Ottawa’s PWHLers appreciate where they are on Women’s Day

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PWHL Ottawa “celebrated” International Women’s Day with a practice at TD Place focused on making the improvements that will help the team snap a two-game losing streak against first-place Montreal at Place Bell in Laval on Sunday.

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Afterwards, assistant coach Hayley Irwin made a strong point in stating that hopefully, IWD will become less and less of an occasion to celebrate.

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“I think it’s an important day right now, to celebrate those that have come before us and have pushed the envelope, whether it’s in leadership positions, business positions, sport positions …” Irwin said. “I think the long-term goal, though, would be that International Women’s Day wouldn’t be as big as it is because there’d be more equality and less of a celebration of that, and more of a norm.”

Like others blessed with her hockey-playing talents, Irwin, a 35-year-old product of Thunder Bay who was a teammate of head coach Carla MacLeod with the national team, could only dream of there one day being a women’s professional hockey league in North America.

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“When we were playing we were trying to get our sport to where it is today,” she said. “It never quite got there for me as a player, but I’m extremely grateful and honoured to be a part of it as a coach.”

When asked what a day annually recognizing the women’s rights movement meant to her, captain Brianne Jenner paused and wondered if it was an “answerable” question.

She then proceeded to give a good answer.

“I think it’s a bit more celebratory in our space this year, with what’s been created and the energy we have around us,” she said in reference to the first-year league.  “I feel just really grateful in a day like this that I get to go to work and be surrounded by so many inspiring women.”

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With season ending injuries to forwards Kristen Della Rovere and Fanni Gasparics, PWHL Ottawa has scooped 26-year old winger Samantha “Sammy” Davis off Boston’s reserve list.

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Davis, who was the first-overall pick of the Boston Pride in the 2020 NWHL draft after two years as captain of the Boston University Terriers, has lived in Beantown her whole life.

While no one is saying she’ll make her PWHL debut on Sunday, chances appear to be pretty good.

“It was a long time coming and I had to be really patient, but the opportunity presented itself and I moved here in 24 hours … it was really exciting,” Davis said of getting claimed by Ottawa and being elevated to an active roster. “I just can not wait, whenever that that time comes, I’m just going to hopefully seize it and really just show the team and show everybody out there what I have to offer this league and the type of player that I am.

“I’m just excited to contribute to the team and be around great girls that make me better, and hopefully contribute to to their team and be successful.”

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Davis attended last Saturday’s home game at TD Place against Toronto, which was played before a capacity crowd.

“I was just standing here and looking up into the stands, and I’m like, wow,” she said. “I thought Boston sports are crazy, but this place is jumping. It’s really cool to see fans and people just support women’s hockey and just women’s sports in general.

“I was getting chills just standing here and knowing that I’m a part of this now, so yeah, when the time comes, if I dress in a home game, I don’t think I’ll have any words.”


While it’s very likely No. 1 goalie Emerance Maschmeyer will be back in goal for Sunday’s game, Sandra Abstreiter proved she can get the job done when she made her second start of the season in Minnesota on Tuesday.

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The 5-foot-11 product of Freising, Germany, who made 33 starts at the NCAA level for the Providence Friars in the 2022-23 season, Abstreiter stopped 43-of-46 shots in a the 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota.

“I was super excited to get another start,” said Abstreiter, who was injured in the first period of her first game and was solid while coming on in relief of Maschmeyer against Toronto last weekend. “I felt a lot of support from my teammates throughout the whole time, like going to the rink and then everyone was like kind of like tapping me on the shoulder, then obviously they did really well like helping me out clearing rebounds, blocking shots and all that.

“It was a lot of fun to play the full game.”

Despite just two previous PWHL appearances, the 25-year old showed no signs of rust.

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“At the start my college career I was kind in a similar situation,” she said. “It’s kind of like that’s how it is for a lot of goalies going to college, there’s usually a starter at that school already. So I kind of had, let’s say experience with that, and what you have to do in those in those situations is compete in every practice, like pretend those are your games like you have to be there 100% every time.

“So that’s kind of what I what I tried to do, and I guess it kind of worked.”

Abstreiter said her biggest supporter is Maschmeyer.

“Our relationship is really great,” she said. “We support each other a lot. Throughout the whole game, whenever I came to the bench, she was super supportive, like she was kind of making jokes when she like knew I needed them, kind of like keep it loose a little bit, like the mood and stuff.

“I really appreciate that and even after the game she was like, ‘sure it was a loss, but like you did as much as you can to help us get at least a one point.’”

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