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Kitchener's Loren Gabel looking for more hardware in Boston

Gabel leads the Boston Pride, the PHF's top team, in scoring in her first season with the team
Boston Pride forward Loren Gabel during a game in Boston, MA on Jan. 14, 23

Don't look now, but the Boston Bruins aren't the only hockey juggernaut in the Massachusetts capital.

The Boston Pride have collected 11 wins in 13 games this year in the Premier Hockey Federation, a top women's professional hockey league in North America.

And leading the way is Kitchener native Loren Gabel.

The 25-year-old is playing a big role in her first season with the team, leading the Pride and entire league with 19 points in 11 games played.

She signed a two-year contract with the Pride in October.

"It's been a huge help," she said of the welcoming atmosphere provided by her teammates.

"Everyone's just so great, and the coaching staff is amazing. It's been a really rewarding experience being a part of a different team in a different league. It's been amazing so far, and I'm excited to keep going and hopefully bring back an Isobel Cup."

The Pride have built a standard of excellence in the PHF. 

One of the original four teams of what was then known as the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) in 2015 – the league was rebranded the PHF ahead of the 2021-22 season – the team has won three Isobel Cups overall, including championships in the last two seasons.

Gabel is hoping to add an Isobel Cup to her already loaded resume.

She is Clarkson University's all-time leading scorer, a two-time NCAA Division I national champion, and the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner in 2019 as the best player in NCAA women's hockey.

Gabel has also experienced success internationally, representing Canada at tournaments such as the 2018 Nations Cup and the 2019 IIHF Women's World Championship.

The offensively-minded Gabel has benefited from learning from head coach Paul Mara, a veteran of 12 National Hockey League seasons, including the Boston Bruins, who have an affiliation with the Pride.

"He's a really good coach, very smart," Gabel said. "He obviously instills a lot of confidence in his players, and I think that's definitely important for everyone to be at their best. He obviously has a lot of knowledge from playing in the NHL, and it's pretty awesome to be able to play under a coach who has played in the NHL."

"I think (Gabel)'s exceeded our expectations in what she's been doing," Mara added.

"The great thing is I still think she can be even better, which is awesome for us. It's been great to have her here. Her energy in the room and on the ice is great, and she's always looking to get better each and every day, which is awesome for a coach."

In particular, Mara pointed out how hard Gabel can be on herself, in a good way.

"She wants to be the best player on the ice," he said. "I think (her competitiveness is) the intangible that sets her apart from a lot of players, and makes her really elite."

Gabel, who has drawn comparisons to Vancouver Canucks star Elias Pettersson and Toronto forward William Nylander for her speed and shot, puts in a lot of hours.

Mid-season, she's in the gym three times a week, takes part in full-team practices three times a week as well, with a couple optional skates to boot. This, on top of games once or twice a week, and the travel that comes with it.

This work ethic has brought Gabel to great heights, and she's become a role model for young women, something not lost on her.

She had her own role models she looked up to growing up, including Canadian national team members Meghan Agosta and Laura Fortino, who have since become really good friends of hers.

"I still look up to those players," Gabel said. "It's a great experience, and very rewarding when you have those little girls come out to your games and hold signs up for you. It's just a great feeling, overall. I would do anything to help anyone get to where they want to be at the next level."

The Pride play a two-game set in Montreal this coming Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 21 and 22.

Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Mark is a graduate of Canadore College in North Bay in 2011, and his decade-long career has taken him to a number of spots across Ontario in radio, digital and television broadcasting.
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