Canadian defender Zandee-Hart among 1st 3 players to sign with New York’s PWHL team

New York began its roster-building process for the new Professional Women’s Hockey League by signing a pair of American forwards and bolstering its defence with a Canadian Olympian.

Micah Zandee-Hart — who competed for Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics — will be linking up with Alex Carpenter and Abby Roque, the league announced Friday.

Salary figures were not disclosed, but the PWHL’s annual salaries will range from $35,000 US to $80,000.

“When you’re building a championship-calibre team, you look for your cornerstone players,” said Pascal Daoust, General Manager of PWHL New York. “Signing Abby Roque, Micah Zandee-Hart, and Alex Carpenter isn’t just about roster building, it’s about setting the tone in the locker room and on the ice.

“They represent the heart of our foundation, the compete every player and coach respects, and the spirit our fans will rally behind. With them lacing up for us, every play and every moment will be a step closer to the culture of excellence we’re crafting.”

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At just 26-years-old, Zandee-Hart brings a wealth of international experience to the table, winning gold and silver medals at the 2014 and 2015 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship, as well as one of each medal at the world championships, including a gold medal in Herning, Denmark, in 2022 shortly after doing the same at the Olympics in Beijing.

“I feel privileged to be one of the first women to sign with the PWHL,” Zandee-Hart said. “This league has been years, even decades in the making, as it is the legends of our game who have paved the way for women’s hockey.

“I am grateful to these women, to my fellow players today, the PWHL board of directors, and specifically to the player board for their countless hours in making this a reality for us. I am looking forward to joining the New York organization and growing the game with the community.”

The Victoria native has familiarity with area after playing for four seasons with Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where she served as captain and put up 32 points in 31 games in her final year in 2019-20.

Zandee-Hart has played two seasons in the PWHPA, where she was recognized by her teammates for her leadership both on and off the ice last season.

Offensive spark in Carpenter, Roque

The 29-year-old Carpenter has eight medals at the worlds (six gold, two silver), as well as two Olympic silver medals in 2014 and 2022.

Since 2016, the NCAA champion at Boston College has played in numerous professional leagues including the PHF and the PWHPA, where she was a nominee for Forward of the Year last season.

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“We’re proud to welcome Alex Carpenter to our New York franchise in the PWHL,” Daoust said. “As an offensive centre, Alex’s scoring touch and skills, combined with her determination, truly stand out.

“Her relentless dedication, both during games and in training, perfectly mirrors the core values and vision we’re championing as we strive for unparalleled excellence. We have no doubt Alex will soon win the hearts of our fans.”

The 25-year-old Roque teamed up with Carpenter to capture a silver medal in Beijing, where she became the first Indigenous player to compete for the U.S. National Women’s Team at the Olympics.

Roque won a national championship with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2019, and has since played professionally in the PWHPA.

“I’m so thrilled to be one of the first women signed in the PWHL,” Roque said. “New York is an amazing city and such a great place to start a women’s ice hockey franchise. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this league and this team. As the great Taylor Swift once said, welcome to New York!”

The league opens its inaugural season in January with teams in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York City.

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