As 2017 comes to a close, The Ice Garden continues its highlights of the year with the top 5 moments for the CWHL this past year.
CWHL adds two Chinese teams in its expansion
Summer — Throughout the late spring and summer months this year, women’s hockey fans were surprised with the news that the CWHL was expanding to China. At first, there was only word about Kunlun Red Star, but news of a second team in the Vanke Rays followed a few months later. China and the CWHL partnered to expand the scope of the audience as well as add more international talent to the pool. Several North Americans and European players such as Kelli Stack and Noora Räty signed on to be ambassadors in China as well.
CWHL offers salaries to the players
September 1 — After a long-awaited period of planning, the CWHL announced that it was going to pay its players with a minimum of $2,000 to a maximum of $10,000 for the season. Thanks to the expansion in China as well as new sponsors and broadcasting rights, the CWHL was able to fulfill its long-term goal of paying its players. The league has come a long way from its inception, and Commissioner Brenda Andress continues to plan for the future: "We know this plan is sustainable, it won't just be paying them for one year. We have a plan in place and each year we will grow those stipends."
Trades in women’s hockey are few and far between, but this year there were a couple that drastically altered the landscape and could have an impact on this year’s Clarkson Cup Final.
First, Emerance Maschmeyer turned heads when she left the Calgary Inferno and went to Les Canadiennes de Montreal. The Inferno went from having three potential starting netminders in Maschmeyer, Genevieve Lacasse (Team Canada centralization) and Delayne Brian, the only goalie left in Calgary.
Then the hockey world was rocked again when Erin Ambrose announced that she was also going to Les Canadiennes and leaving behind a struggling Furies team.
Ambrose and Maschmeyer are both very young and will likely be in the CWHL for several years; if they stay with Les Canadiennes, they’ll help it remain a powerhouse in the league for years to come.
Les Canadiennes win the Clarkson Cup
Revenge is best served cold.
After getting blown out by the Calgary Inferno in the 2015 Clarkson Cup Final, Les Canadiennes came back with a purpose in 2016 - vengeance.
Marie-Philip Poulin sealed the deal with an empty-net goal and Les Canadiennes prevented the Inferno from repeating as champions.
Les Canadiennes are your 2017 Clarkson Cup Champions! pic.twitter.com/YzgBxz8YaU— Women's Hockey Gifs (@CWHLHighlights) March 5, 2017
Also from that game? Arguably the greatest locker room celebration photo of all time, also of Poulin.
Newest addition to the Chuellttes
Are you ready for the most feel-good story of 2017? (Well, this one was also a serious contender)
Fresh off their Clarkson Cup victory, Caroline Ouellette took the beginning of the 2017-18 season off, and later, we found out why. She had a tiny baby named Liv with Julie Chu, and their family is officially the cutest thing on the planet (thanks, Shannon Miller).
On November 5th, at 10:18pm, after 40 weeks and 2 days, Julie and I welcomed to the world our beautiful daughter Liv. I feel truly blessed to experience this incredible adventure with my love and best friend Julie. I did not realise it was possible to love this much until I met this little buddle of joy! It was a happy pregnancy for us. Liv was on the ice to win the Clarkson Cup with Les Canadiennes de Montréal this past March. We spent the summer coaching the sport we love with great friends. Thanks to our families and friends for your support and for being part of this new journey. Cheers to the sleepless nights to come! Le 5 novembre dernier, à 22:18, après 40 semaines et 2 jours, Julie et moi avons accueilli notre magnifique fille Liv. Je suis tellement choyée de vivre ce moment incroyable avec l’amour de ma vie et ma meilleure amie Julie. Je ne croyais pas qu’il était possible d’aimer autant avant de la rencontrer! Ce fut une grossesse heureuse pour nous. Liv était sur la glace pour remporter la Coupe Clarkson avec Les Canadiennes de Montréal en Mars dernier. Notre été fut passé à enseigner le sport qu’on aime avec nos meilleures amies. Merci à tous nos familles et amis pour votre support et de faire partie de cette aventure. Cheers aux nuits blanches à venir!
Julie Chu and Ouellette’s baby quickly went viral and was one of our favorite stories from this year, especially when you do the math and realize that Ouellette was pregnant when she and Chu won the Clarkson Cup together earlier this year.
Could we see Ouellette back in action this year? It’s possible; she recently skated in the Teresa Humes tournament for Les Etoiles De Montreal.
PSA that Caroline Ouellette played a competitive hockey game today, because she is Caroline Ouellette and the rest of us are mere mortals.— Kirsten (@kmtwhelan) December 29, 2017
Caroline Ouellette was in the starting line-up and had an assist in said competitive hockey game. https://t.co/n2QwmSJSAO— Kirsten (@kmtwhelan) December 29, 2017