The Professional Women’s Hockey League’s Toronto team will be playing their home games at Mattamy Athletic Centre for the 2023-24 season.
“Mattamy has served as a host for several professional women’s hockey events over the past few years,” explained Nick Asquini, citing the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association showcase in 2020 and Premier Hockey Federation all-star game earlier this year. “It made sense for the leadership of the Toronto franchise and the league to seek out Mattamy as a home venue.”
This news was initially reported by The Messenger via “sources familiar with the league’s plans,” but it was officially confirmed by Asquini, TMU Bold’s director of sports operations, in an email to On The Record.
The PWHL season is set to begin in January, filling the gap of professional women’s hockey left by the defunct Premier Hockey Federation (2015-2023) and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (2014-2019). In its inaugural season, the league will have five teams for Toronto to play against: Ottawa, Montreal, New York, Minnesota, and Boston.
Toronto’s PWHL team has already signed 2022 Olympic gold medalists Sarah Nurse, Renata Fast, Emma Maltais, and Blayre Turnbull, along with recent Princeton Tigers alumni Maggie Connors and CWHL veteran Rebecca Leslie.
“Finding the right facilities to host training, practices, and games and establishing cooperative relationships with all venues has been a key priority across the PWHL for several months,” wrote a league spokesman in a statement to On The Record. “We know that the venue partnerships we’re working towards will provide the environment needed for our athletes to develop and compete at the highest level this season.”
According to Asquini, the PWHL’s use of the MAC was coordinated by Oakview Group, an event management company contracted by TMU to coordinate external events so as to not conflict with University events. TMU Bold’s men and women’s hockey team both have games scheduled at the MAC rink along with the 2024 Grand Slam of Curling during the PWHL’s season; the official schedule is yet to be released.
The MAC stands on the grounds of the former Maple Leaf Gardens, where the Toronto Maple Leafs won all 11 of their Stanley Cups (another two were won as the Arenas and St. Patricks respectively) before the team moved into the Scotiabank Arena—then the Air Canada Centre—in 1999. While the location of the historic ice pad is now a Loblaws, the third floor was renovated and opened as an arena for TMU.
The MAC is not the only connection that TMU has to the PWHL; former staff and students are peppered throughout the Canadian teams. Alana Goulden shifted from TMU Bold’s manager of operations to PWHL Toronto’s hockey operations manager. Meanwhile, former Bold women’s hockey lead assistant coach Haley Irwin now serves as PWHL Ottawa’s assistant coach, while her former player Olivia Giardetti is the team’s hockey operations manager. In Montreal, the former men’s hockey lead assistant coach Kori Cheverie is now the PWHL team’s head coach.
“It is still very early for the PWHL as they are still building a schedule and coordinating operations of their league for the first season,” said Asquini. “If there are opportunities to co-promote or work together we would be very excited to connect with the league or specifically the Toronto franchise.”
Asquini said physical changes to the MAC for the new team are a “likely no.” He added that while there are also no immediate plans for long-term branding or promotional assets, that could change depending on the desires of the franchise.
PWHL Toronto has yet to announce their team name, but according to Detroit Hockey Net, the PWHL has filed a trademark for the Toronto Torch.
Drew-Anne, or Drew, is a Master of Journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She previously received an Honours BA in International Relations and Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies. Her freelance work can be found in Ottawa Magazine and Spacing. She previously served as editorial fellow for This Magazine and is now the Head of Research at The Otter.