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'Such committed athletes': Professional women's hockey returns to Calgary

Last Updated Oct 23, 2020 at 6:28 am MST

Calgary Inferno's Brianna Decker (centre left, 14) is congratulated after scoring her team's third goal against Les Canadiennes de Montreal during second period action in the 2019 Clarkson Cup game in Toronto, on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Chris Young/CP)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Unless you’ve got an eagle eye on ice times across Calgary, you might not know that professional women’s hockey has returned to the city.

It’s back, and training is in full force.

RELATED: ‘Great location’: Rebecca Johnston readies for PWHPA hub in Calgary

A year after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded and we lost the Calgary Inferno, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) named our city one of its five regional hubs.

The players are now on the ice training three times a week, along with a weekly game versus the University of Calgary Dinos.

AUDIO: 660’s Sandra Prusina with PWHPA Calgary region general manager Becky McGee

“There was so much interest,” Calgary region general manager Becky McGee explained of her 25-player roster. “They’re such committed athletes. It just amazes me — the dedication, the showing up long before the ice times to be sure that their bodies are prepared, their minds are prepared.

“While they have to do many other things during the day to keep themselves going in this sport, they commit as if this is their full-time job.”

The roster features Olympic gold medal winners, NCAA standouts and Clarkson Cup champions.

“A lot of the Canadian athletes like being in Calgary because of the proximity to Hockey Canada,” McGee said. “Until you’re at ice level with these players, you can’t really appreciate the level of play.”

Like most sports, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced creativity when it comes to moving forward.

For the PWHPA, the Dream Gap Tour will continue in 2021 with six showcases across North America, and it’s thanks in part to the largest-ever corporate commitment for pro women’s hockey on this continent.

READ MORE: ‘Buy tickets, go to games’: Brian Burke weighs in on women’s hockey

“The timing, when there’s so much uncertainty for sport, especially female sport, couldn’t be better,” McGee said of Secret Deodorant’s recent $1 million commitment to PWHPA.

“I think while the regions were training hard, working hard, it was really the boost they needed, both in terms of what a donation like that can mean for the female game, but also, when you’re practicing so hard, you don’t really know what’s coming in months, even days, it can be trying.

“It was a boost, and it reiterated that they’re on the right path and that they’re working toward something that will, hopefully, better the game.”