As the inaugural puck drop inches closer, the NWHL Foundation announced a Canadian Training Camp Series. Part of the Foundation’s values to help promote the growth of women’s hockey, it marks the first time that the league comes to Canada. Being held from July 6th-9th, it is an opportunity to evaluate talent and work towards establishing rosters for all four of the incipient league’s charter teams; the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters.
Taking place in four different Canadian cities; Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Windsor, it is an extension of the training camps which were previously held in the NWHL’s four founding cities. Some Canadian content was evident at those camps, including the likes of CWHL All-Star goaltender Erica Howe with Buffalo and Hailey Browne with New York, respectively. As a side note, the Canadian camps shall be followed by a special camp for European players, to be held from July 23rd-27th in Boston.
Acknowledging the amount of talent that exists in Canada, NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan is helping open the doors for Canadian players who are looking to advance their careers, resulting in borderless hockey. Taking into account that Ottawa has not enjoyed a pro women’s hockey team since the Ottawa Lady Senators folded after the 2009-10 CWHL season, it is a positive sign that the NWHL is hosting one of their Canadian camps there.
Since hosting the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships, the Ottawa region has seen many of its homegrown talents go on to greener pastures. Of note, Kanata’s Jamie Lee Rattray won the 2014 Patty Kazmaier Award while Orleans resident Erica Howe (who won a Frozen Four title with Rattray at Clarkson) became the first goaltender to win an All-Star Game in CWHL play. This is complemented by various members of the Nepean Wildcats competing with the Canadian Under-18 program and Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games.
Equally inspiring is the opportunity for Windsor to host an NWHL camp. Known in women’s hockey circles as the hometown of Meghan Agosta, the local University of Windsor Lancers program has experienced some major breakthroughs. Former captain Alyssa Baldin contributed to the Toronto Furies run towards the Clarkson Cup in 2014, while current players Jenny McKnight and Bree Polci contributed towards Canada’s silver medal effort in women’s ice hockey at the 2015 Winter Universiade.
Considering that Detroit is across the border from Windsor, it may also serve as a great opportunity for expats from Detroit and other regions of Michigan to shine. As Detroit has never had professional women's hockey, there will certainly be interest in the Windsor camp. When Detroit’s Wayne State University had an NCAA Division I women’s hockey program (since discontinued for budgetary reasons), several Canadians, including the aforementioned Baldin contributed to the program’s strong seasons in College Hockey American conference play.
Eligibility for interested players must include having graduated from college. Upon registering online, any players attending the camp series shall do so upon invitation. Fittingly, the registration period ends on Canada Day, July 1.
Canadian Training Camp Series schedule:
Montreal Camp at Complex Hockey Bonaventure
- July 6, 2015, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Ottawa Camp at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreational Complex
- July 7, 2015, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Toronto Camp at Scotia Bank Pond
- July 8. 2015, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Windsor Camp at WFCU Centre
- July 9, 2015, 4:55 p.m. – 6:25 p.m.