Wednesday, 13 May 2015

NWHL Trophy to be named after first builder of women’s hockey

As the newly conceived NWHL continues to take shape, a key component includes the announcement of a championship trophy. Named after Lady Isobel Stanley (later Gathorne-Hardy), the daughter of Lord Stanley of Preston, whom the iconic Stanley Cup is named after, it is an extension of the family’s historic hockey legacy. As a side note, she was the one who convinced her father to create the Cup. 
Lady Isobel first made her mark on hockey history by participating in the first women’s hockey game. Contested at the Rideau Rink in 1889 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Lady Isobel helped to break hockey’s gender barrier. A number of years later, Lady Minto, the wife of Lord Minto (who would succeed Lord Stanley as Canada’s Governor General) would also take to the ice, surprising many with her strong hockey skills.
In March 2016, players from the NWHL’s four charter franchises (the Boston Pride, the Buffalo Beauts, the Connecticut Whale and the New York Riveters) shall compete for the inaugural Isobel Cup. Should the league manage to acquire free agents from the CWHL, it shall provide an extra element of intrigue to the postseason.
Should any players from the inaugural Isobel Cup championship have earned a Clarkson Cup championship in previous seasons, it would add to the growing lore of women’s hockey. Taking into account that Janine Weber, the first European to score the game-winning goal in a Clarkson Cup final is attending the Connecticut Whale's training camp, she has a special opportunity to be the first European to win both Cups. In addition, the chance for a player to have won both Cups would serve to compose a newfound element of prestige for their careers. 
Of note, the Isobel Cup is not the ony prize named in her honor. Hockey Canada has an award named the Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award, which is awarded to an active player at any level, recognizing values such as leadership and personal traits that set a positive example for all female athletes. Among the most notable winners includes Team Canada alumnae such as Cathy Phillips, Andria Hunter and Caroline Ouellette. 

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