National Women’s Hockey League Explores Canada for Talent

League Begins Four Stop Training Camp Tour in Montreal

Women’s hockey has added another chapter to its history, and it will benefit university female hockey players who wish to continue their careers after they graduate.

The National Women’s Hockey League, formed earlier this year, will be opening its doors to aspiring players with university degrees and promises to pay its players, giving players an opportunity to continue playing hockey after their post-secondary education.

The new league will begin with four teams: The New York Riveters, the Buffalo Beauts, the Boston Pride and the Connecticut Whale. While all four teams and a number of the players are from the United States, the NWHL have begun a 4-stop tour in Canada in search of Canadian talent, beginning in Montreal this past week.

Video by Elysia-Marie Campbell

“It went really well, we didn’t have quite as many people out there as we were hoping for but I think it was a great feel for the area,” NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan said of the first training camp. “I’m glad that these players came out and gave it all they had – it was a great practice.”

Six players took part in the Montreal training camp, including three goaltenders.

“Just the opportunity that it gives young women just to look up to and to strive for a professional level,” said Chantal Lischynski, a goalie from Liberty University in Virginia. “Now you have the next step and something to even be pushing for while you’re in college.

“College doesn’t have to be the end to your hockey career.” – Chantal Lischynski

Commissioner Rylan stressed the need for education for NWHL players, as a college degree is a prerequisite for incoming players.

“Not only is there an emphasis that these women have other careers rolling at the same time as their athletic career but also just to prepare them for the women’s game,” she said. “Right now, college is our feeder system.”

Despite the low turnout, former Montreal Canadiens player Gaston Gingras worked with the players, making them do basic drills, as well as play three-on-three hockey.

“It was hard because we were only 6 players,” said UdeM Carabins forward Sara Lachance. ”We couldn’t do a scrimmage but we did 3-on-3. It was good training for cardio, it was really hard, but it was fun.”

There were some pretty good girls out there, skating wise [and] skill wise,” said Gingras. “Too bad they were so few, but they worked hard, they did a good job.”

With the season starting in the fall, many see this league as the natural progression for women’s hockey.

Rylan said that after the 2014 Winter Olympics, when team Canada defeated team USA in the women’s final, would have been the perfect time to utilize its momentum and start a paid pro women’s league.

“The game has progressed so much even in the last 10 [years],” the commissioner said.

“In hockey we’ve reached a level that’s competitive enough. I think it’s going to be really interesting to get paid and get more people watching,” Lachance said.”