Wiky hockey player signs with new US pro women’s hockey league

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT— Wikwemikong band member Kelly Babstock will be playing in the inaugural season of the National Women’s Hockey League.

“I attended a camp in the spring and I officially signed my contract with the Connecticut Whale on Tuesday, August 4,” Ms. Babstock told The Expositor, noting that the date was of significance to her as it was also her birthday and the anniversary of her great grandfather’s funeral. “I’m pretty excited. This is the first professionally paid women’s hockey league and I am pleased that I get to be a part of it and help grow women’s hockey. It is a huge honour.”

“When I was little there was no league like this,” continued Ms. Babstock. “It will give girls a chance to aspire to play pro.”

“Kelly is one of the more creative stickhandlers and natural scorers that will be playing in this league,” commented Connecticut Whale General Manager Harry Rosenholtz (who also coached Ms. Babstock when she played for Quinnipiac University) in a NWHL press release. “Kelly has an amazing spirit and a great enthusiasm for hockey. She is a spectator’s dream.”

Kelly Babstock signs her name to a  contract with the NWHL Connecticut Whale.
Kelly Babstock signs her name to a
contract with the NWHL Connecticut Whale.

The NWHL was established earlier this year, with the league comprised of four teams: the Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale. The teams will compete throughout the hockey season starting this fall, on the road to the league’s championship and trophy, the Isobel Cup, named after the daughter of the donator of the Standley Cup, Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy, who herself was one of the first known women to play hockey.

Unlike the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, players in the NWHL will receive modest salaries, averaging $15,000 annually.

“It will be a modest salary, but they are trying to grow something that is pretty amazing,” said Ms. Babstock. “I graduated from Quinnipiac University this spring with a criminal justice degree, so I will be looking for a job in my field as well.”

Ms. Babstock grew up in Mississauga, but her family is from Wikwemikong, where she returns to visit her family’s cottage every summer.

The rising hockey star got her start skating on her dad’s homemade rinks and looking up to both her dad, a past junior and major hockey player, and brother, who plays lacrosse for the Calgary Roughnecks.

Ms. Babstock was Quinnipiac University’s all-time leading scorer.

As a freshman, she finished fifth in the entire nation in scoring with 59 points (30 goals and 29 assists), earning her the ECAC’s Player of the Year Award.

She went on to be named to the All-ECAC’s Second Team in 2011-12 and broke the program’s career records in all three offensive categories.

In her senior season, she earned her fourth-straight New England Division title and was once again named to the All-ECA First Team in addition to becoming the first Quinnipiac player to be named a top 10 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Finalist.

Ms. Babstock finished her hockey career with the Quinnipiac Bobcats with 95 goals, 108 assists and 203 out of 147 games.