Provided by Melissa Armstrong. Edited by Total Sports Media

Women’s Hockey is on the move in North America. Opportunities for young women to pursue hockey careers at academic institutions in both Canada and the U.S have grown exponentially.

With the emergence of the Premier Hockey Federation(Formerly the NWHL) and the elite Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, the awareness of elite women’s hockey has grown.

Many are hopeful that this momentum will lead to a truly professional league, like the WNBA, for women’s hockey. Quinte and the surrounding area have and are producing a number of elite world-class athletes that will have tremendous futures in hockey. This is a brief overview of some notables.

Hanna Bunton, a Cornell graduate, came out of the Belleville Bearcats Organization and played in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). After playing with the U18 Team Canada team (winning gold), her international experience was expanded into the Team Canada Development squad and Hanna has been a key figure in the PWHPA after the collapse of the CWHL.

While in the CWHL, Hanna played for the Vance Rays, also known as the Kunlun Red Star team in Shenzhen China that played in the CWHL.

Hanna is currently working for Hockey Canada in an administrative role and will continue playing in tour events with the PWHPA while advocating and growing women’s hockey. She was recently featured on the cover of Elle Canada.

Maddie Wheeler, a Stone Mills native, played her minor hockey with the Quinte Red Devils Association and then graduated to Junior hockey playing for Nepean and Kingston in the PWHL.

She appeared twice in the U18 World Championships representing Canada and taking home a gold and a silver medal. Most notably, Maddie scored the overtime winner that captured the gold medal in her first year with Team Canada U18.

Maddie’s winning ways continued as she joined the Wisconsin Badgers on a full hockey scholarship and enjoyed an NCAA championship in her freshman season. This success led to an invite the the U23 Development Squad for Team Canada this past summer.

Because of her strong showing she was invited to skate with the Main Team Canada team as they prepared for the 2021 World championships this past July/August. This opportunity clearly shows that Maddie is squarely on the radar with Team Canada as she enters her sophomore season in the NCAA.

Alexa Hoskin, another Belleville Bearcat and Kingston PWHL standout, is currently in her junior year at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Quinnipiac is coached by Campbellford native Cassie Turner who has been a coach with the U18 Canadian National team after a strong NCAA career at Brown university.

Alexa has started the 2021-22 season strong on a very talented team currently ranked #8 in the Nation for NCAA hockey. She has emerged as one of the offensive leaders on a very potent offence.

This tremendous start to the season pays tribute to Alexa’s off season work and will put her on the radar for Team Canada and the professional women’s ranks going forward.

Another pro prospect is Brighton resident, Rae Ann Breton is off to a great start at University of New Hampshire. The Wildcats are perennial contenders in Hockey East.

Zoe Uens, a Rossmore resident, is currently playing for Kingston in the PWHL. She is committed to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut  where Alexa Hoskin is currently playing.

Zoe Uens, a Rossmore resident, is currently playing for Kingston in the PWHL She is committed to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut where Alexa Hoskin is currently playing. Zoe was named to the Team Canada roster that would have played in Sweden in January at the scheduled World championships had it not been for Covid 19 cancellations.

Team Canada invited that U18 roster this past summer to Calgary to train with the upcoming U18 hopefuls as well as the U23 Development squad under the label of the “NextGen” team.

Zoe will be attending Quinnipiac University on a full scholarship in 2022-23 and will be watched closely by Hockey Canada as she develops.

Brighton native Sara Roger was invited to the U18 Team Canada Selection Camp this past summer. Sara is committed to Colgate University in the NCAA on a full ride scholarship and currently plays for Kingston in the PWHL. The final roster will be announced in December for the U18 team that will compete in Sweden for the U18 World championship in January. Sara was recently named to the Team Ontario Red U18 Squad as well. Good luck Sara!

Annabelle Phillips, a Madoc resident, is currently playing with the Kingston IceWolves of the PWHL. She recently committed to play hockey at Yale University and will begin studies ther in 2023. A standout goalie in the PWHL, Phillips played boys hockey in Madoc before joining the Belleville Bearcats and the Ice Wolves.

Taylor Gilmour a Napanee native is currently playing for the Kingston IceWolves of the PWHL The 6’3” Gilmour has some great hockey bloodlines as she is a niece of former Bull Jake Gilmour and ex Pro Brian Coughlin as well as a cousin of former Bulls Captain and Ex Pro Matt Coughlin. Taylor has garnered a lot of NCAA attention and recently committed to Providence College for a full scholarship .She was also recently named to the Team Ontario Blue team which is a development squad that competes at the national U18 tournament annually.

Taryn Rathwell, from Belleville, is a graduate of the Belleville Bearcats and Wellington Lady Dukes program. She is now entering her second year with the Kingston IceWolves of the PWHL and has been on the radar of a number of schools. At press time Total Sports was notified that Taryn was committing to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) which has a tremendous hockey tradition in Troy NY.

There are a number of Quinte area players playing in Canadian USports and NCAA Division 3 hockey as well. Too many to name here. If anyone wishes to provide updates of other players from the region, please forward to the Total Sports Quinte website.

The success of these young women as well as the quality of so many up and coming players in the minor system speaks volumes to the job being done locally by organizations, coaches and skill providers to develop so many quality players from one region.