When we chatted recently with our rookie Whale defender Hannah Bates from Saint Cloud State University in MInnesota, the first thing we talked about was her name. Specifically, the  similarity of her name with teammate Hanna Beattie created some speculation as to whether or not our “new Hannah” had a nickname. Turns out she does, but not one that will make for much of a,difference in differentiating our two blue liners, as she informed us  “Well my coaches call me Batesy, and some of my teammates, but I would never say that myself! It’s like a common hockey thing to add the “Y” at the end,. So a lot of them call me Batesy, or HB, it depends on what phase of life you got to know me in, I guess. So my hockey teammates call me Batesy, but whatever they want." she laughed.  We reckon we will leave it to Whale play by player announcer Phil Giubileo to sort out those calls with our defense corps! 

We next asked Hannah to tell us how and where Draft Night unfolded for, and she told us 

“Right now I’m in Michigan, a half hour south of Detroit (Trenton,MI), staying with my parents at the moment, for the summer, until I head out to Connecticut. On Draft Night I was at home, with my Mom, my Dad and my sister and we were all watching in my basement. So, I had talked to the Whale before, so I knew it was going to happen but I just didn’t know when. So after the first two picks, I knew we didn’t have a third pick, so I was like: OK, hopefully we are getting there! Then it happened in the fourth round, and I was OK, cool! Now we’re set, now I can take a breath! " she chuckled.

We also asked Hannah when it was that she began to start thinking about leer hockey life after SCSU, and she explained

“So, in the early spring. I don’t remember exactly when, we found out we did have an extra year of college eligibility. Initially I was thinking like: Oh, I could do my MBA, and was thinking about potentially going back. But then in terms of school, I decided I wanted  to go somewhere else. So I’m currently doing my MBA at Wayne State University, which is in Detroit. So I’m doing just online classes, and I’ll do online in the fall. But school wise, I wanted to just do something else, so where could I still  play? Because obviously with the Covid, I felt it wasn’t a very fulfilling end, since we only played nineteen games, instead of our normal thirty-seven. So I was like: Man, I still want play. So I started looking at other options, and that’s when I reached out to Kayla Friesen, because we had played together for two years at Saint Cloud. So I just started talking to her about it, and her experience, and she had a lot of positive things to say. Then Laura Brennan reached out to me, which actually caught me off guard. She texted me, and I had thought that Freeze was just going to give me Laura’s contact info. But then she messaged me and I was like: OK, this is happening, that’s cool!  She laughed

So with all of the challenges during the pandemic,we wondered how Hannah’s training is going at this point. She responded “It’s actually going really well. Obviously last year going into the season, it was really difficult. I know in Michigan all the rinks were pretty much shut down, and it was hard to find ice. I don’t know if it was allowed or not but I skated a few times at least. So that was super difficult. But this year the summer has been a lot easier. I am working full time right now, so I’ve been skating at 6:00 AM with some of my old hockey friends. So it’s been nice to be able to skate this summer, so that’s going pretty well. And in the spring, I did spring training with my team at Saint Cloud. So even though I wasn’t still playing there, I talked to my coach, and still did some spring training with them. It’s been nice being able to skate, because last summer I had been barely able to skate, and I wondered how that would play out. But obviously, it ended up just fine, we had a while to get ready before we played games. But I’m feeling much better about this year, being able to come in and be at the top of my game right away.”

Hanna was a point a game scorer for West Coast Selects in their 2013 International Tournament, squad which included fellow Whale DraftbPick Grace Middleton.

So dialing it back to the beginning, we asked Hannah how she got her start in hockey in Trento. She told us

“So my sister played, but going back before that, we have two neighbors who were boys who played hockey. And my sister was their age, and she started playing because they were. And then when I started, it was with figure skating when I was three. This was super brief, a super brief stint " she chuckled. " And then before my first ice show, my Dad went and bought hockey skates. So we had to pull white covers over them, so I was about to have my first ice show, and you can’t be wearing hockey skates out there!" she laughed.

"So after that ice show I switched to hockey. I played boy’s hockey for the city of Trenton. We’re a small town, but we’re all about hockey! So I played boy’s hockey until 10U, when I switched to girls with Victory Honda, which is one of the AAA teams. In Michigan there’s not too much high school hockey, you pretty much just play AAA. I mean, they do have some teams, but the AAA teams are definitely way more competitive. So I played for Victory Honda for several years, then I switched over to Little Caesars for 16U, which I played for three years. And then I played my last year at Belle Tire, because that was closer to home and everyone was making the move over there. And I was like: I’m in! So I did that my last year, and went to Saint Cloud from there.”

"I also played with West Coast Selects.  I think about 2012, I did my first tournament with them,. And the first year I got to play with them again and we went to the Czech Republic and played. And then I did it a second year and we went to Sweden, and my third year we went to Budapest, Hungary. That was super cool, I was pretty young, and that was just an unreal experience, going to play over there. I believe we won the championship every year that I played. And it’s actually pretty funny, because some of the girls I played against over there, I ended up,playing against in the WCHA. And actually, one of the Finnish girls I played against, was on Saint Cloud last year. After like a month of being together, I was like: Why are we already Facebook friends? Then we started talking, and we had met each other when we were like 12 years old! So it was super cool, and really funny that happened."

One thing you might already know about  Hannah is that as a young teen she became a YouTube sensation. She was attacked by a Russian girl and  hit over the head with a stick.. The remarkable video, which you can view at the link below, went viral.


That's just part of the story, and Hannah gave us the backstory. She told us

"That video is actually really funny. That’s always my favorite Fun Fact! So what happened was nothing crazy. I had just skated on the ice, I shot the puck, and I didn’t do anything crazy for the rebound. I was just skating away. She first two handed me in the side (cross check) so you’ll see (in the video) I’m kind of kneeling a little bit, and then she swung it over my head, and I did not even know what was going on. But I didn’t get concussed or anything, I was completely fine. But then my best friend tackled her, and the Russian got kicked out of the tournament. There were only a few minutes left in the game and I think I was a little distraught, but I was good. So that was pretty wild, but that accidentally got filmed by my best friend’s Grandma. She had just accidentally turned on her IPad, and that is what she caught! It was super crazy " she laughed "And I actually still have the broken stick in my basement, so it’s funny.”

Hannah had another sport she was quite successful at throughout  her high school years, and that was softball. She was a four time letter winner for the Trenton High Trojans. We asked her about that and told us “I played softball pretty much my whole life. I started in coach pitch, and my dad was my coach. And after that first year he said that I’m never doing coach pitch again, so we moved up to 10U. So I played my whole life, I played travel and also played four years with my high school team. My coaches did used to get a bit mad at me because I would miss for hockey. But I have to say hockey was my favorite. I didn’t tell them at the time, but I knew it" she laughed. "I pitched, it was a lot of fun.  In softball I did pitch quite a bit, since it’s the natural motion they had me throw quite a bit. But when I wasn’t throwing, I played outfield. Not a big infielder, other than pitching, so outfield."

We asked how Hannah learned to windmill pitch. not an easy skill to master, and what her pitch selection was. She explained “Again, my sister did" she laughed " So she did it first, but my Dad taught me. And then I went for lessons, yeah, my whole life, I loved my curve ball and I loved the screwball, those were my my two favorites. But umm, I did used to hit a few people, I have to say. I wasn’t sad when I did hit them" she laughed " because I did like to just rip it in there. So yeah, that used to happen."

I loved my curve ball and I loved the screwball, those were my my two favorites. But umm, I did used to hit a few people, I have to say. I wasn’t sad when I did hit them" she laughed " because I did like to just rip it in there. So yeah, that used to happen."

So looking at the next step in Hannah's career, we asked how she came to choose Saint Cloud to continue her hockey and education. She explained

 “So the head coach at the time tha I committed was Eric Rud. He’s coaching with Miami University (Ohio) men’s team now. So (current Head Coach) Steve MacDonald was the D coach, and had seen me a tournament around here, maybe in Taylor, Michigan. And I actually was a pretty late commit, it was October of my senior year. And one of my best friends, Megan Roe, had already committed to Saint Cloud, so I don’t know if he was there watching her and then saw me, I’m not sure what happened. But I started talking to them, and after talking to Steve, I talked to Eric and he was just super friendly and excited about the program and the direction we were going. And I had also been to Saint Cloud for National Camps previously."

"So I ended up picking them because they seemed super personable, super friendly and it felt like the right fit for me. And I also knew that Saint Cloud isn’t a super big school, but they’re also not tiny, so it was a nice middle ground. I don’t think I’m necessarily one who would do very well in a huge school. It’s kind of nice when I know more people and stuff. So whenever I was around campus, I was always seeing people I knew. So that was definitely something I ended up really loving about Saint Cloud.”

We also asked Hannah tell us a little about her major field of study at Saint Cloud, which was listed as psychology. But she revealed “So actually, that was like a little bit old. I ended up majoring in Business Management, and then my minor was in Psychology. So that’s why I’m getting my MBA now. So with the Business Msnagement degree I had a concentration in HR, and the job that I’m currently doing is working in HR. So that’s directly aligned. I’m doing my MBA first of all because I really like school" she chuckled. "I’m not a big test gal, but I like learning. I don’t know if what I’m doing now will be my long term thing, I’m still trying to figure that out. So I’m still trying to figure of which concentrations I want to do with my MBA, I’m working on that.”

We also asked Hannah about her favorite moments at Saint Cloud.and she offered these memories.

"I do have two favorite hockey moments! One was we were playing on Hockey Day In MInnesota, my freshman year. And we were playing MInnesota-Duluth and that was just a super cool experience. We were playing outside, in Saint Cloud, and before that, I had never heard of Hockey Day In MInnesota. Obviously I’m from Michigan, and I’m like: What Is this whole thing about? Then we started talking about it more, and it was such a cool experience. The weather was super nice that day, and we ended up winning in a shootout! So that was awesome!. My second one was also a shootout, and it was beating MInnesota, also freshman year I believe. But I don’t think we had ever beaten them before and that was so fun, super cool. It was a shootout, and it was just really cool to beat them."

We noted that Hannah had accumulated roughly the same amount of penalty minutes in her senior season as she had her first three, so we asked her how that came to be. She explained, laughing “ They really liked me in the box this year! So I guess we’ll start with this. Two years ago Molly Engstrom (former Whale Captain) became our D coach. And she is like really cool. But she always wants us to be aggressive, but not in the penalty box aggressive way. In general, I feel like the WCHA is pretty physical, and so that’s just how I try to play. Obviously I’m a smaller defender, but I make  sure that people aren’t messing with my goalie or doing “things,” I’m just super protective of A) my goalie, and B) my teammates, so I did not get those penalties intentionally. But it’s just like the way that I was playing this year. What I’m trying to say" she laughed " is that none of it was one purpose. I am aggressive, I want the puck, I want  to get the puck up the ice, and sometimes you get tangled up, and sometimes you maybe get a little too aggressive, but that’s just how I was playing this year. But next year I would love to tone down the penalties and keep the aggressiveness. So that’s what we’ll be looking to do. And ever since when I was in 10U, sometimes we would only have one goalie, so they were always saying: Protect your goalie! So I think that’s kind of stayed with me forever, where I’m like: NOBODY is touching my goalie! So I guess that might play into it a bit.”  Fins Up to that mindset! 

Hannah in action on the ice for her Saint Cloud State Huskies, wearing the Aliernate Captain "A" Photo courtesy of SCSU Athletics

When we had the opportunity to chat with her college coach Molly Engstrom recently,  she had this to say about Hannah: “I really liked working with her for two years. She got better, which is not a crazy thought. She put the work in, she was coachable, and she had the desire to learn. And she cared. She cared about her own development, and she cared about the team. So it was just a lot of fun to work with her, I would say. I’m going to miss her next year! Hannah’s not tall, but she can get to where she needs to be. A lot of times it’s harder for bigger players to play against smaller players, it’s just leverage. You can’t get under them, you know what I mean? They don’t take up as much room with their stick and their size, but they can get into spaces quickly and easily. So Hannah will be fine in terms of size, just like Shannon Doyle.”

So we asked Hannah to breakdown the rest of her game for us and she gave is this self scouting report “So I think like especially over the past four years, especially playing against the Minnesota’s and Wisconsin and all, one of the biggest things has been just keeping it simple. If you’re trying to dangle arounfd them, there’s just no way that’s going to work. So just keeping it simple, moving the picks up the ice. I do like to be on the offensive, Indo like to shoot. But I will make sure first that there’s not going to be any turnaround, where they’ll come back at us right away. Because that’s one of the things over  the past five years, they’re constantly coming back at you. So I’m going to defend first, but I do like to get up there and score some goals, so I am  looking to do  more of that this year.”

 As we wrapped things up with Hannah , we discussed the  dates for the Season Seven , and the preseason game with LIU. she added “One of my best friends from home actually goes to LIU, so right when I saw that I texted  here: We’ll, here we go!" She  laughed . “I’m just super excited to be able to play for the Whale next year, and I’m excited to hopefully create some offense and get us going in the right direction. Hopefully we will be able to compete even more this year, and I’m just excited to get after it!” And all of the citizens of Cetacean Nation are excited as well to see Hannah Bates take her aggressive attitude to the ice for the Pod. And we thank Hannah for her enlightening and entertaining comments and sharing some of her Amazing story with the fans. Find Up to that! 

Hannah’s signing was officially announced by three Whale on 8/12/21.