Chief Sports Editor
When thinking about Crusader hockey success stories, it’s impossible to not mention Allison Attea. Since her graduation two years ago, she has been living her longtime dream of playing professional hockey. And, even better, she’s doing it with her hometown PHF team: the Buffalo Beauts, who drafted her in the fourth round (19th overall) in the 2021 PHF (then known as the NWHL) Draft. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Allison about her time at Holy Cross, as well as her recent success.
To start the conversation, I asked her what drew her to Holy Cross in the first place, and for her, it wasn’t just one thing. She spoke fondly about the school’s strong academics and the smaller student body, as well as the fact that the Crusaders would be moving to Hockey East her sophomore year. “That was my goal, to play Division 1 hockey,” according to Attea. “Holy Cross just seemed to be the perfect fit for me all around.” Her dream to play Division 1 hockey really took shape in high school, when she transitioned from Buffalo’s Sacred Heart to the Nichols School to better prepare her for a collegiate career. She credits Nichols as the main catalyst in her development, as she was able to skate and practice daily.
Attea joined the team at a crucial time and experienced the transition from D3 to D1 firsthand. For her, the biggest difference between the divisions was the speed of play. Attea recalled that “Everyone was just so much faster, so much stronger, and that’s when we knew we had to step it up and focus on things like that to compete with these girls.”
Attea was one of the unfortunate seniors whose season was affected by COVID-19. But, unlike some other programs, she was able to get some playing time during the pandemic, as Holy Cross let the women’s team back on campus early. The season wasn’t normal whatsoever (less games against a handful of other Hockey East opponents), but it still happened. “I’m just happy we got to play at all,” said Attea.
At the conclusion of that aforementioned senior year, Attea was drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 PHF Draft by the Buffalo Beauts. “After senior year ended, I realized that I didn’t want it to be over,” said Attea. “I signed up as a free agent in the PHF and the Buffalo Beauts reached out immediately, and said they wanted to draft me. I was speechless – that is every kid’s goal. My goal as a child was to play at the highest level, and that just came true. And, being able to play in my hometown of Buffalo, I’m able to look up in the stands and see my family, my friends, old teammates and coaches, even girls growing up playing for the teams I used to play for. That is an experience I will always cherish.”
Attea continued on about the realization of her childhood dream: “Even having the ability to play professional hockey as a woman in sport, in a league that is still growing right now, it really is just a dream come true.” She repeated the phrase “a dream come true” time and time again, which seems like the perfect phrase to describe Attea’s path to the PHF. But, of course, playing any sport professionally is much different than playing collegiately. “Every player is so talented individually; you can’t take a shift off, because every player is able to capitalize on any opportunity they get,” Attea said. “The difference is having four full lines that are all so talented. The PHF has grown from last season to this season, and it will continue to grow as the talent continues to grow.”
Attea will certainly continue to be a part of that growth. In her first season as a Beaut, she was described as one of the team’s better defensive players, garnering great praise from head coach Rhea Coad for her aggressive playstyle and hard shot. Specifically, she continued to build on her knack for blocking shots, something she excelled in during her time at Holy Cross. While she didn’t play the whole season due to injury, she showed enough to play another year in Buffalo, and has continued to develop her aggressive, defense-first playstyle. She certainly has a bright future ahead of her in the PHF.
To finish, I asked if Attea wanted to give anybody a shoutout, and she heaped endless praise on the coaching staff at Holy Cross, specifically Katie LaChapelle, Meredith Roth, and Devan Taylor. “They really helped grow my game from joining as a freshman to a senior. I don’t think my playing abilities are even comparable between those four years. They supported me, helped me build my confidence, and helped me get to where I am today.”
Attea still has fans in the Crusader locker room, with many players keeping in touch with her. The last thing she told me was “I love that team, and I love Holy Cross.” Even as a professional athlete, Attea continues to bleed purple day in and day out. Her future is bright, and we will continue to follow her journey no matter where it takes her.
The Spire would like to thank Paul Krotz & Josh Milne of the PHF, Buffalo Beauts General Manager Nate Oliver, and Allison Attea’21 for making this interview possible.
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