(Toronto) With Marie-Philip Poulin and Laura Stacey as concession players, it was already certain that he would score goals within the Montreal team of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (LPHF). Following the inaugural draft of the new circuit, there is no longer the slightest doubt about the identity that the franchise wishes to develop.
On Monday, the league pulled out all the stops by organizing a formal draft session at the CBC premises in Toronto. On site, around a hundred players and their loved ones formed an enthusiastic crowd, supplemented by the busy staff of the six teams.
Montreal general manager Danièle Sauvageau and her entourage used four of their first ten picks to acquire offensive defenders. This quartet will be led by Erin Ambrose, quarterback of the Canadian national team, who became Montreal’s first round pick.
She will be supported by Kati Tabin, top scorer among PHF defenders last season, the Czech Dominika Lásková, who played offensively last year in the PHF, as well as the Quebecer Maude Poulin-Labelle, who, fresh out of the university ranks, defines herself as a specialist in transition play.
The organization was looking for guards who were both capable of carrying the puck and getting it out of their zone quickly, confirms Danièle Sauvageau. The defensive structure, “we are capable of teaching it”, specifies the DG. “But a defender capable of making a good first pass and moving away from her net is less learned. »
The administrator was surprised that Ambrose was still available in the first speaking round in Montreal, in sixth place. On the numerical advantage of the national selection, “it’s essentially her who passes the puck to Marie-Philip Poulin”.
Ambrose, 29, has been a member of the Canadian senior team since 2017. She competed at the PyeongChang and Beijing Olympics, winning silver and gold, respectively. She also accompanied Canada to five world championships.
“In a way, I’m coming home,” said this former Canadian, a few moments after learning the identity of her new team.
“Very nervous” to know where she would end up, she welcomed with a smile the prospect of joining an organization where she found several familiar faces, in addition to head coach Kori Cheverie.
We can’t not love the idea of playing with Marie-Philip Poulin every day! I love what Danièle is building in Montreal. I have complete confidence in her.
Like the other athletes selected in the first round, Ambrose was welcomed on stage by tennis legend Billie Jean King, co-founder of the league.
With his second round selection (7e in total), Montreal has set its sights on attacker Kristin O’Neill, 25, also a member of the Canadian team. She notably participated in the last three world championships.
Fast and hard-working, this former prolific NCAA scorer fills more of a support role with Team Canada.
“She’s really tough, so you want her on your team,” said goalkeeper Ann-Renée Desbiens. She is very disturbing. At some point you’re going to want to punch him. »
Without consulting her teammate, O’Neill essentially said the same thing about Desbiens, calling the prospect of not having to face her and Poulin a “relief.”
This Ontarian will not be in completely unfamiliar territory either, since she trained in Montreal in 2020 and 2021, in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she was excited to return to the metropolis, which she could explore for good.
With a staff assembled quickly following the creation of the league, Sauvageau sought to evaluate players who had played in different circuits in an equivalent manner. The results of his first draft are indeed diverse.
There we find young people who have just finished university – Quebecers Gabrielle David and Maude Poulin-Labelle, Canadian Claire Dalton as well as Americans Maureen Murphy and Madison Bizal; two members of the Czech national team as well as a Swede. We also drew seven times in the PHF, notably with veterans Kennedy Marchment, Jillian Dempsey and Ann-Sophie Bettez. The three finished among the top ten scorers on the circuit last season.
“They are also players who have had success at the university level,” recalls Danièle Sauvageau. The pool of players (from the PHF) was very interesting. When you look at the number of their players who have been drafted, I think it confirms it. »
Now that the draft is complete, each team has added 15 players to their roster with whom they must sign contracts. By adding the three concession players already hired, the clubs therefore count on 18 athletes each. Five more must still be added through the free agent market before training camps, which are scheduled to take place in November.
“We can’t wait to see what happens next! », Marie-Philip Poulin got excited.
She’s probably not the only one.
Heise in the very first row
Taylor Heise was the very first to hear her name. Coming from the university ranks, the 23-year-old striker has already represented her country twice at the world championships, notably helping the American team to win the title at the last presentation of the tournament. She will now wear the colors of the Minnesota team, her native state. Toronto then caused a relative surprise by selecting Jocelyne Larocque. The defender, veteran of the Canadian team and triple Olympic medalist, was expected a little later by the main experts who had ventured into predictions. Boston subsequently made Alina Müller the first European player in the league’s young history. Aged 25, this Swiss striker has already participated in three Olympic Games. In the next row, the New York team chose Ella Shelton, a 25-year-old defender also from the Canadian national team. Ottawa continued with American defender Savannah Harmon.