From 2012-16, Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga was a consistent part of the Boston University defensive group. Ribeirinha-Braga provided a strong puck-moving presence for the Terriers, scoring 54 points (6 g, 48 a) over the course of 142 career games in those four seasons.
When Ribeirinha-Braga graduated and left the Terriers, however, her playing career effectively ended. That changed in September. After four seasons away from organized hockey, Ribeirinha-Braga elected to turn pro and join the PWHPA.
In September, she tried out for the New Hampshire Regional Training Hub, making the roster and settling in to a top-four defense spot during the exhibition season.
Recently, ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ caught up with Ribeirinha-Braga to discuss what got her into the game she loves, why she elected to join the PWHPA after four seasons, and more!
WHT: What drew you to the sport of hockey as a young girl, and what fueled the passion that has led you on a very impressive career?
LRB: My older brother used to play hockey, and my grandfather would bring me to open ice when I was 4 years old. Ever since I stepped on the ice, I loved how fast and skilled you had to be in order to be successful. Not only that, but playing with high intensity and competitiveness is what allows players to reach the highest level of play.
I also enjoyed playing against boys until the age of fourteen. I believe the contact and hitting was helpful in teaching me how to play with my head up and always on a swivel.
WHT: What drew you to the PWHPA? What about the organization’s goals and values stood out to you?
LRB: I was drawn to the PWHPA because of all the great players that have been part of the organization through its brief history. I am very excited to play high-level hockey again in my career. I am also proud to support their mission in creating a viable way for female hockey players to play in a long-term sustainable professional league.
WHT: How has your experience with the PWHPA been so far?
LRB: My experience with the PWHPA so far has been great! Coach Bill and Alex are doing everything they can to get us on the ice as much as possible given the current circumstances we are living through with COVID-19. They are also doing everything they can to keep us safe. I am excited to play some really fun hockey once the showcases start up!
WHT: I always like to ask this question because the answers can vary so much, what is your favorite memory in the sport of hockey?
LRB: My favorite memory was playing in the national championship game against Minnesota in 2013. Even though we lost that game, getting to that point and playing some of the best players in the game was very memorable and humbling. It was also crazy to play in front of that many fans.
WHT: What are some of your goals both personally and for the region as a whole this coming season?
LRB: My personal goals are to improve my hockey skills all-around, but specifically I would like to improve my snapshot. I would like to help this team grow into the best we can be by giving 100% every time I get on the ice, whether that be for practices or for games. I will try my hardest in practices so we can be tough to play against in games.