Brooke Stacey was disappointed not to be selected in the draft for the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) earlier this month. But then an opportunity came for a second chance, when Stacey was invited to the PWHL Montreal training camp.
At the camp, which starts in Montreal on November 15 and runs until December 7, Stacey will train with the drafted members of the Montreal team in a bid to prove to coaches that she deserves a spot on the roster.
She said she’ll have to blow the coaches away in order to demonstrate that she has the skills to make it in the professional league.
“Obviously, you have to be at your best when you only have that short amount of time to impress people,” she said. “I’m going to show my work ethic. I think I’m a strong skater. I do well with forechecking and being positioned well in the offensive and defensive zone. I think I’m very good at that, that’s my thing.”
Stacey said it’s been important to not let her nerves get the better of her as she prepares for the camp.
“It feels good, I’m excited, but I’m also super nervous. I’m trying not to think about the actual camp. I don’t want to put expectations on myself just yet,” she said. “Obviously that doesn’t mean I’m not putting in the work, because I am, but I’m trying to stay away from the mental side of what comes with a training camp. I’m trying to stick to what I can do now and show up to camp.”
For Stacey, playing in the PWHL is a culmination of decades of hard work to get to where she is today, including playing for the University of Maine, Team Canada’s U18 team, the Buffalo Beauts in New York, and Montreal’s Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) team, the Montreal Force.
Lou Ann Stacey, who is the U15 and U18 hockey director with the Kahnawake Minor Hockey Association (KMHA), said it’s been a pleasure to watch the hockey star grow throughout the years.
“I know that the higher the level, the harder it is to make those teams. She’s a fighter who puts in the work to want to achieve more,” Lou Ann said. “What is also great is that she still finds time to give back to our youth.”
For Brooke, getting a roster spot will dictate whether or not she continues playing professional hockey.
“I think it’s all or nothing. I’d continue doing it for fun, but I think the opportunity to make this team would be huge,” she said. “I try not to think about that too much. I’ll be very emotional if I don’t make the team, because I know it’ll be time to put those skates away for professional hockey. It’s a huge investment for sure. I’m just looking forward to getting to camp and trying my best.”
Lou Ann said that no matter what happens at the training camp, Brooke will continue to be an inspiration to hockey players in the community.
“If you love hockey and put in the work, anything is possible. There are lots of opportunities in sports, and you need to look for them. I believe if our young female players were to ask her, she could provide insights into her experiences and what it takes to play at those levels,” she said. “She is a role model and inspiration for our players and other Indigenous players.”
The PWHL is a new league, replacing the PHF, which was dissolved earlier this year. The league is made up of six teams: Montreal, Toronto, New York, Boston, Ottawa, and Minneapolis–Saint Paul. The league was officially founded at the end of August this year, and the season will run from January to late May or early June.
Brooke said she hopes the PWHL will be a new chapter for women’s hockey and that future generations of players can forge a viable career in the rink.
“With women’s hockey growing now, it’s 100 per cent worth the effort and dedication that you might put in for 15 or 20-plus years to get to this point. I think for the minor hockey players now, the young girls, there will be a league that will be sustainable and give you a liveable wage,” she said. “I think that is more of a motivation and reason to continue, because it can be your job.”
The last day to make the roster for the PWHL is December 7, the same day that training camp ends, though individuals may be released early throughout the camp.