TORONTO September 27, 2007 A new chapter in women’s hockey officially kicks off today with the announcement of the formation of the Canadian Women’s’ Hockey League (CWHL).
The league is organized jointly by a group of volunteer business people as well a number of the players such as Jennifer Botterill, Allyson Fox, Kathleen Kauth, Kim McCullough and Sami Jo Small who have been instrumental in pulling the league together over the last few months.
“There’s a real buzz around women’s hockey in Canada these days,” said Sami Jo Small, a veteran of the Canadian women’s hockey scene with two Olympic gold medals and five world championships to her credit. “What makes this league different is that many of the teams will be supported by the girls’ minor hockey associations in the communities in which the teams are located. In addition, the players have a leadership role in collaboration with a group of volunteer business people on the executive committee.”
The players also said they hoped today’s announcement would lead to more corporate and even government support for women’s hockey.
“We are very excited about this season. It not only gives us a chance to play at a high level, but it also gives Canadians the opportunity to share the experience with us. There’s no question that along with increased awareness of our league, there’s also great potential for growing the game of women’s hockey,” said Jennifer Botterill, fellow Olympian and two-time gold medal winner.
The League is currently made up of seven teams with four in the Greater Toronto Area, one in Ottawa and two in Montreal. The four teams in the GTA are the Brampton Canadettes Thunder, Mississauga Chiefs, Burlington Barracudas and the Vaughan Flames. The rest of the league is comprised of the Ottawa Capital-Canucks, Montreal Stars and Quebec Phoenix.
The teams will play a full 40 game schedule culminating with the top two teams attending the Esso Women’s National Championships in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to play for the National Championship against the top two teams from the Western Women’s Hockey League.
The league is a not-for-profit enterprise but in making today’s announcement members of the CWHL executive committee said they will be looking for corporate sponsors and hope to have some announcements on that front in the coming months.
Cassie Campbell, another Canadian women’s hockey Olympian who retired from competitive play last year added her support to the new league saying she hopes it will lead to more awareness and a growing fan base.
“I’ve witnessed first hand Canadians’ admiration for women’s hockey as well as the pride in all of it’s accomplishments over the years. Although I no longer play the game, the value of this league and its roster of players is obvious. The CWHL will continue to provide opportunities so that more Canadians can sit in the rinks and enjoy the great product of women’s hockey on the ice ”
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League will give Canada’s elite level players a competitive environment in which to develop and maintain their skills. The goal is to build a future for women in hockey: a stable organization that leads the growth and promotion of women’s hockey in Canada and helps produce world class female hockey players and role models.