With the exciting news of a new NWHL team breaking this past week, I was eager to get some insights on what the players who played during season five felt about the league’s expansion into hockey-mad Toronto. So I reached out to six different players for their thoughts about the addition of a sixth team, four of those players have already re-signed with their respective teams for the NWHL’s sixth season.
Last season, by my count, 22 of the 121 players that suited up for at least one NWHL game were Canadian.
Three of the players I spoke with are Canadian, and as you might expect, they are all excited about the opportunity to play some ‘road games’ in their home country. A way that their friends and families can see them play the game that they love without having to cross the border to the United States.
Here’s what they had to say when asked their initial thoughts upon hearing about the league’s sixth team being placed in Toronto, Ontario.
Mallory Rushton (Riveters): AMAZING! I was so thrilled to find out the NWHL will be adding a team in my home country. I cannot wait to see the future progression of this league adding more teams in Canada down the road. I think it’s great that this team will be led by all strong female leaders. I also can’t wait for the Rivs to play in Toronto next season!
Shannon Doyle (Whale): So cool! Expanding for the second time in the NWHL’s short, five-year history is a testament to the hard work of everyone who believes in the success of women’s ice hockey, and all of their hard work and dedication since the first puck drop in October of 2015.
It is easy to say that the addition of this Toronto team is awesome, or exciting - but it goes much deeper than that. Another team means more jobs in the industry that is Women’s Professional Sports. I am honored to be associated with such a tremendous group of leaders, and cannot wait to play back in Canada again.
Taylor Accursi (Beauts): I’m so stoked that Toronto is now part of the NWHL! The expansion is great for the league and the future of women’s hockey. I cannot wait to have that cross-border rivalry - and an added bonus of being able to play an “away” game technically, in front of my friends and family from home.
Allie Morse (Whitecaps): This is obviously a really exciting time for our league adding a second expansion team. I’m a little biased, but adding Minnesota to a die-hard hockey market has been nothing short of a massive success, so I am excited to see Toronto follow the same path. From what I understand, the Furies were hugely supported and I would be shocked to see if that doesn’t carry over to this team as well.
I’m also really fired up to have another location that will hopefully have a powerful fan experience like ours in Minnesota, and those in Boston and Buffalo. Those are fun places to play and I can imagine the energy in that rink will be equally the same. Another exciting part that this team will give our league is a different playoff structure, which I have no idea how it will be. But I’m sure it will be thrilling for us and our fans and include more games.
McKenna Brand (Pride): I think it’s really awesome that the NWHL has expanded to Toronto! It’s a true testament to the hard work that our league has put into growing the game. Expanding to another hockey market is something that I am very excited about and I’m definitely looking forward to our road trips to Toronto!
Hanna Beattie (Whale): It’s such exciting news that the NWHL has expanded to Toronto. I am continuously impressed by the league’s efforts to grow professional women’s hockey and I think this expansion is a big step, especially considering the current state of the world.
Toronto has proven to be an impressive and loyal hockey market, and I think this team will thrive there. I’m excited to see what name is agreed upon and love the idea that the fans have a say in it!