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PWHL Ottawa’s success marked both on and off the ice

Excitement is brewing for PWHL Ottawa’s final home game of the regular season Saturday afternoon at TD Place. Following a close win Wednesday against Boston, Ottawa players were hard at work Friday morning prepping for the upcoming match against Montreal.

This first PWHL season saw record-breaking crowds coming out for the Ottawa team – marking history for women’s hockey – and Carla MacLeod is continuing to build upon this momentum.

“This community has rallied the entire season, and I think it’s been part of our foundation as a team as we’ve gotten better and better,” said MacLeod.

As the team went head-to-head in a warmup match, the Kingston Ice Wolves watched intently from the stands. For the young girls, the morning offered a chance to watch and meet their hockey heroes.

“Just knowing that we could be that when we’re older now – it’s just amazing,” said Charlotte Benn.

“It’s really hard to express what we’re feeling because it’s just so much,” said Quinn Freeman.

The Kingston Ice Wolves got the chance to meet their hockey heroes on Apr. 26, 2024 (Sam Houpt/CTV News)

The same was true for minor leagues across the region that are in agreement: this was a season to remember.

“Now that we have something to dream about and go for, it’s incredible how popular it has gotten throughout these three months,” said Gloucester Cumberland Stars player Kalea Quintanilla. “There’s a lot of history being made at the moment.”

Ottawa teacher Ashley Cathcart-McKinnon says the PWHL’s success has become a source of inspiration to share with her students.

“This has helped kids learn more about hockey – it’s a strong movement and very exciting to the point where I’ve gone to a lot of the home games,” she said.

Fans attribute the surge in popularity to the league’s cultivation of talent.

“You’re going to see Olympic gold and silver medalists, some of the best players in the U.S., Canada, and around the world,” said Patrick Trudeau.

“Before it was like, ‘should I watch NCAA or should I watch the international tournament?’ – Now, if you want to know who the best professional women’s hockey team is, watch PWHL,” said fan Jarrad Haas.

The PWHL logo on the TD Centre rink. Apr. 26, 2024 (Sam Houpt/CTV News)

Saturday’s game has already sold out – the stakes of making the playoffs setting the tone for ticket holders.

“I’m a Sens and Redblacks fan and they’ve had a long playoff drought,” said Haas. “PWHL Ottawa has a chance to put that to an end.”

Ottawa will face down Montreal Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at TD Place. 

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