The one common thread running through all the franchises of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League is a culture of family. While the players of the CWHL play with their heart on the ice, they have also opened their heart in the hopes of accomplishing a mutually satisfying personal life.
With the emotional candor that Lolo Jones displayed about her romantic life at the London 2012 Summer Games, it helped raise awareness that fans need to understand and be considerate. Despite the competitive nature and desire to win that female athletes possess, they also have an affectionate nature.
One of the key aspects of the realm of women’s ice hockey is that it is a supportive environment built on enduring friendships.
It is that level of commitment that helps to provide balance in a sport still looking to gain equality with the men’s game. These remarkable qualities provide the compassion and sensitivity that leads to a rewarding personal life, fostering a sense of confidence and great reward.
In the last year, the CWHL has seen numerous members of its family commit to share their lives with another through the bonds of matrimony. The most famous of these players was Meghan Agosta of the Montreal Stars.
While 2012 saw Agosta break the CWHL regular season scoring record, claim her first Clarkson Cup and join the Triple Gold Club for Women, Agosta’s wedding may have been her greatest accomplishment. The September 1, 2012 wedding to the goalie coach of the QMJHL’s Armada de Boisbriand, Marco Marciano, made national news.
The event occurred in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario. Several members of the Montreal Stars, National Hockey League and the Canadian national women’s team were in attendance to witness the union of two souls for eternity.
Of note, Agosta’s maid of honour was Tessa Bonhomme—the Toronto Furies franchise player \ and one of the most eligible single athletes in Canada. Agosta now joins Stars teammate (and McGill Martlets legend) Carly Dupont-Hill as one of the married members of the squad.
Agosta’s wedding was one of many which saw CWHL players tie the knot to men that had a hockey background. Her teammate at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Meaghan Mikkelson (an alternate captain with Team Alberta), met her husband, goaltender Scott Reid, at an Edmonton 3-on-3 hockey camp where they were both instructing in 2007.
Reid proposed to her in Christmas 2009, while playing with the Alaska Aces. Fortunately for Reid, the Aces played the Victoria Salmon Kings in British Columbia as the Winter Games began. Reid went from the game in Victoria directly to Vancouver so that he could see his fiancée compete against Switzerland. Although Reid has never played in the National Hockey League, he was invited to the Nashville Predators training camp in 2006.
Mikkelson traveled to Arizona prior to the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont to practice with Reid and his team, the Arizona Sundogs. While there has been a brother and sister (Bill and Angela Ruggiero, formerly of the Boston Blades) to have played a professional game together (with the Tulsa Oilers), there has never been a husband and wife to have played together. Should Mikkelson and Reid ever play together for Arizona, it would be a historical event.
One of the fantastic five that helped to form the CWHL, Sami Jo Small committed her life to Billy Bridges. Both have represented Team Canada in international competition, Small at three Winter Games and Bridges at three Paralympic Winter Games (most recently at the 2010 Vancouver Games).
Born with spina bifida, Bridges, the native of Summerside, PEI has competed with the Canadian National Ice Sledge Hockey team since 2000. Bridges has also competed as a professional wheelchair basketball player in Spain. They first crossed paths in 2006, as both were part of the charity Right to Play.
The two would formally meet at the 2007 IIHF Women’s Hockey Championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During one game, the Canadian National Ice Sledge Hockey team played during intermission as part of a demonstration. In later years, Small would stand between the pipes for practices involving Bridges and other ice sledge hockey players. Their mutual love of hockey and each other means that they are truly each other’s number one fans.
Small and Bridges were wed on Canada Day 2011, and according to legend, the two took part in an impromptu hockey game with several of their guests after the wedding. Small’s maid of honour was another co-founder of the CWHL, Jennifer Botterill. The two played together for the Mississauga Chiefs and competed in the championship game of the 2011 Clarkson Cup with the expansion Toronto Furies.
Ashley Riggs, the all-time leading scorer in Niagara Purple Eagles history is an inactive CWHL player with stops including the Burlington Barracudas and the Brampton hockey club. The year 2012 would also see Riggs engage in a lifetime commitment. Of note, she would not be the only woman with ties to Burlington and Brampton to tie the knot.
Drafted by the now defunct Burlington Barracudas in the 2011 CWHL Draft (52nd overall), Melissa Boufounos currently serves as a director of social media for the Brampton hockey club. Aspiring to be a member of the Canadian national ball hockey team, Boufounos tied the knot on September 2, 2012, the same weekend that Agosta was married.
One of the early activists in helping to give women’s hockey a voice, the efforts of Samantha Holmes were immortalized by Brian MacFarlane. The former Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster chronicled her letter writing campaigns, attempting to get women’s ice hockey recognized as a sport in the Winter Games back in the 1980s.
She would eventually become a very talented hockey player and participated with Jayna Hefford and Sommer West at the 1995 Canada Winter Games. In addition, she competed in the NCAA (with future Clarkson Cup champion Winny Brodt-Brown) for the New Hampshire Wildcats. A former member of the Brampton Thunder in the preceding NWHL, Holmes eventually helped form two franchises, the defunct Strathmore Rockies in the WWHL and the current Team Alberta.
Holmes tied the knot in 2011 and gave birth to a daughter in 2012 called Dyllan Harper. It marked the second time in the last year that a member of the CWHL family became a mother. Montreal Stars goaltender (and Triple Gold Club member) Kim St. Pierre, one of the winningest goalies in the history of the IIHF, gave birth to a son named Liam.
The feelings of happiness and vitality that emanate from a compatible and loving partnership provide a great setting for life after hockey.
Despite working hard to build an athletic career, many are now taking the time to enrich their personal lives and build the foundation for a family off the ice. This aspect defines them beyond the concept of athlete and completes them as great people. It provides the women of the CWHL with the understanding that they truly can have it all.