NEW YORK: A former Strait-Richmond Minor Hockey Pirate has been drafted into the top women’s hockey league in the world.
“It’s been crazy the opportunities that hockey created for me, and I owe most of it to my parents for allowing me to take all these adventures,” Jennifer MacAskill said, speaking to The Reporter from New York City early last week. “Leaving home at a young age opened a lot of doors for me, and I’m so grateful to be able to play college hockey in the United States and now see what’s in store with the CWHL [Canadian Women’s Hockey League].
“I’m just glad it worked out the way it did.”
The Aulds Cove native was taken in the sixth round (29th overall) of the CWHL’s draft by the Worcester Blades. The draft took place on August 26.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that MacAskill was playing Bantam AA hockey for the Strait-Richmond Pirates but, as she noted, she left the area at a young age to play hockey. Her first stop was Appleby College, a preparatory school in Ontario. While there, she also played in the Ontario Provincial Women’s Hockey League with the Oakville Hornets.
“That was great exposure for the college coaches,” she said, explaining her next stop was Mercyhurst University. For the last four years, she’s been playing with the Mercyhurst Lakers Women’s Hockey Team. In her final season, she wore the ‘C’.
“Going to Mercyhurst was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she said.
“We won two conference championships, and we went to the NCAA tournament where were lost in overtime in the final eight. That was a tough way to end my career, but it was also a good way to go out.”
Now with a degree in public health, MacAskill is studying for her Masters in Sports Business Management while working as an assistant coach at Manhattanville College in White Plains, New York.
“It’s different being on the other side of things, but I think my experience playing at the college level gives me a lot to pass on to the younger players. It’s nice to be role model for the kids I’m teaching, because I had so many role models growing up.
“It was a big leap playing high school and then a club team, then playing for a college team,” she said. “You’re playing against the best players in North America, and that definitely helped me take my game to the next level. But once you get to that level, the hard work doesn’t end. You have to keep on working.”
The Blades share their home ice with the East Coast Hockey League’s Worcester Railers. However, the CWHL has something the ECHL doesn’t – an intercontinental base of teams.
The Blades are the United States’ entry into the league, and with MacAskill’s crew are four Canadian teams: the Calgary Inferno, the Canadiennes de Montreal, the Markhan Thunder, and the Toronto Furies. Also in the league are the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays, of Shenzhen, China.
“There’s a lot on my plate but it’s really exciting.”
MacAskill said that while she’s excited to play at the CWHL level, the prospect of visiting China is a particular highlight. She’s never had a chance to visit that corner of the world before.
While visiting Chinese rinks, she just might be greeted by a friendly face from home. He brother Ben MacAskill, a former standout with the Cape Breton West Islanders and the Halifax Mooseheads, is now living in Hong Kong, working with the internet consulting company InetAsia Solutions.