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Burnaby's Kaleigh Fratkin signs one-year deal with PWHL Boston

The veteran defender wasn't drafted to the new league, but her experience and leadership made her a lock to stay in Beantown for another season.
Burnaby's Kaleigh Fratkin (2nd right) listens to the trainer during a camp session with Boston's new PWHL franchise. The 31-year-old signed as a free agent on Nov. 7, 2023.

"Fratty is back."

Boston has been good to Kaleigh Fratkin as she's become a household name for women's hockey in the city for the last six years.

The Burnaby defender, as a free agent, recently signed a one-year contract with the (still unnamed) Boston franchise of the newly formed Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL).

Her name wasn't called during the six-round inaugural PWHL draft, but was invited to Boston's training camp that started on Thursday, Nov. 16.

"I'm super excited to be back in the city for another season....I can't wait to get started," said Fratkin in a video message to local hockey fans.

She officially put pen to paper on Nov. 7 as the team's first-ever free agent signing, and 11th out of possible 20 standard player agreements available.

The 31-year-old's stint in the northeast goes as far as back as the 2010-11 season, which was the first of a four-year career with Boston University.

"It's a feeling kind of, when you're playing for a professional team in the city, everyone really supports their athletes," said Fratkin on the scope of playing pro sports in Boston.

"The fans welcome winners; they want winners and their that competitive. The fan base is very welcoming."

Boston was one of six cities that won the bid to make up the first-ever standings for the PWHL.

The new top league for women's hockey in North America was formed this past summer after a total of three leagues folded between 2019 and 2023. It's backed by the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises.

Fratkin believes the most exciting aspect is that the best players in the world can finally play in a single spot.

"Day in and day out within your practice environment and then the games that you're playing, you're playing against the best players and I think it's going to create a long-term environment where players can continue on playing professionally, be the best of the best and I'm really excited for that."

Fratkin, a Burnaby Central Secondary grad, was a three-time all-star in the former Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) with the Boston Pride, a two-time league defender of the year and and led the league in defensive scoring in 2016 and 2021.

She was also a two-time Isobel Cup champion — the PHF's top prize — and has a silver medal to her name with Team Canada from the 2009 Under-18 Women's World Hockey Championship, playing alongside Marie-Philip Poulin, Brianne Jenner, Melodie Daoust and Jamie Lee Rattray.

And those legends of the game are also going to play in the new PWHL, which Fratkin said will be one of the aspects fans of the game can look forward to.

"I think they're going to get a glimpse into not only the on-ice product, but I think the off-ice product as well. There's a lot of unique athletes in the women's hockey landscape that welcomes fans....I think it gives them a place to really get excited to meet the players."

PWHL Boston, as well as the other five franchises in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Minnesota and New York, are currently hosting training camps and will eventually cut the rosters down to 20.

Puck drop on the first PWHL season is set for some time in January with 24 games on the schedule. The goal is to start the second season in November 2024.