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‘SO SPECIAL’: Milton PWHL player thrilled with boom to local women's hockey

North Halton association sees sharp rise in registration at rep ranks
Victoria Bach is enjoying her first year with Toronto in the PWHL, as well as the growth in local women's hockey.

Victoria Bach looked out at the year-end banquet crowd of roughly 300 players and coaches as she relived her path to what’s now the pinnacle of North American women’s hockey.

The Milton forward had grown close to many in attendance in recent months, regularly helping her hometown Twisters with skills development.

So when a roar of applause rang out at the conclusion of her talk, things got a little emotional

“Seeing all these young girls… thinking of them setting goals and striving to achieve them. It meant so much.” said the former Boston University star this morning, with she and Toronto looking to clinch a best-of-five opening-round sweep in Minnesota and advance to the new PWHL’s inaugural championship final. “It was amazing.” 

That same feeling resurfaced this week, when Bach was asked about the recent surge in registration for the North Halton Girls Hockey Association’s rep ranks, which just happens to coincide with the arrival of women’s pro hockey.

With a record 345 players attending tryouts this spring – up nearly 18 per cent from last year – the association was able to grow from 14 to 17 rep teams. More could have added if ice time availability wasn’t an issue.

“I think that’s (growth) so special,” said Bach, a two-time world champion and 2022 Olympic alternate before being taken as Toronto’s seventh-round pick in the first PWHL draft. “I remember going to the arena with my dad and having to change in the janitor’s room because there were no other girls playing. It shows how far we’ve come.”

NHWHA Director of Rep Teams Cory O’Neill is equally excited about the numbers jump and said he definitely “equates some of that to the PWHL.”

Especially encouraging, he noted, was the addition of rep teams at the younger ranks – one more each at U9, U11 and U13.

Victoria Bach goes over some players with the North Halton Twisters. Supplied photo

“It’s (PWHL) given these girls the opportunity to watch Victoria and the PWHL, and something to dream and aspire to," said O'Neill, adding any PWHL impact on the select and house-league divisions won't be known until their registration is finalized in the summer.

O’Neill estimated that well over half of the Twisters’ rep players made it out to at least one Toronto game this season.

Among them was a small group that – seated in the front row – grabbed a little in-person and TikTok notoriety.

“They had a sign ‘If Toronto wins, coach Chris buys us slushies.’ That got a pretty good chant going and it (video) went viral.” said O’Neill, whose association's High Performance program is now run by U.S. national team member and Waterdown resident Megan Bozek.

Brad Carter is also thrilled about the PWHL startup.

And for good reason.

The Milton father has three high-level hockey daughters, the eldest – Megan – having just wrapped up a stellar career with Northeastern.

While her future seems certain to include a place in medicine, that’s likely to wait a bit, as she figures to be among the top defenders selected in next month’s draft.

“It’s very exciting, what the league has created… the buzz and success,” said Carter, adding he’s always respected the emphasis on academics that’s been placed on grass roots women’s hockey associations. “It’s (PWHL) a good path forward. They’ve worked so hard to get this league; it’s great for the young fans.”


Steve LeBlanc

About the Author: Steve LeBlanc

Steve LeBlanc is a writer, photographer and editor. He serves as editor for
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