On January 6, 2024, a record-breaking 13,361 attendees filled an arena in Minnesota to watch their new women’s hockey team trounce visitors from Montreal. The game made history as the biggest crowd on record to turn out to watch women’s hockey—and it happened less than a week into the start of the newly formed Professional Women’s Hockey League.
Kaleigh Fratkin was excited to see it happen. She wasn’t in Minnesota that day, instead preparing for her own matchup as part of Boston’s PWHL team. (As a new league, none of the teams have monikers or logos yet.) But Fratkin—possibly the PWHL’s only Canadian Jewish player, who grew up in Burnaby, B.C.—has spent more than a decade playing the sport. In previous leagues, she’s broken records as a leading scorer among defenders, leader in penalty minutes and championship winner. With Boston, she brings veteran wisdom and grit to a league that’s already made a huge international splash—but needs to keep momentum going to avoid a collapse and cultivate broader interest from audiences. Fratkin joins The CJN’s sports podcasters to pull the curtain back on what it’s been like as a pioneer player in this new movement.
And before that, hosts Gabe and Jamie catch you up on the latest news in Jewish sports, including a late-breaking relevation that Israel has been indefinitely removed from the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the announcement a new Netflix docuseries that could shed light into the Jewish conversion of NBA All Star Domantas Sabonis.
Menschwarmers is hosted by James Hirsh and Gabe Pulver, and produced and edited by Michael Fraiman. Our intro music is by Coby Lipovitch, and our outro music is “Organ Grinder Swing” by chēēZ π. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. Follow the Menschwarmers on Twitter @menschwarmers or TikTok @menschwarmers. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast or donating to The CJN.