they’re like: I watched you play on TV! That was pretty cool. It’s awesome that girls can say: Oh, I know who you are! I’ve watched you play, I’ve watched you on television. That just in itself is awesome.”

She added  “And it just shows not only that we are moving in the right direction, but the fact that people I don’t know, people I’ve never met before, we’re reaching those new audiences. We are reaching audiences we never reached before. And even boy’s teams that Shayne coaches, I’m having them say they were watching me, so it’s not just girls, it’s girls and boys. It’s people we know and people we don’t know. We are reaching so many people we don’t even realize, just because it was televised. One game for me, for the Whale, that I was on TV for, and I’ve had countless kids telling me they watched me. So i think that speaks volumes to how we are impacting the game, how we are impacting society with women’s hockey, you know? “

Grace on the ice in her first game in Danbury. "“When we are playing games in Danbury and I walk into that rink on game day, it feels like I belong there. I know where I’m going to warm up, I know my spot. Everybody’s got their rituals and when it comes to Danbury that’s no different. I feel this is my rink, I like to go here, this is what I do, I just feel super comfortable there.”

We finished up our interview with Grace by asking her for Five Fun Facts, and here are her responses:

Which is the favorite rink you've played in?

"Oh, there were so many of them that had different feelings. My favorite rinks to play in have been very biased. Very emotion based. it’s not really that this arena was the cleanest, or the biggest. The Sound Tigers rink in Bridgeport was a nice rink to play in. But I feel like I just have emotional connections to the rinks I like to play in. So obviously I’ll always have an emotional connection to Ice Works where I played for Neumann University. I feel like when I think of that rink, I have nothing but good memories of playing there. And now after being at Danbury for two years now, it just feels special going into that rink. Again, you go there, people know who you are, they know your name, they know you’re with the Whale. That’s a nice feeling, to walk into a building and you know the people and they know you. When we are playing games in Danbury and I walk into that rink on game day, it feels like I belong there. I know where I’m going to warm up, I know my spot. Everybody’s got their rituals and when it comes to Danbury that’s no different. I feel this is my rink, I like to go here, this is what I do, I just feel super comfortable there.A really important piece of playing, and playing well, is feeling comfortable and feeling confident. So I think Ice Works and Danbury are my two favorite rinks for that.”

How did the 14/94 Hockey color scheme come from?

"I think it was one one of those things where for one, black goes with everything. So when we were thinking of a darker color, we didn’t want navy, because we had that at Neumann, and I’d rather black over navy any day. And then when we got to the second color, it was like: Light blue is over used, forest green is over used. red too. We were thinking about the really common colors and yellow was super vibrant and bright and fun. I think yellow is a happy kind of color! No real science or strategy behind what we picked as the colors, we just wanted something that wasn’t overused but bright and a little in your face. But not in a bad way” she laughed "Just something that catches your eye, something nice and bright that draws the eye in. We didn’t think too hard on it, we just kind of went with it.”

Do you have a favorite pre game meal?  

"Actually it’s funny, but I’m the least superstitious or routinian person. So when it comes to hockey, I know some people have to do the same thing every single game. When it comes to eating, I don’t have a special thing or routine. I eat whatever I’m feeling that day, I can have anything. I know some people are like: I could never eat tacos. Or something like that. I literally could probably eat anything and be fine, unless I had something greasy or gross. But other than that, I don’t think any specific food effects how I play, so I just go with what I feel like.”

Other than getting up to Newfoundland when Covid restrictions allow, do you have any other travel plans?

“I’m going to Florida after camp Sunday, to see my family, and be there about a week. And, spend one day at Disney World probably. Shayne has never been to Harry Potter or Jurassic World, or he was very young. So I want to do Universal and all with him in one of the coming up trips. I’ve been to both, but since I’ve been there, I think they’ve redone part of Harry Potter World and part of Jurassic, I think they re-did the ride. They added a ride or two to Harry Potter World, and revamped the Jurassic Park one. I have not been there since they’ve done that. But I love going there. I’m one of those people who get super excited, almost too excited. Almost freak out in a good way, I just get super excited and giddy whenever I’m there. I just love every minute of it. But for this trip, since it’s a shorter one, we’ll do one trip to Magic Kingdom and then spend the rest of the time with my family.”

Grace has an active social media presence, especially through the Whale and 14/94, but we asked her to share something with the fans that they wouldn’t know about her.We discovered she had given us an Easter Egg in her previous reply as she revealed

"There are two movie series that I’m like obsessed with, would be the word. I can’t get enough of them. I’m a huge Harrry Potter fan, books and movies, love it, love it. And Jurassic Park. It’s a good thing Shayne likes them, if he didn’t I don’t know what we’d do! Because if I’m picking what to put on to watch, it’s going to be Harry Potter or the Jurassic Park.series, one of those two. Even in college when I’d be studying. I can’t listen to songs with words if I’m trying to focus on something. So if I was studying for a test, I couldn’t put on the radio. It would distract me because One: I would be trying to sing the song. Or Two: if it was a new song that I didn’t know the lyrics to, I’d be trying to listen to what the lyrics are. I’d get way too distracted. So if I was trying to study I would listen to movie soundtracks, usually Harry Potter or Jurassic Park. They are my go to. I will venture out and do a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, but big into those soundtracks and those movies. One of our Whale social media people asked me what was my favorite animal, and I said velociraptor. So I didn’t know if anybody was going to catch on, but no one ever asked about it.”

In closing, as she has done before, Grace made a case for bringing the NWHL to Philadelphia.  “I’m still really hoping a team in Philly pops up. I just want a team in Philly. I just want someone to come up and say: Hey, I want a team here! ! And then just do it! And I‘d be perfect to help spearhead it. Or if we did the All Star game in Philly. I think it would be great.And with me being the Director of a female hockey program, I think we could at least get most of our program to go to a game. It doesn’t even have to be an All-Star game, it could just be a regular season game. We did it in my year three, we played a regular season game in Pittsburgh. So a Connecticut Whale vs Riveters at Wells Fargo Center, that would be so simple. Both teams are close and no one has to travel that far.” 

Fins Up to that! And Fins Up once again to our Amazing #94 Grace Klienbach for sharing her thoughts and insights with the citizens of Cetacean Nation