As it prepares for yet another exciting season, the CWHL unveiled today its 2017-18 regular season schedule, featuring 98 games to be played from October to March. Twenty-three games will be streamed live while four will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet.
Opening weekend is set for Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15 with a GTA battle between the Markham Thunder and Toronto Furies in Toronto. In Montreal, the Clarkson Cup champion Les Canadiennes begin their title defence against the Boston Blades.
Hockey fans will get their first look at the CWHL’s newest teams, Kunlun Red Star and Vanke Rays, when the Markham Thunder opens their home schedule on Oct. 21-22 while Vanke makes its debut against the Furies in Toronto on Oct. 28-29. The Thunder and Furies will also be the first teams to travel to China as Vanke hosts Toronto and Kunlun welcomes Markham beginning Nov. 18.
The Rays and Red Star will face off for the first time on Dec. 8.
After 6,000 fans turned out for the first-ever women’s professional hockey game at the Bell Centre last year, Les Canadiennes will return on Nov. 11 for a tilt against Kunlun.
The season’s first rematch of the last two Clarkson Cup finals goes on Jan. 6-7 when the Inferno hosts Montreal.
The CWHL will take a two-week break from Feb. 10-23 for the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which will feature many current and former CWHL players.
Single-game tickets will be on sale on Friday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. Season tickets are on sale now and this year’s package includes a “Bring a friend” ticket, allowing you to share your love of the CWHL for one of your games, as well as a special promotional offer courtesy of your team.
A new women’s hockey era is on the horizon and for the CWHL, the 2017-18 season will be anything but ordinary.
For the first time in league history, players will receive compensation for regular-season play after a pay structure was passed by the League’s Board of Directors. The structure is the result of a collaborative effort between the CWHL, the CWHLPA, general managers, and the Board.
“It’s an exciting and historic time for us,” Commissioner Brenda Andress said. “We have always maintained that our goal was to pay our players and we had a strategic plan in place that would allow us to do so beginning this season. The continued success of our teams, players, and league have been key in getting us to where we are.”
Compensation will range from $2,000 to $10,000 per player, based on how many years they’ve played in the CWHL while general managers will have a discretionary fund to contribute to player earnings.
“The players and the PA are very excited about the player stipend situation for the upcoming season,” said Markham Thunder goaltender and Players’ Association representative Liz Knox. “The League and the PA have been working hard together to ensure the longevity of player careers in the CWHL. We understand that this is just the beginning for the growth of our game and look forward to the future.”
The future is exactly what all involved had in mind when coming together to work out a viable structure.
“Enhancing the players’ experience is important to the CWHL,” Andress said. “Our plan is about sustainability. This is an exciting new era we’re embarking upon, and it’s only the beginning.”
Jessica Martino is a former stay-at-home defenceman for the Boston College Eagles, appearing in the Frozen Four three times. She graduated Cum Laude from Boston College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Sociology, concentrating in Community Advocacy and Social Policy. Martino continued her hockey career from 2012-2014 for the Memmingen Indians in the Bundeisliga, transitioning from her defensive role to a leading scorer. She officially retired from hockey in 2014.
Since then, Martino took some time away from the hockey arena and put on a pair of running shoes, completing the Boston Marathon in 2015 for Camp Shriver, an inclusive summer sports camp for children with and without developmental disabilities from low-income families in Boston, a program that she is very passionate about.
Professionally, Martino started her career working in Public Health Research with a focus on health, wellness, and nutrition. Currently, Martino is completing her graduate studies in a joint academic program between the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University and Simmons College for her Masters of Science in Nutrition and the credentials to become a Registered Dietitian. She also works part-time in the Food Services and Nutrition Department at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, MA, and is excited about re-entering the hockey arena as GM of the Boston Blades.
Shirley Hon is no stranger to hockey, having been a member of the Kunlun Red Star Group since its founding and, in 2016-17, serving as Director of Administration for Red Star’s men’s team in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Her experience with the first-ever Chinese professional hockey club prepared her as she steps into her new role as General Manager of the Vanke Rays.
Born and raised in China, Shirley has spent many years abroad, studying and working in various countries around the world, including Australia, Canada and Switzerland.
Shirley is also a guest lecturer at The University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur in Switzerland. She holds a marketing and public relations background in China, as well as being a specialist in econ-social topics and corporate responsibility issues.
Chris Vanstone joins Kunlun Red Star as General Manager after a decade of involvement in the OJHL. Most recently, Vanstone served as GM and President of Hockey Operations for the Milton Icehawks Junior A Hockey Club. Prior to that, he spent three years as a scout and representative with Uptown Sports Management. During that time, Vanstone also coached the Toronto Junior Canadians and Etobicoke Dolphins.
His experience also includes time as GM and Director of Hockey Operations for the Jr A Markham Waxers as well as four years with the Jr A Oakville Blades, where he held the roles of Head Scout, Assistant Coach, Director of Hockey Operations and Associate GM. He guided the Blades to two Buckland Cup championships and two Dudley Hewitt Championships, sending the club to the RBC Cup.
Over the course of his management and coaching career, more than 85 of Vanstone’s players have gone on to hockey success at many levels, including the NHL, AHL, ECHL, NCAA and CHL.
A former elite-level hockey player for McGill University and the Wingstar de Montréal (NWHL), Hewings has contributed to Les Canadiennes’ incredible growth as a club and, since 2010, has carried on the organization’s tradition of excellence in her position as General Manager. In her eight seasons with Les Canadiennes, the team has consistently set league attendance and television rating records, surpassed fundraising efforts, and earned a Championship berth seven times. In addition, Hewings led the Montreal franchise to a league-record fourth Clarkson Cup championship in 2017.
A communications professional with a diverse background in new media, marketing, and sports management, Hewings has helped Les Canadiennes become a mainstay in the Quebec sports landscape while nurturing a dynamic partnership with the Montreal Canadiens, which included a historic Les Canadiennes game at the Bell Centre on Dec. 10, 2016.
With the goal of providing the best environment for the world’s top athletes and working collaboratively with players to build a professional league that connects with new fans, Hewings has emphasized the importance of making hockey accessible and growing the grassroots game in her adopted home province of Quebec. In the spirit of building community and sharing knowledge, Les Canadiennes have launched their own youth camps and clinics and championed community initiatives that include the club’s annual Pink in the Rink and You Can Play showcase games, as well as charitable work with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Prior to her work with the CWHL, Hewings was a longtime editor at alt-weekly Hour Magazine, and is actively involved in both Montreal’s artistic and sporting communities, spearheading projects such as Unruly Hockey and the Adult Lovely Hockey League.
The Markham Thunder are excited to announce Chelsea Purcell as General Manager for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
Chelsea was the Thunder’s assistant general manager in 2016-17, working alongside GM Lori Dupuis, and has been involved with the team the past two seasons. Chelsea played a pivotal role in the rebranding and relocation of the Thunder to Markham.
Prior to living in the GTA, Chelsea played five years at the University of Saskatchewan where she captained the team for three years. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and a minor in Business. She continued on to play in the WWHL with the Edmonton Chimos, which then joined the CWHL the following year. Purcell played three seasons in the CWHL, one year as the captain for Team Alberta and then another two with the Calgary Inferno. Once retired from the CWHL, Purcell played two seasons with Kazakhstan prior to moving into the assistant general manager role.
Chelsea brings a wealth of knowledge in event planning, marketing and outreach from her experience at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and Sunnybrook Foundation. Chelsea received her post-secondary degree in Sport & Event Marketing at George Brown College.
Calgary, Alta – The Calgary Inferno made a special announcement prior to the puck drop in their game at the Calgary Stampede Corral against the Brampton Thunder onSunday, October 9, 2016. The organization has partnered with Girls Hockey Calgary (GHC) to create the Junior Inferno Program.
GHC president, Jody Forbes along with minor hockey players and the Inferno’s general manager Jeff Stevenson took part in the ceremonial puck drop.
Over the next three years, Girls Hockey Calgary (GHC) will begin re-branding their teams as the Girls Hockey Calgary Jr. Inferno, complete with an updated team emblem and jerseys. All teams will also be paired with an Inferno ambassador who will mentor the young players, committing to make appearances at team events and stay in communication with the team during the season through email, providing advice and inspiration. The Inferno will also sponsor a player of the week, month and year for GHC rewarding players with tickets to games and experiences such as presenting the Three Stars at Calgary Inferno games.
“This partnership is ground-breaking for our team and the CWHL,” stated Inferno general manager, Jeff Stevenson. “We have been working on this partnership for quite some time now and we are extremely excited that any girl that wants to play hockey in Calgary will now have the opportunity to be a member of the Inferno organization and be able to learn from elite female players that there is a future in hockey for them if they want to pursue it.”
A key component of the agreement between the Inferno and GHC is a commitment to work together to find opportunities to grow the female game at the grassroots level.
“The Inferno is a great organization and this partnership brings so many benefits to Girls Hockey Calgary,” remarked Jody Forbes, GHC president. “Aligning with the Inferno will increase visibility to girls’ hockey and will be an inspiration to the girls who are already playing. This is an important step as we continue building and promoting female minor hockey in Calgary.”
The game also set a record as the first professional women’s hockey game to be played at the historic Corral. During the first period of play, Brampton took two penalties, Jocelyn Larocque for holding and then with five minutes’ left in the period Jenna McParland took a major penalty for head contact. Calgary capitalized on the power play with a goal from Jillian Saulnier and assisted by Hayley Irwin.
In the second period, Calgary killed a penalty taken by Jacquie Pierri at 14:52. Brianne Jenner added another goal to the board about eight minutes into the second period with an assist to Rebecca Johnston. There was only one further power play opportunity for Calgary about three minutes’ left in the period, though the team was unable to capitalize and the period ended with a score of 2-0.
“I felt we came out hard in the first period, we played a more consistent game today, which is what we needed to do,” commented Hayley Irwin, back on the ice after being out last season for injury. “We had to win battles. Last night we let them get to the puck first, this morning was all about us getting the pucks first, winning battles and possessing the puck.”
Brampton scored about eight minutes into the third period to tie the game at two. Laura Stacey sent the goal past Genevieve Lacasse from teammate Laura Fortino. Hayley Irwin scored to go ahead for Calgary a couple minutes later with an assist to Bailey Bram and Brigette Lacquette. After Calgary’s Jacquie Pierri took a penalty for roughing, Brampton mounted a comeback with a powerplay goal with 7:11 left in the game. The goal was scored by Jenna McParland with an assist to Jess Jones. Brampton pulled the goalie with only seconds left in the game, though couldn’t score the goal to even the game. The final score was 3-2 for Calgary.
“It’s been awesome, it’s been a long time coming,” added Irwin about being back on the ice. “I’m getting to know the new players and we picked up right where we left off last year.”
Calgary, Alta – The Calgary Inferno opened the 2016/17 season with a special banner-raising ceremony in celebration of the team’s Clarkson Cup Championship. A number of returning Inferno players and retiring members of the Inferno championship team took to the ice to watch the banner raise.
The Inferno drew first blood in the game with a goal by Rebecca Johnston and assist to Blayre Turnbull. Brampton answered three minutes later with a goal by Sarah Edney, assisted by Shannon MacAulay and Jamie-Lee Rattray. Calgary took a series of three penalties and Brampton managed to capitalize on the third power play with a goal by Shannon MacAulay with assists to teammates Laura Fortino and Jess Jones. The period penalties tallied a total of three for Calgary and one for Brampton.
The second period was uneventful with both teams battling to score the next goal. Brampton took a total of three penalties in the second period with Calgary unable to capitalize on the power play opportunities.
“I thought we came out a bit nervous, perhaps due to the banner raising and the first game together, the energy was a bit off where it needed to be, remarked assistant coach Gina Kingsbury. “Brampton played a really good game and they pressured us really hard. Both teams played well in the end and it sets the precedence for the season, every team got better with their rosters and we’re looking forward to a great season.”
Calgary took three more penalties in the third period before Jillian Saulnier put one in the top corner past Brampton’s Erica Howe with four minutes’ left in the game. Calgary’s Brigette Lacquette and Sarah Davis provided the assists.
Both teams were unsuccessful in scoring in the over time period despite Calgary being short handed for the first 30 seconds. Then to the shootout.
Calgary shot first with Hayley Irwin’s attempt rejected. Brampton was stopped on the next shot and the Inferno’s captain, Brianne Jenner gunned the puck past Brampton for a goal in the second shootout round. With no Brampton shootout goals getting past Calgary’s goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, Blayre Turnbull had one final attempt to confirm Calgary’s victory. While she shot wide, Brampton also missed their last attempt and Calgary won the game 3-2.
The three stars of the game:
Brianne Jenner, Calgary Inferno
Shannon MacAulay, Brampton Thunder
Jillian Saulnier, Calgary Inferno
Fans can see the team play again on October 9 where there will be a celebration of Minor Hockey in Calgary with a special announcement before the game. This will also be the first time the Inferno play at the former home of the Calgary Flames, the Stampede Corral. All minor hockey players wearing their team jersey will receive complimentary admission.
Following the game, the Inferno will co-host a Fast Female Champ Chat presented by Fuelling Women Champions for girls aged 8-18 at the Boyce Theatre. Several CWHL Calgary Inferno players/Fast and Female Ambassadors will inspire and lead participants thru fun physical literacy activities, a yoga/dance party, inspirational chat/QA and an autograph session. Space to this event is limited pre-registration is required to guarantee your spot. Go to calgaryinferno.ca/fast for more information.