A lot of NWHL/PHF players were on the move this off-season, which is something I can identify with. Being as how we’re in the same boat I thought it’d be fun series to put together, to see what they’re going through as they prepare for Season 7. Once a week-ish in this space we’ll get the low down on what’s up with a familiar face in a new place. Up next is goaltender Tera Hofmann, who signed with her hometown team - the Toronto Six - after being drafted and playing only one game with the Metropolitan Riveters.
Drafted 16th overall (Round 3) in the 2020 NWHL Draft following a great senior season at Yale University, Hofmann won her only pro start, a 4-3 win over the Connecticut Whale in Lake Placid where she made 33 saves. Now she’s eager to get going in front of friends and family for the first time in a long time when she suits up for the Six this season.
The recently turned 23-year-old netminder was the first player I spoke to on the record about the NWHL to PHF change.
“I’m glad the gendered term women’s has been dropped. I think it will hopefully make the league more accessible, to everyone - players and fans. It’s a preliminary step, an optic thing right now. It’s our job to now go ahead and make it a reality, make it a tangible change within our league. I’m not sure where Federation came from, but I do think PHF has a ring to it,” said Hofmann from an airport as she prepared to fly back home to Ontario from New Jersey for the upcoming season.
“I’m excited to see where this goes, how it plays out, and hopefully it’s not too big of a change for our fans. I think everyone I’ve talked to has been on board with it. I’m hoping it opens up more dialogue instead of shutting it down. Some people might see it as an erasure of what has happened over the past six seasons, but what I’m hoping is that it becomes an opportunity for people to really think beyond the rink.”
“Hockey is about so much more than that,” she added. “Our league, for the most part, has done a good job at capturing that and using it, but there is always so much more for us to do. We’re advocates, athletes, human beings, and I’d like to see us take this opportunity to provide that safe space for people to play hockey. I think that’s what will differentiate us from other leagues. We have to ability to get that kind of reputation of being inclusive and make hockey a sport that people are able to access.”
No Glove Love
The Ice Garden: You only got to see the ice for one game with the Riveters, do you feel like you have to prove yourself all over again, or is that just another day in the life of a goaltender?
Tera Hofmann: Yeah for sure. You’re always trying to prove yourself no matter what position you’re in, even if you’re a starter. You might be granted some liberties, but you have to come in and continue to prove yourself every single practice, every game.
TIG: What can fans of the Six expect to see from you this season?
TH: It’s hard to gauge from just one (pro) game but I like to leave it all out there on the ice every time I play and I do whatever I can to prepare for that. It’s been tough in the off-season, especially with covid, not being able to play in a lot of games the past two years. But I would say have that one game definitely rekindled that passion I have for hockey. It’s easy to get lost in the sauce when you’re not playing games; when you’re just practicing the intensity gets lost a little bit I think. It was really nice to get that one game because it reminded me of what I’m striving toward. The dream is to be my best self, reach my ceiling in every opportunity, and be consistent in that. That’s what I’m looking to give to the T6 fans and my team.
TIG: For the Toronto fans that may not have seen you play yet, what type of goaltender and person will they be getting?
TH: I try to bring a calm, steady presence to the ice. I make the saves I’m supposed to make, give my team the confidence they need. Hopefully for my teammates this year, as I have been in last years, I can be someone whom they look to when they’re a little nervous as a sense of security in the net - and even when I’m not playing hopefully I bring that to the bench as well.
On the Road Again
TIG: This will be your third team in three years, with the silver lining of having Saroya (Tinker) with you, what do you think will be the hardest or weirdest part of changing teams yet again?
TH: It honestly doesn’t feel weird. It feels like a natural progression for me. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the Riveters, I would’ve loved to play there again. But I’m also really excited and happy to go home and play there. I already know some of the players on the team, I played with them in Toronto while growing up (peewee, midget, bantam), played against them for years too. So it really doesn’t feel too much like joining a new team necessarily. I also trained with the Six here during the previous summer during covid when I wasn’t able to cross the border, and I got to know some of the players that way too.
I hadn’t really thought about the three teams/three years thing until you brought it up, but I’m part of this league now and with that, you get to know the players, their personalities on and off the ice - whether or not you’re on their team. So I’m looking forward to continuing that with all the new players in our league.
TIG: What is something that excites you about playing in your hometown?
TH: Well first off, I get to live at home, so no rent! Free food, my mom’s cooking is phenomenal and so is my dad’s. My sister is home too, and she’s also a great cook - so I’ll definitely be eating very well (laughs). It will be nice to be home, with my friends and support structures around me - I don’t have to re-establish that here, which is something I had to do last season. I’m just really excited to see my parents, my grandma, and my other family in Toronto in the stands. I can’t wait to see their faces in the stands because it’s honestly been a while since they’ve been able to come and see me play in a game. Even when I was playing at Yale, my parents both work full time so they weren’t able to come out and see me too often; it was always a special treat when they were able to be there.
TIG: Seems like everything worked out great for you, but how did this move back home come about?
TH: I think everything happens for a reason, and I don’t think it happens necessarily in a way that you expect it to happen. I’m a very big believer that, wherever I am, whatever situation I’m put in, I’ll try to make the best of it. Not only that, but I’ll thrive too. It was unfortunate that I didn’t end up where I wanted to be initially, but I also love being home in Toronto so there’s not much for me to be upset about - just because things didn’t work out the way I originally anticipated they would heading into this off-season. Sometimes life throws you curveballs (laughs), and it’s my job to catch them.
TIG: Are you looking forward to potentially getting a start against the Riveters? Obviously, you still have friends on the team and on some other teams, but those games have to be circled on your calendar right?
TH: Yes, totally. The fact that I have friendships with players on the other teams makes it more exciting to play those games. I’m definitely going to want to win. I’ve been in New Jersey training with Moose (Rebecca Morse) all summer, and she hasn’t been able to beat me on a breakaway yet, at least not intentionally!