The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) has announced that it will expand to Toronto.
The unnamed Toronto team will become the league’s first Canadian team, filling a void left by the Toronto Furies in 2019, after the CWHL folded.
They’ll try building on the success of the 2014 Clarkson Cup champions, checking a major box on the NWHL to-do list, expanding to one of their biggest unfilled hockey markets.
The team is already filled with championship pedigree. Its ownership group is being led by the likes of Johanna Boynton, a former Harvard captain and namesake of the Johanna “JoJo” Boynton award, given to the person who, without garnering recognition or praise, has positively influenced the women’s Harvard hockey program with a tremendous attitude, passion for the sport and a willingness to help in any capacity, while sharing in HH’s commitment to excellence.
The president of the team is former Brown University coach Margaret (Digit) Murphy. Murphy is a legendary coach, she broke the record for most NCAA D1 Women’s Hockey wins with 318(!). After leaving Brown, success followed her to the Boston Blades, where she won two Clarkson Cups, leading the team to play in the Cup Finals in each of the three seasons she spent there. She spent the next season with the expansion Kunlun Red Stars, who she also coached to the Clarkson Cup Finals. Where Coach Murphy goes, success follows, and Toronto is hoping that it applies to President Murphy too.
Tyler “Ty” Tumminia is known for overseeing many minor league baseball franchises as former senior vice president of the Goldklang Group, which has ownership in 4 minor league baseball teams. She has an ownership stake in the Pittsfield Suns, one of the teams partially owned by the Goldklang Group. Baseball runs in the Tumminia family, her father, John, worked as a scout for the Chicago White Sox. Some Toronto fans may be familiar with her husband, Ben Cherington, who worked as VP of Baseball Operations for four years for the Blue Jays. However, Tumminia will be the first to venture into hockey. Her success and experience are bound to help Toronto to the top of the league.
The club also announced 5 of their inaugural signings.
Shiann Darkangelo is an excellent signing for Toronto. If you were a Furies fan, or are just an avid follower of women’s hockey, Shiann Darkangelo should be a very familiar name. After starring for Syracuse and Quinnipiac University, Darkangelo had a spectacular rookie season in the NWHL. With the Connecticut Whale, Darkangelo led all U23 NWHL players in goals, points and points per game, with 10 goals for 13 points in 13 games. She helped the USA Women’s team to World Championship gold, with 4 points in 5 games. After a season with the Buffalo Beauts where she finished 3rd in goals scored among U24 NWHLers, she made the move to the CWHL. With the expansion Kunlun Red Stars, Darkangelo played a key offensive role while being coached by now-Toronto president Digit Murphy.
After a season with the Toronto Furies, Darkangelo made the move to the PWHPA. Unfortunately, the PWHPA doesn’t really provide stats for their games, but the 26-year-old forward stayed close to Toronto, playing for GTA West.
Darkangelo reunites with Murphy, returns to Toronto, and will look to carry the play that made her a 2x NWHL All-Star and Isobel Cup champ.
Taylor Woods’ stats may not jump off the page, but her dedication and versatility make her a great signing for Toronto. Woods starred for Cornell and was their assistant captain during her final season. A forward, she notably shifted to the blue line when her team needed it during her final two seasons. She’s known for being a faceoff specialist, known for being a hard-working playmaker. Although the 25-year-old’s presence might not stand out, she’s definitely a great signing for the team. Woods is familiar with the Toronto area. She played for the Brampton/Markham Thunder during her 3-year CWHL career and played for GTA West with the PWHPA.
Kristen Barbara is another player familiar with the Toronto area. Before joining the PWHPA, the Mount Hope native played the last 8 seasons with York University and the Brampton/Markham Thunder. The defenseman is known for her offensive prowess from the blue line, as well as her abilities on the power play. The 27-year-old finished 5th in points among CWHL defensemen in her rookie season on her way to becoming a CWHL champion. Toronto will bank on her play carrying over to the NWHL.
Emma Greco may be a familiar name to Furies fans. After her NCAA career at Quinnipiac wrapped up, she joined the Connecticut Whale and played 6 games. She then shifted to the CWHL, joining the Toronto Furies to play 23 games. Greco isn’t known for her offensive production. Her biggest strength is her defensive game and her physical play. The 25-year-old defenseman has stayed close to Toronto, joining GTA West while with the PWHPA.
After winning gold for Canada during the Women’s U18 World Junior Championships, Elaine Chuli enjoyed a successful career with the University of Connecticut, donning a stellar .941 SV% during her senior year. During her rookie season, Chuli posted a solid .913 SV%. While splitting time with Shea Tiley, her numbers dropped slightly, as she put up a .899 SV%. The 25-year-old is set to be Toronto’s starter and will bank on having a bounceback season.
There are a few notable takeaways from this group. All are former PWHPA members, and all have some sort of history with the Toronto Furies/Markham Thunder organization.
It looks like Toronto will look to sign PWHPA players familiar with the Toronto market. Possibly using the location and familiarity as a draw-in. It’ll be interesting to see the roster come together and how that pattern holds up.
In the end, I’m super stoked to have the NWHL come to Toronto. If you have any ideas for a name, take a look here to submit your ideas!
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