CWHL’s Stars Shine Bright at Annual Awards Show
Les Canadiennes’ Cathy Chartrand wins Defender of the Year
TORONTO—The Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s brightest stars were on display Friday night at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
American Kelli Stack won the top award of the night. She was named the league’s MVP thanks to the 26 goals, 23 assists and 49 points she collected in her inaugural season with the Kunlun Red Star.
“I knew I was physically prepared and pretty much at the top of my game,” said Stack. “I wouldn’t have expected anything less of myself. Whenever I come on the ice, I try to be the best player out there.”Stack’s 49 points were the highest single season point total by a CWHL player since Meghan Agosta’s 80-point campaign in 2011-12. Stack, who also won the Angela James Bowl as top scorer in the league, was motivated to perform at her peak after being left off the 2018 U.S. women’s Olympic hockey roster that won gold in Pyeongchang last month.
“I just wanted to showcase that I am one of the best players in the world,” said Stack. “I wanted to show that I am still physically at the height of my game. Our team did a great job of working together and getting a lot of wins. They kind of made it easy on me to be successful.”
The league’s players were in slight disagreement, instead bestowing Markham’s Jamie Lee Rattray with the Jayna Hefford Trophy. The award, given to the most valuable player as selected by the players, meant a great deal to Rattray.
“The talent in this league is crazy,” said Rattray. “Everyone could be up there with the way the competition is in the league. It’s crazy to think that I was the one up there. I’m so honored and humbled by what the players have said.”
Les Canadiennes’ lone winner of the evening was long-time defender Cathy Chartrand. She won defender of the year honours on the heels of a 23-point season, good for third in the league amongst defenders. It was her second such trophy in her career, having won the award in 2014 as well.
“It’s an appreciation,” said Chartrand. “You play in this league for so long. I’m not getting any younger and the league is getting faster and faster. You put in the time and effort and I think it shows you don’t do it for nothing.”
The top goaltender of the season was Noora Raty. The Finnish netminder for the Red Star boasted a 16-3 record this past season. She led the league in both goals-against-average (1.60) and save-percentage (.944). She also finished tied for first with Canadiennes’ goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer with six shutouts.
It was a taxing season for Raty, as she represented her country on the international stage as well as suiting up with the Chinese expansion team. She won bronze medals with Team Finland at both the 4 Nations Cup in Tampa, Florida in November as well as at the Olympic Games.
“I managed to travel real good,” said Raty. “I have to be honest, before the season, I was a little bit worried. I was looking at my schedule and all the air miles I’m going to put on. It’s just about managing it, staying fresh and making sure I’m recovered for games.”
The Calgary Inferno also fared well, garnering two trophies on the evening. 18-year-old forward Sophie Shirley was crowned Rookie of the Year. She scored eight goals and collected 19 points in her first year in the league.
“It’s an amazing feeling, for sure,” said Shirley. “It’s not something you think about coming in. I’m one of the younger ones in the league. It’s a huge honour.”
Inferno head coach Tomas Pacina was named Coach of the Year after leading Calgary to a 17-7-4 record.
“It’s an honor because the league has been very close,” said Pacina. “There is a huge parity in the coaches and in the league and the teams. Being awarded this honor feels quite special.”
While Pacina gave much of the credit to his players in his remarks, they directed the merit right back to him.“Tomas was awesome,” said Shirley. “He was awesome to me, really supportive throughout the year. He has so much knowledge to give.”
The awards show, hosted by TSN’s Kate Beirness and Sportsnet’s Jennifer Botterill, also celebrated the contributions of former chairman of the league’s board of directors Brad Morris. Morris was given the Humanitarian Award in recognition of his dedication to the league.
Les Canadiennes also accepted the Chairman’s Trophy as regular season champions. Chartrand, Maschmeyer, interim captain Ann-Sophie Bettez and general manager Meg Hewings were on hand to claim the award.
Clarkson Cup weekend continues with CWHL Community Day on Saturday where players get to interact with locals and youngsters. The Clarkson Cup final, pitting the Kunlun Red Star against the Markham Thunder, will be played on Sunday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum.