Furies ready for 3rd CWHL season

Sami Jo Small is starting her 3rd season in the CWHL. Photo courtesy: CWHL (sami250)

She won’t be in the lineup on Oct. 22 in Boston, but Jennifer Botterill is still excited for her former teammates on the CWHL’s Toronto Furies.

Not only did the Canadian Women’s Hockey League merge with the Western Women’s Hockey League last April to form a single unit in North America, but Calgary was added as a fifth team with Toronto, Montreal, Brampton, Burlington and Boston.

This provides an opportunity to grow and develop the sport with more women who will join the league, and raise even more the high standard of competition, Botterill believes.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist considers the CWHL a great environment for elite hockey players, and an excellent league for the growth and development of women’s hockey.

“There are players with tremendous talent on all rosters,” said Botterill, who retired after the 2010-11 season, in an interview with the Toronto Observer. “One of the goals of the Toronto team will likely be to create a great atmosphere within the program.

“They have drafted a few exciting young players that will add to their roster’s strength.”

Sami Jo Small, one of the three Toronto goalies, agrees.

“Our other National team members were drafted to Toronto this year including Jesse Scanzano and Mallroy Delluce,” said Small, to the Observer.

“It will be next to impossible to replace Jennifer [Botterill], however these two young players will bring speed, skill and youth to our team as we look to duplicate our great performance in the playoffs last year.”

A recent graduate from Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, where she played four years, Scanzano is excited to begin her first season with the Furies.

“When I was drafted I was very excited, because I heard such great things about the league,” said Scanzano, who is in the national program for five years. “I was thrilled to be a member of an excellent team that made it to the finals last year.”

Although last year was a great success for the CWHL, Scanzano thinks this year will be better due to the arrival of a new contingent of young talented players.

“It should be an exciting year and I’m excited to play against the best players in the world.”

Not only there is a new group of rookies added to a core of experienced veterans on the Toronto’s roster, but there is also a new coach.

A new direction

Chris Brennan is the new bench boss of the Toronto Furies and in the job he saw a good opportunity to work alongside elite players.

“They can both relate to and will benefit from what I have to offer,” he said.

Brennan coached Midget AAA and Junior B, and also worked with a coach who spent nine seasons as an assistant to Mike Keenan, and a couple of others who have experience in the Memorial Cup, Winter Olympics and World Cups.

“I have been fortunate to work and learn from some outstanding coaches,” said Brennan. “Much of my daily practice planner, seasonal plan and game-time strategy come directly from the playbooks of these coaches.”

With a new coaching and management staff, the team will need time to understand and adjust to Brennan’s coaching philosophy.

“It involves creating a very professional environment where everyone is accountable to their position and has a defined role to play regardless of offensively of defensively,” said Brennan.

“I’m not here to re-invent the wheel, but work with passionate and skilled athletes who have a common desire to enhance their skills and compete for a championship.”

The ultimate goal is to win the Clarkson Cup — the league championship, and the team already began working towards it.

With the passion he has seen in the players combined with their work ethic and overall skill level, Brennan is confident in accomplishing it.

The Furies start their season on the road against Boston on Oct. 22, and their home opener is on Oct. 30 at a site to be announced.