With rise of CWHL and NWHL, women's pro hockey starting to gain serious traction
Scott Stinson: The CWHL has sprung from modest roots — and is still modest — but growth is trending in the right direction

TORONTO — At an arena in west Toronto one morning this week, the best women’s hockey players in Canada finished a scrimmage against each other, and then went to a shootout.

There was nothing on the line. It was the end of a game during the national women’s team training camp, and a good way to get some work in for the goalies.

The netminders, Charline Labonté at one end and Erica Howe at the other, then proceeded to build sprawling, lunging walls in their creases, as attempt after attempt was turned away. Hayley Wickenheiser burst toward Howe, then cut across the face of the net but lost the handle on a backhand attempt with the goalie prone. Sarah Davis faked a backhand deke at full speed, then jammed on the brakes, pulled the puck back to her forehand, but Labonté still got a pad on the shot. Such a filthy move deserved a better fate. Finally, it was Tara Watchorn, a defender on the Sochi gold-medal team, who motioned toward her backhand, then spun around to her forehand to slam a goal home.

It was a dazzling display of talent and skill. There were maybe a dozen people watching. 

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