The National Women’s Hockey League is a family affair for the Laing sisters. Coincidentally, the Boston Pride have had a Laing sister on its team every other year, beginning with the NWHL’s inaugural 2015 season.
Forward Denna Laing, the oldest, played for Boston in 2015, and won an Isobel Cup, the league’s championship game. Goaltender Brianna played for the Pride in 2017, and youngest sister, Lexie, played her first year with the Pride during a historic 23-1 season en-route to the championship game before it was canceled because of the global pandemic. Lexie, a Harvard alumna, scored 27 points in her first season and also earned a spot on the NWHL All-Star roster.
“Oh, you think you can get rid of a Laing. But then you get one right back the next year. We just don’t go away,” Lexie Laing joked to Sports Illustrated.
The Laing presence on Boston Pride began in the inaugural 2015-2016 season when Denna made her professional debut. Following her time as captain of the Princeton hockey team, Denna was set to have an exceptional career until she suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury during the 2016 Outdoor Women’s Classic. She was paralyzed in her legs with limited movement in her arms.
Denna’s accident did not mark the end of her time with Boston Pride, but rather began the storied relationship for her and her two sisters with the team. Lexie Laing helped the Pride reach an impeccable 18-0-0 record on a special day for the team: “Denna Day,” a fundraiser for Denna to help with medical expenses.
“I just think it speaks a lot to the Pride organization that she’s still involved year after year,” Lexie Laing said to Sports Illustrated. “They make a conscious effort to bring (Denna) into everything they do.”
Not only does the Pride actively include Denna, but all players in the NWHL wear Denna’s No. 24 on their helmets. She serves as an inspiration for many and continues to forge on with her recovery, most recently earning her driver’s license with an accessible van, according to U.S. College Hockey Online.
Even within her own family, Denna is a role model. When sister Brianna Laing signed with Boston in 2017, she felt a sense of pride.
“Hockey has been a big part of my life and my family’s life, so I am proud to continue our legacy,” Brianna told Double G Sports. It is extra special because it is also a way to honor Denna, whom I think about every day and is such an inspiration to me and so many other people. The first time I wear that Boston Pride jersey with ‘LAING’ on the back will be incredible.”
Lexie Laing echoed similar sentiments upon her arrival in Boston, and team is happy to have an offensive-minded player like her contribute. The Boston Herald reported that she began the season with six points in her first five games and was the fourth-leading scorer on her undefeated team. Laing credits her offensive prowess and tough mentality to Denna.
“Like with my sister — you never know how many games you have left,” she told the NWHL. “I just always try to give it my all every single game … I’m just living every moment to the fullest.”