The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) came calling to Windsor on Thursday hoping to spot some talent for its professional league.
Story and photo by Fred Groves
Among those looking for NWHL spots on one of four United States based teams were University of Windsor Lancers’ alumni forward Candice Chevalier and goalie Kassandra Paone.
“I am not getting my hopes up. I am just out for the experience,” said Paone who is originally from Port Colborne.
“It would be a great experience to play the game I love,” she added.
Prior to donning the pads at the WFCU, Paone, who is off to Florida for the nationals in roller hockey with a Detroit-based team, said that the idea of the NWHL, a professional women’s hockey league is long overdue.
The NWHL will start in the fall and is the brainchild of commissioner Dani Rylan and Angela Ruggiero of Team USA.
Canada and the USA are known for their epic rivalry in Olympic hockey and according to Rylan who was at the WFCU scouting the talent, there is a lot of support for women to play professional hockey.
“It started as an idea about a year-and-a-half ago. It’s been in the making for the last six years.”
The Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Conneticut Whale and New York Riveters are set to play an 18-game NWHL schedule. Salary cap is $270,000 with the minimum of $10,000 per player.
“The reaction makes me remember why we started this” – Dani Rylan.
Although the league will have teams in the United States, the NWHL is full aware of the talent that is on this side of the border. Besides Chevalier and Paone, the Windsor tryout saw several prospects from Michigan.
The stop in Windsor wrapped up a four-city Canada campaign which included Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Rylan said this will truly be an international league as they have already signed one player from Austria and another tryout will include players from Germany, Russia and Japan.
“I think there will be a wide range of fans. It gives an attainable goal to young women. The women’s game is fast and pure and it has a nice flow to it.”
According to Rylan, 14 percent of those who play hockey in Canada are female and 13 percent in USA hockey are female.
Tracy Robinson, 23, of Windsor was hoping to make the cut out of the Windsor camp but she also has her sites set on refereeing in the nation’s highest amateur women’s league, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
“I think this is really cool,” said the forward before lacing up her skates. “People are going to be interested. I have been a referee for nine years.”
Robinson played in the Windsor Wildcats and Windsor Junior Spitfires programs.
“I think I have a good chance because I’ve watched a lot of hockey. I am small but I have a lot of confidence.’