Bray Ketchum of the New York Riveters played her college hockey with the Yale Bulldogs and was a standout performer for Yale from 2007 to 2011. In 117 games with the Bulldogs Ketchum scored 41 goals and 43 assists while being an outstanding two-way player. It's no wonder why she made the jump to the CWHL and joined the Boston Blades after her senior year at Yale. Ketchum played three seasons, from 2011 to 2014, with the Blades and won the Clarkson Cup alongside current Riveters teammate Janine Weber in 2015 while scoring 4 points in 20 games with the Blades.
Prior to joining the Blades Ketchum was named to the U-22 Team USA roster in 2010, making her one of the few Riveters with experience playing with Team USA. There's good reason why Ketchum is considered to be a part of the Riveters' leadership group, she has clearly experienced a lot of success in her hockey career.
Ketchum was signed by the New York Riveters on August 17th. Her two-way play and exceptional penalty killing makes her a tremendous fit for the blue-collar work ethic that Chad Wiseman has made clear is the defining character trait of New York's NWHL franchise.
Bray Ketchum was kind enough to agree to do an interview with me recently. Let's waste no more time and get to know #17 on the New York Riveters a little bit better!
: You were born in Brussels, Belgium?
Yes. All of my siblings were actually born abroad. We only lived in Belgium for a few years until moving to the U.S.
MM: You played both hockey and lacrosse at Yale with the Bulldogs and are apparently a pretty good golfer. Has athletics always been a big part of your life?
I grew up playing a lot of different sports. I guess having three brothers will do that to you. My older sister would always try to get me to play dolls, but I wanted no part of it. I was definitely a tomboy.
My brothers got me into hockey at a young age. We would play street hockey for hours and I was somehow always forced to be the goalie. Lacrosse was also a big sport in our town. I started when I was in second grade and played travel through high school. When I got to high school, I played field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse. I knew I wanted to play hockey in college but I began to really love lacrosse and it was always in the back of my mind. I'm glad I got to play for one year, but if I did it again I would play all four years.
Golf was always a fun sport for our family, but it was only in the past few years that I got really into it. It is by far the most frustrating sport of all time, but when you're playing well and with friends or family, it's the best!
MM: How old were you when you first stepped onto the ice?
I was five or six years old when I first skated.
MM: How would you define your role on the team?
I like to think of myself as a hard worker and a playmaker. My skating has always been a strong part of my game as well.
MM: Were there any players that you tried to emulate and paid particularly close attention to as a young hockey player?
Angela Ruggiero was always one of my favorite players to watch. She was so powerful and had so much poise on the ice.
Ruggiero was a 2015 HHOF Inductee.
MM: In 117 career games with the Yale Bulldogs you scored 84 points in an exceptional college career. Has offense always been a big part of your game?
I was actually a defensemen until my sophomore year of high school. My coach decided he was going to switch me to forward and I loved it. At Yale, I played with some great players and was fortunate enough to have some successful seasons.
MM: You're a board member of the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, for those that might not know what can you tell us about the Foundation?
Mandi Schwartz was a teammate and friend at Yale who passed away in April 2011 after a three-year battle with Leukemia. The Mandi Schwartz Foundation seeks to honor Mandi's life and legacy by helping others in her name. Events such as the Yale Women's Hockey White Out for Mandi Game, the Yale Bone Marrow Drive, and the Run for Mandi have been successful in sharing Mandi's story and inspiring thousands to join the Bone Marrow registry. To this day, over 24 matches have been found at drives in Mandi's name.
Mandi was an inspiration to her family, teammates, friends, coaches and even those who did not know her. Her story is powerful. She has had an incredible impact on my life and continues to inspire me every day. She is the reason I am wearing #17 for the New York Riveters.
MM: You lifted the Clarkson Cup over your head last season with the Boston Blades in the CWHL in your second season with the team. What did you learn as a player from that historic season with the Blades?
We had a special team last year. I learned a lot watching and playing with some of the best players in the world. I hadn't won a championship since High School so lifting that trophy over my head was an incredible feeling.
MM: When did you know you were going to join the NWHL?
When I found out in April about this league I was very interested. It took a few months to get a better understanding for what was happening, but by the summer it was pretty clear that the interest was high.
MM: In late October you were one of the New York Riveters to visit Kingsbridge Heights classrooms with New York Rangers legend Mark Messier in an effort to educate students about hockey. What was that experience like?
I am interested in education so that experience was awesome. The kids were excited and eager to learn and Mark did a great job of introducing the game. The Kingsbridge project is an incredible addition to that community and I'm excited for the opportunity that these children have.
MM: What does it mean to you to know that you have and will inspire young girls to pick up a hockey stick for the first time?
It's been a pretty humbling experience thus far. I still get chills thinking about our first game and what Dani Rylan has accomplished since April. Knowing that young girls can now dream of becoming professional hockey players one day is awesome. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
MM: You've said that it was easy to make the decision to play for the Riveters because it meant being close to your old "stomping grounds" and your hometown in Connecticut. What does it mean to you to be playing for a professional New York sports franchise when you grew up a New York Rangers fan?
I couldn't be happier playing here. New York is a special place and it has been great being close to family and friends. As a New York fan, I was psyched to join the Riveters. The Islanders and the Rangers have both been very supportive to our team and I'm excited for the future.
MM: Do you have a celebration in mind for when you score your first NWHL goal?
No, but there is nothing I love more than goal celebrations with teammates, so either way it will be fun!
Ketchum scoring in the Riveters' preseason.
Ketchum beating Jessie Vetter of the Whitecaps in the preseason during a shootout.
MM: What are your thoughts on living in Brooklyn thus far?
I love it. It has such a different feel than NYC, but close enough that you can have the best of both worlds.
MM: What is Bray Ketchum doing when she's not playing wing for the New York Riveters?
Right now I am working at Soul Cycle. Ultimately, I want to work in education. I was a preschool teacher last year in Boston. When I'm not at work or the rink, you can usually find me with my friends or family, exploring restaurants, working out or hanging with my dogs.
MM: Is there anything you'd like to say to New York Riveters fans?
You guys have been awesome this season!! We love your support and can't thank you enough!
A huge thank you to Bray Ketchum for taking the time to do this interview. You can get to know Bray even better by following her on twitter at @bdk27.
You can also support Bray by picking up her jersey at the NWHL shop!
Thanks for reading. Let's go Riveters!