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International Talents Thrive in the Professional Women’s Hockey League

Some of the world's best female hockey players are coming to the PWHL.

In its inaugural season, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) has introduced six teams across the United States and Canada: Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto. Despite being smaller than other professional sports leagues, the PWHL has welcomed a diverse group of international athletes. The six teams’ current rosters feature players from Czechia, Sweden, Finland, France, and Austria, among others. 

PWHL Ottawa is a diverse team with a considerable number of international players. Its lineup features 11 Canadians, seven Americans, two Czechs, a German, a Hungarian, and a Japanese player. “We always felt that we were going to be a little bit disadvantaged to those other teams because they have so many homegrown players,” Michael Hirshfield, Ottawa’s general manager, said. To build a stronger team, Hirshfeld focused on recruiting athletes from outside of North America.

Ottawa’s international players are settling in well. The team shared that it has enjoyed bonding through learning about different cultures and languages. Akane Shiga, who hails from Japan, has become “the most beloved player on the team,” Hirshfield said. Katerina Mrazova, one of the team’s Czech players, said she’s feeling at home in Ottawa. Brianne Jenner, a Toronto native and PWHL Ottawa's captain, has loved seeing all her teammates contributing to the team’s culture.

Other teams have also sought out international athletes. Chloe Aurard, the league’s only player from France, plays for PWHL New York. New York was also the only team to bring a player across the border during the league’s free agency period, signing Canadian Micah Zandee-Hart. Some franchises, however, have focused on developing homegrown talent. PWHL Minnesota, representing the “State of Hockey,” features 20 Americans; PWHL Toronto includes 24 Canadians; and PWHL Montreal has nine Quebecers. 

In total, the league includes 157 players who have represented 12 different countries, including 14 women from outside of North America. Ottawa and PWHL Boston lead the league in international representation, each representing six countries. New York is in second, featuring players from five nations. Montreal represents four countries, and Minnesota and Toronto tie for last with three each. 

As the PWHL continues to welcome new players from around the world, it enriches its talent pool and showcases the unifying power of sports. In this new era of hockey, the league is not only nurturing inclusivity, but also promoting cultural understanding by embracing international representation. It's exciting to see a smaller league like the PWHL commit to global diversity while growing the game of women's hockey.


Edited by Ella Chang

Social media content created by Daryl Batt

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