By Darryl G. Smart
Elaine Chuli has landed back in professional hockey.
On Wednesday, the National Women’s Hockey League announced its newest expansion team in Toronto. And during the press conference, the new franchise announced the signing of five players, including the 25-year-old goalie from Waterford.
This is going to be Chuli’s first foray in the NWHL. After spending four years at the University of Connecticut, where she set multiple school records, Chuli played for the Vanke Rays and Toronto Furies of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
Last season, like a vast number of the top women’s players in the world, Chuli took the year off after the closing of the CWHL.
Chuli, like many, are part of the Professional. Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, a group consisting of many of the best players in the world hoping for a larger professional league in North America. Many of the players that are part of the PWHPA have boycotted the NWHL.
The new Toronto ownership team is led by Johanna Neilson Boynton, Tyler Tumminia, and Digit Murphy.
“We aspire to build a perennial Isobel Cup contender for Toronto,” Boynton said in a release. “This will be an organization with strong fan, community and corporate support, outstanding coaching, training, and player development, and a club dedicated to promoting hockey as a game for everyone. Although this pandemic is challenging everyone in profound ways today, and we are very mindful of that, our outlook for women’s sports remains positive. We are launching this team now because we believe in the future.
“The advancement of a professional women’s hockey league for Canada and the U.S., one that will stand and flourish on its own, is a passion for me and everyone associated with the NWHL,” continued Boynton. “We are driven every day to increase the opportunities available to women’s hockey players of all ages, and that’s what this expansion is all about. There is so much potential, and Toronto is the logical next step. I look forward to working closely with players, staff, sponsors, and fans to give Toronto the team the community deserves.”
Chuli is joined by forwards Shiann Darkangelo, a member of the United States National Team that won the 2016 world championships, Taylor Woods, defencemen Kristen Barbara and Emma Greco.