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NWHL expands to Toronto

After five seasons, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) has its first Canadian team, with a strong ownership group bringing an expansion team to Toronto.

The name, venues, additional staff and other news for Toronto’s NWHL team will be announced in the weeks and months ahead. Beginning today, fans can go to to submit their ideas for the name, color and designs for Toronto’s team. 

The ownership team is led by Johanna Neilson Boynton, who played four years at Harvard, serving as captain for two seasons, and is the CEO and co-Founder of Boynton Brennan Builders. Sports team owner and executive Tyler Tumminia, who in recent years was a key executive with the Goldklang Group when it won Organization of the Year Award from sister site Ballpark Digest and received the Game Changer award from Sports Business Journal, will serve as the club’s chairman. Digit Murphy, who has more than three decades of experience leading teams at Brown University and in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, has been named President. Murphy will oversee the hiring of a general manager and head coach for Toronto’s team. 

“We aspire to build a perennial Isobel Cup contender for Toronto,” said Boynton via league press statement. “This will be an organization with strong fan, community and corporate support, outstanding coaching, training, and player development, and a club dedicated to promoting hockey as a game for everyone. Although this pandemic is challenging everyone in profound ways today, and we are very mindful of that, our outlook for women’s sports remains positive. We are launching this team now because we believe in the future. 

“The advancement of a professional women’s hockey league for Canada and the U.S., one that will stand and flourish on its own, is a passion for me and everyone associated with the NWHL,” continued Boynton. “We are driven every day to increase the opportunities available to women’s hockey players of all ages, and that’s what this expansion is all about. There is so much potential, and Toronto is the logical next step. I look forward to working closely with players, staff, sponsors, and fans to give Toronto the team the community deserves.” 

“Toronto is without question the sports capital of Canada,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “The addition of a Toronto team for the National Women’s Hockey League is most welcome by our city and one that I know many Torontonians will embrace as they have with all of our other sports teams. Our city has a rich history with professional women’s hockey and we are excited to begin this next chapter with the NWHL. I hope that this team achieves success and longevity in our city and that this team will serve as an inspiration for young girls to pursue careers in professional sports.” 

As the NWHL enters its sixth season, the addition of Toronto brings the league to six teams. The Minnesota Whitecaps joined the NWHL in 2018 after the league was launched in 2015 with four teams: Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and Metropolitan (NY-NJ) Riveters. The 2020-21 regular season is scheduled to start in mid-November, with each team playing 20 games. The Isobel Cup Playoffs begin in mid-March and will be completed by the end of the month – two weeks before the opening of the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia. 

“Today is just the start,” said Murphy, who is also an entrepreneur whose latest initiative is dedicated to providing female leaders to the corporate workforce. “We have plenty of work ahead. Our team in Toronto is led by women, and we are providing opportunities and jobs in the GTA for hockey players, coaches, and staff. This team will proudly represent Toronto and compete for the NWHL championship, and will also be dedicated to empowering younger female athletes through community engagement and education. We welcome everyone who wants to be part of a challenging and rewarding venture.” 

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