As we embark on this, our seventh season, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the year that was and the one that lies ahead. Our achievements in the 2013-14 season would never have been possible were it not for the support of our amazing fans. You – the fans who attend games, wear our team merchandise, watch live streams when you can’t get to a rink – you are the foundation of our league. It is easy and convenient and fun to be a fan of women’s hockey once every four years, but it is true passion that defines those of us who are fans all day, every day, every year. Our passion, your passion and the passion of our players, are what drives this league. I thank you.
Our accomplishments in the 2013-14 season were many – more than we could ever mention here. However, from the excellence demonstrated week in and week out, we did want to take a moment to highlight some of the truly remarkable achievements, both on ice and off.
The stage was set for the season with the CWHL Draft held in late August. First round picks Wong (Calgary), Wilson (Toronto), Jones (Brampton), Rougeau (Montreal) and Bolden (Boston) led an outstanding group of rookies who went on to have an immediate impact on their respective teams. Quick on the heels of our draft was the announcement of the newly branded Calgary Inferno. With the support of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, the Inferno rebrand brought new energy and excitement to our team in western Canada. The exceptional logo design resulted in the Inferno’s merchandise becoming the league’s top sellers.
Regular season play was of exceptional quality across the league, with the Montreal Stars leading the way to a first place overall finish. Their 19-2-2 regular season record resulted in a number of awards for the team at the league’s annual awards gala.
With a new title sponsor in the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the 2014 event was the best yet. Featuring keynote addresses by Prime Minister Steven Harper and Canadian business icon Arlene Dickinson, the players weren’t the only stars on hand.
That same weekend, the league hosted the Clarkson Cup in Markham, Ont. A record number of fans saw the Toronto Furies win their first-ever championship, in a nail-biter against the Boston Blades, that took overtime to decide the eventual 1-0 winner. It was a brilliant culmination to an equally brilliant season.
During the season the league was fortunate to have sponsors lending their support to our growth and development. In turn, and in the spirit of giving that defines the CWHL, the league and its teams lent their support to local communities. We engaged in fundraisers supporting breast cancer research, food drives and youth hockey throughout Canada and the U.S. Our players, coaches and general managers were all incredibly generous with their time and energy.
Looking to the new season, we know this will be our best year ever. Our recent announcement about our broadcasting partnership with Sportsnet ensures that CWHL games will receive the national exposure they deserve. We are equally thrilled to announce that we will be streaming a record 24 live games this season. The exposure of these games being broadcast nationally on television and around the world online, will bring new fans to our games and undoubtedly spark more interest from communities seeking a CWHL team of their own. On that very topic, the league continues to receive expressions of interest in expansion teams. The league has appointed board member and former Boston Blades player Caitlin Cahow to lead an expansion evaluation committee.
The new season sees us welcoming many new faces to our league, including:
- Kevin Haller: Head Coach, Calgary Inferno
- Arlene Dickinson: Ambassador
- Graeme Roustan: Ambassador
- IBC, Sportsnet, Bridgeforce, OMG’s, BreezeMax: League Sponsors
We invite you to join us at a CWHL game this season. Individual game tickets, season passes and live streaming packages are all available at www.cwhl.ca.
I wish all involved with the league an incredible season and thank each you for your support.
Canadian Women’s Hockey League