With two game-winning goals, including the title-clinching overtime winner, it’s probably safe to say that Lacey Eden’s arrival season in the NCAA can be deemed a success. While there’s still the NCAA tournament to go, the Annapolis native has been nothing but stellar in her first season with the Wisconsin Badgers.
To think, it almost didn’t happen like this.
Eden had initially committed to Princeton University and was going to attend there this fall. The pandemic had other ideas, as the Tigers and the rest of the Ivy League shuttered down their winter sports season. Since she had never started at Princeton, she stayed home and trained with her skills coach, Russell Smith, while trying to figure out the next step. Ivy League schools don’t use Letter of Intents, so there wasn’t any “contract” to break. While she was training in Maryland, a spot at Wisconsin opened up and the rest was paperwork and logistics.
“It’s been an amazing experience so far and I’m excited for the future. Everything has been so surreal,” Eden said post-game Sunday of her choice to join Wisconsin. “Everyone accepted me on the team right away and we’ve gotta so close over the past couple of months. Everyone is so focused on the goal and it’s such a special environment to be in. There’s nothing quite like that.”
Eden started with the Naval Academy youth hockey program before moving onto the Washington Little Capitals to join their 14U and 15U AAA team, where she was teammates with London Knights defenseman Bryce Montgomery and Team Maryland forward and Maryland Black Bears tendered player Farrell Dinn.
After two years at Archbishop Spalding High School, Eden moved forward in her junior season; heading to the legendary Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Minnesota. Immediately at Shattuck, Eden thrived finishing her two years there with 75 goals and 175 points in 96 games. Going to Shattuck also allowed Eden to get noticed by the US National Teams, participating twice in the Women’s World Junior U18 Tournament, getting a silver and gold medals to her name.
While she did show up on the Badgers roster after the season started, she has left her mark in only 12 games with eight goals and 15 points in that span. That’s good enough for fifth on the team in points, tied for 11th in WCHA scoring, and tied for 2nd in rookie scoring. Also, her 1.25 points-per-game have her third in the WCHA behind teammates Daryl Watts and Sophie Shirley.
One has to think that with all the talent around her, Eden would feel at home after competing on the national stage. Eden mentioned to Katherine Fominykh of the Capital Gazette that Wisconsin was the closest thing to being on the National Team as you can get. “You still have a ton of girls who have competed nationally on this roster. Practices every day have to be prepared for that next level.”
That next level is still to be determined. Both the NWHL and PWHPA are out there, with the latter doing more of a touring system than a league per set. With the constant call for a sustainable league moving forward, it will be interesting to see how professional hockey on the women side is set up by the time Eden finishes school in three years time. The support from NHL players and team with both women’s hockey entities have started to fuel the call for something to happen to display the talent of women’s hockey in a domestic stage rather than just be all international setting.
Though, that international setting would be key for Eden, as she hopes to make it onto the US Women’s National Team for the Olympics in the future, hoping to follow fellow Marylander Hayley Skarupa in capturing a gold medal. Both Eden and Skarupa, as well as Madison Farrand, Sam Walther, and Veronika Pettey have led a great charge for the talent that is coming out of the Maryland hockey ranks and making it onto bigger stages.
For now, however, Eden and the Badgers have their sight set on something more– back-to-back National Championships. They’ll start that quest Tuesday March 16th, as the Badgers take on Providence College in the quarterfinal round before the Frozen Four at the end of that week.