Ste. Anne native Jocelyne Larocque was selected second overall in the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League draft and says it is an honour and dream come true.
“There are so many incredible players in the draft. Some players are just out of college, and some players like myself who have been out of college for many years now, so, a big variety of players,” she says. “And it’s a huge honour.”
There are six teams in the league, and they will start a 24-game season in January 2024.
The 35-year-old defenseman was drafted this month by Toronto.
“It’s the team that I wanted to play for,” says Larocque. “Obviously, I would have played for any of the teams, but for all of it to work out in this way, I’m just very grateful.”
The other cities with teams include Montreal and Ottawa on the Canadian side of the border. They are joined by three American teams in Boston, New York and Minnesota.
On draft day, Larocque was in Toronto to take in the energy of the event.
“I had some high expectations, and it surpassed all my expectations,” she says. “There were so many people there, it was run smoothly, the energy there was so dynamic, and it was great! It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
Larocque will be joined in Toronto by fellow Manitoban, goaltender Kristen Campbell, Natalie Spooner, Sarah Nurse, Blayre Turnbull and Renata Fast.
Looking at the roster for her new team, Larocque feels good about their chances of having a successful season.
“I think we have some really gritty, fast players; we have players that can score, I think we have a really good mix of younger players and more experienced, veteran players like myself. I might be a little bit biased, but I think we are the team to beat.”
The name of the Toronto team, its colours, and home venue has yet to be announced.
When she looks at the people backing the new league, Larocque feels it is solid and shaping up to be a great thing for women’s hockey.
“It’s everything I dreamt about as a kid up until even last year, just wanting a sustainable professional league. And we have it now.”
She says the league exists not only because of the players, but also because of the owners who are as passionate as the players about getting this league going.
“It’s something that is going to be phenomenal and a league that young girls can aspire to play in one day.”
Larocque previously played in the Canadian and Western Women's Hockey Leagues and most recently with the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association which is now part of the PWHL. As a Canadian National team member, she has two Olympic gold medals, an Olympic silver, and multiple World Championship medals to her name.
-With files from Clayton Dreger.
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