The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is expanding their boundaries internationally.
Commissioner Brenda Andress announced during a press conference in June 5 that the CWHL is welcoming the first professional team from China in the expansion.
“I think the most important news that we have here today, is that this expansion goes along with the CWHL vision and that is to grow the game and create opportunities across the world for women,” said Andress. “I think in today’s world that is important for all us — to continue to look for opportunities that we can grow the women’s game, support women not only on the ice but off the ice to continue to grow our national programs to continue to offer opportunities for young girls across the world to join sport because it gives back in so many different ways.”
Kunlan Red Star, which will play out of a new facility in Shenzhen, China located just outside of Hong Kong, signed a five year deal which starts in the 2017-18 season. The team has already has signed two international players. 2014 Olympic silver medalist from the U.S. national team Kelli Stack, who was recently left off the U.S. centralization roster for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, will be joining the team. Stack has previously won the Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades when she spent three years in the CWHL, before moving to the National Women’s Hockey League to play for the Conneticut Whale. One of the top goaltenders in the world, Noora Raty has also signed on to play with Red Star. The Finnish netminder was playing with a men’s team in her home country. In an announcement made by her former team last week, Raty said the opportunity was so great she could not pass it up.
With the addition of Kunlan Red Star the season will grow to 30 games with each of the five North American Teams (Boston Blades, Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Montreal Canadiennes and Toronto Furies) travelling to play a three-games series in China. Red Star will reciprocate, travelling to Canada to also play three games against each team.
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