Saskatchewan trio looking ahead to playing in historic first PWHL season

Click to play video: 'Inaugural PWHL season approaching for trio of Saskatchewan athletes'
Inaugural PWHL season approaching for trio of Saskatchewan athletes
WATCH: Newly drafted Saskatchewan standouts Brooke Hobson and Sophie Shirley will be joining Olympic gold medalist Emily Clark in the inaugural season of the Professional Women's Hockey League this winter – Sep 25, 2023

The bright lights of New York City are calling for Prince Albert’s own Brooke Hobson.

After a five-year NCAA career with the Northeastern Huskies and a stint overseas in Sweden, Hobson will be heading back to North America to continue her professional hockey career.

This after being selected 45th overall in last week’s inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League Draft by New York’s yet to be named franchise.

“I’m super excited to be a member of New York’s organization,” said Hobson. “Being one of the building blocks right from the start of the franchise is also exciting.”

“You’re just like, ‘Wow it actually happened.’ You’re running up on stage and it was kind of hectic in a way, but I was definitely proud. Once I got back to where my cellphone was, I was overwhelmed with how much support I had.”

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The PWHL Draft held in Toronto marked a key moment for the upstart league, formed over the summer following the purchase of the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation.

Hobson was part of a group of players with their careers up in the air following the creation of a single professional women’s league, as she had signed a contract to play with the PHF’s Boston Pride back in May.

Click to play video: 'Landmark women’s professional hockey league providing hope to Sask. players'
Landmark women’s professional hockey league providing hope to Sask. players

Coming off 20 points in 32 games with MoDo’s women’s team and placed into a pool with some of the top women’s players in the world, the former Prince Albert Bears standout defender now knows her path towards professional hockey in the PWHL is secure.

“I had faith that this all was going to come together the way that it did and honestly it blew my expectations already for what they’re putting forth,” said Hobson. “The wait was definitely worth it. Now that I know exactly the location that I’m going to, it just makes it that much more exciting.”

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Roughly half an hour later, Saskatoon’s Sophie Shirley was able to experience her draft day moment selected 63rd overall by the PWHL’s Boston franchise.

The second Saskatchewan-born player off the board, Shirley was able to celebrate the pick with her mom and aunt who were both in attendance.

“It’s one of those feelings that you hadn’t really experienced before,” said Shirley. “So to be able to be there in person and kind of be a part of history was super cool.”

Shirley is also coming off a decorated collegiate career with the University of Wisconsin Badgers, winning a pair of NCAA championships and most recently put up 12 goals and 37 points in 41 regular season games in her senior year.

Like Hobson, Shirley had signed with the PHF’s Pride before the PWHL’s acquisition of the league and now the Saskatoon Stars alumni gets to remain in the same market.

“Being able to play with some of the best players in the world and also against some of the best players in the world is only going to increase my development on the ice,” said Shirley. “Players like Hillary Knight being able to be a teammate of her’s… those are the people that you want to surround yourself with.”

The duo join Olympic gold medalist and Saskatoon product Emily Clark in the league, after the Team Canada standout became the first ever signing of Ottawa’s PWHL franchise during the league’s initial free agency period.

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“Something that I think the three of us will take a lot of pride in is wanting to lay a strong foundation for what it means to be part of the PWHL in Ottawa, whatever our team name ends up being,” said Clark during her introductory press conference alongside teammates Brianne Jenner and Emerance Maschmeyer.

“I’m most excited for the opportunity to build that culture and foundation for this team for years to come.”

With three Saskatchewan athletes helping to get the league off the ground, it’s a unique situation for Shirley who grew up playing against Hobson and played with Clark during her stint with the Badgers.

“To be able to get to represent our province of Saskatchewan is obviously super humbling,” said Shirley. “I’m honoured to be able to do that, also to be able to play alongside Brooke and Em.”

While the group will be spread out competing in three different markets, Hobson said they’re also aiming to push the sport forward together.

“I get to be that role model for the younger girls now,” said Hobson. “So I think that’s what I’m most excited about, to lead the way for the younger generation and show them that they do have the opportunities arising as the men do.”

PWHL training camps will start in November, with the 24-game seasons beginning in January across the league’s six markets.


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