Marie-Philip Poulin made the Canadian Women’s Hockey League a personal event on Friday night in Toronto.
The Les Canadiennes de Montreal forward claimed all three of the major awards at the league’s annual celebration, including here third most valuable player nod, the Angela James Bowl for most point, and the Jayne Hefford Trophy for the woman voted by players as best in the loop.
She credited her teammates and the organization for her success while maintaining humility through all the accolades.
“We have a great organization year after year, we have great players coming in and it’s a family, we learn to play together, we practice every day and we push each other,” said Poulin, who acknowledged the league wide recognition.
“Getting votes from not only my teammates but from across the league is very touching.”
This past Wednesday the National Hockey League Players Association released its player poll and in a tight vote revealed Poulin’s teammate, Hilary Knight, as the best current female hockey player.
Knight who won Olympic gold with Team USA in Pyeong Chang, has won seven World Championships and shares the same sentiment as her teammate on the feeling of being viewed as the best.
“I mean it’s a huge honour to be recognized one of the top players in the game especially by your male peers — we have a lot of great women in the sport of hockey so it’s really humbling,” said the California native.
Another Les Canadiennes player, Erin Ambrose, took home the defenceman of the year award. She had a career year in 26 games and produced six goals and 18 assists.
Ambrose didn’t hold back her praise of one of the games greats.
“She (Poulin) works her tail off every single day and I honestly don’t think there is someone who works harder or is a better leader in woman’s hockey or the game of hockey that I have ever come across,” said the Keswick, Ontario native.
“To have somebody so humble that I get to be around every day; there’s a reason I’m able to be up for an award like this and Poulin is a huge reason for that.”
Another notable award winner was Victoria Bach, of the Markham Thunder, who took home Rookie of the Year and finished tied for fourth in league scoring with 32 points, that included 19 goals and 13 assists in 26 games.
“Coming from college to the CWHL is a lot different, so for me with the transition I just went in with an open mind and used what I can bring to the team and hopefully help us out,” said Bach. “Obviously there are still things that I can improve on and keep getting stronger and get ready for next season so I am already excited for that.”
Coach of the Year honours also went to a member of the Thunder as Jim Jackson guided Markham to a third place finish with 13 wins and 11 losses with one loss in the shootout.
The former professional hockey player credits his team for buying into the system and an overall team first mentality.
“We stressed teamwork with the Thunder and to see one of our teammates win an award it’s fantastic and as a coach you look for support from all the girls and your coaching staff so to be up there and to accept an award as coach of the year it goes out to the team,” said Jackson. “We’re going to develop and we are going to get better and hopefully next year we’re on the stage and in the Clarkson Cup.”
Alex Rigsby of the Calgary Inferno took home Goaltender of the Year. The American played in her first professional season, appeared in 17 games and finished with 14 wins and posting a 2.04 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.
While the award was a nice honour, the Wisconsin native knows that the season isn’t over yet.
“We’re just really looking forward to it [Clarkson Cup] and hopefully we can end the season on a good note— but it’s going to be a battle out there and we need to make sure we’re prepared and be ready to do what we need to be successful,” said Rigsby.
The Calgary Inferno and Les Canadiennes de Montreal will face off on Sunday at noon in the Clarkson Cup final at the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, to determine the CWHL champion.
The game can be seen live on Sportsnet across Canada and TVA Sports for French speaking viewers.
The two teams will be meeting in the final for the third time in the last four years and will feature 17 Olympians and over 20 national players.
It has been a dynamic start to 2019 in women’s hockey, beginning with this past NHL All-Star skills competition, the Canada – USA Rivalry Series and a NHLPA vote that sparks healthy debate on who the best is. The 12th annual Canadian Women’s Hockey League Awards looked to build off that and recognized its stars kicking off the championship Clarkson Cup weekend.
“I’ve got three girls so this really matters to me,” said former NHL goaltender Glenn Healey. “When I started playing, I don’t think there was a girl playing — now you got entire teams and girls playing with guys, girls at the all-star game and girls on TV breaking down plays at the NHL Network, we’re going big places.”