Maggie Connors of St. John's was one of 90 players drafted into the Professional Women's Hockey League on Monday. She'll play for the Toronto franchise. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)
Hockey fans in Newfoundland and Labrador will have another pro player to cheer for when the Professional Women's Hockey League kicks off this winter.
Maggie Connors of St. John's was one of 90 players selected in Monday's inaugural PWHL entry draft, taken 62nd overall in the 11th round by Toronto.
The 22-year-old graduated in May from Princeton University, where she played NCAA hockey.
"I finally, you know, am going to be able to play in a professional league against the best players in the world," Connors said Wednesday in St. John's.
"The players that I'm going to be playing alongside and the people there are incredible.… I'm going to develop a lot as a player and, you know, [to] be able to play with them, I can't wait."
The PWHL, founded earlier this year, comprises six teams — Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, New York and Minneapolis-St. Paul — and will feature some of the best talent the women's game has to offer.
While team names and logos haven't been revealed yet, Connors said playing hockey in Toronto will be special.
"It's a huge hockey market as it is. We're going to have, you know, really supportive fans, maybe some critics as well," she said. "And obviously my brother is from Toronto, so there will be family around, too."
Connors joins the PWHL after graduating from Princeton University. (Shelley M. Szwast/Princeton Tigers)
Connors has been around hockey since the age of four. She spent years playing in local boy's divisions before moving to a boarding school in Minnesota to pursue a career in hockey.
She also has experience with Team Canada, representing the red and white at the Women's Under-18 World Championships.
Connors said the creation of the league is a huge step forward for the women's game and she said she was grateful to those who played before her who made it a reality.
"I'm lucky enough to be joining this league right as [I'm] coming out of university, but, you know, it's huge thanks to everyone who didn't have that opportunity. Because they pushed for many, many years," she said. "Unfortunately other leagues folded and everything, but you know that's just all a progression to what we have today."
Connors added the league is also in a great position to expand, citing the appetite for women's hockey in North America and a collective bargaining agreement that gives players security and pays between $30,000 and $80,000 US per season.
"Obviously there is a discrepancy [between men's and women's pay], but you have to start somewhere," she said. "It sets the standard for professionalism. You know, we are getting paid and players do have those rights, so I think we're stepping off on the right foot."
Connors said she'll take some time to prepare herself and get ready to move to Toronto before training camps begin in November.