Blake Bolden is back in the National Women’s Hockey League.
The 27-year-old two-time NWHL All-Star defenseman from Ohio signed with the Buffalo Beauts Wednesday after playing last season for HC Lugano in Switzerland.
“My decision was made pretty quickly,” Bolden told The Buffalo News at the city’s HarborCenter Wednesday. “I had been going back and forth on where I wanted to play next season. I had no idea, and it just felt right about Buffalo. I think it’s going to be a great decision, a great move for me.”
Bolden made the move to Switzerland to get a taste of international hockey and cure a case of wanderlust after she didn’t receive an invite from USA Hockey to attend training camp for the U.S. women’s team that competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in February.
“I just wanted a fresh start, something I’ve never done before, a new experience,” Bolden told me last November before heading to Lugano. “I’ve played in every league I could possibly play in North America. I didn’t think it was time for me to quit and I really wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and experience new things and be able to travel in a basically different environment.”
The former Boston College team captain responded by tallying 16 goals and 11 assists in 20 regular season games for Lugano in 2017-18. She added a goal and 3 assists in six playoff contests.
Bolden is a trailblazer in women’s hockey. She was the first African-American to play in the NWHL and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She was an All-Star and won the Clarkson Cup in 2014-15 with the CWHL’s Boston Blades.
She hoisted the NWHL’s Isobel Cup championship trophy in 2015-16 season and earned All-Star honors with the Boston Pride.
Beauts General Manager Nik Fattey said signing Bolden was a no-brainer.
Blake Bolden 👉 Buffalo Beaut
The #IsobelCup champion defender, is coming to Buffalo for the 18-19 season! pic.twitter.com/S4X1PnBWnZ
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) August 15, 2018
“Great player. Big shot, Really good reports on being a great teammate and a hard worker…,” Fattey told The Buffalo News. “It just seemed like a good fit.”
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey. And download the Color of Hockey podcast from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play.