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Inspiring a new generation of female hockey players

Creston’s Emma Woods a player to watch in PWHL
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Creston’s Emma Woods plays for New York in the PWHL. (Photo via Instagram)

The first season of the newly formed PWHL (Professional Women’s Hockey League) has me glued to the TV.

If you haven’t picked your team yet, let me give you a nudge — New York.

In particular, 28-year-old New York Forward Emma Woods, #67. She has a star stat list but did you know that the first team she played on at the age of 6 was the Creston Bruins Novice division?

From 2000-2002, her family lived in Creston as her father, Rob Woods worked for Hanson Dairy. They were an active sports family in Creston, with her two brothers in hockey and older sister in dance.

In 2002, the family moved back to Ontario where they all thrived in every sport. Emma excelled in all school sports as well as fastball, softball, soccer and, of course, rep hockey. She was often the only girl on all-boy teams. She was often the captain a leadership award winner.

In 2013, parents Rob and Nancy Woods moved back to Creston to join the Hanson Dairy operation, and they still live here. During this time, they took many trips to watch their daughter play. She played for Quinnipiac University in Connecticut on a full scholarship, serving as captain in her final year. Like all women hockey players at the time she worked her way through the labyrinth of different leagues as they began, merged, then fold, finally crystallizing into the PWHL that began 2023.

The 2018/19 season saw her playing in China, 2020 in Sweden, 2021-2023 with Team Ontario as part of the Toronto Six. She was then drafted to New York in the PWHL first draft. She made the first goal in the pre-season and on Sunday Jan 14, Woods, #67, scored the game winning overtime goal against then undefeated Minnesota.

her parents still fly to some games, but they and the rest of us proud Crestonites can enjoy watching games on CBC, Sportsnet, TSN and YouTube in their home or pubs in town as this six-team league breaks attendance records and inspires a new generation.

By Denise Harris