By Rick Menning
The bright lights of the Big City became even more illuminated on Friday afternoon as three major women's hockey standouts will be shining their incredible skills in front of tri-state fans this winter.
Superstar forwards Abby Roque and Alex Carpenter, and defender Micah Zandee-Hart are a part of history after becoming the first three players to sign free agent contracts with the New York metropolitan area team in the Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL).
The decorated trio of Olympians and World Champions from the U.S. and Canadian National Women’s Team have all agreed to terms on three-year deals for the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 PWHL seasons. Salary terms will not be disclosed, as per the PWHL Players’ Association.
“When you're building a championship-caliber 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."
Daoust emphasized that this threesome of talented hockey warriors represent the heart of the team that will begin play in January.
"(They are) our foundation, the compete (mentality) every player and coach respects, and the spirit our fans will rally behind." he said. "With them lacing up for us, every play and every moment will be a step closer to the culture of excellence we're crafting.”
Major building blocks
Abby Roque, the first Indigenous player to compete for the U.S. National Women’s Team at the Olympics, earned a silver medal in 2022.
The 25-year-old from Sault. Ste. Marie, MI and member of Wahnapitae First Nation has also won three World Championship medals (1 Gold, 2 Silver) and two Under-18 age group medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver) with Team USA.
Roque played her National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) career with the University of Wisconsin Badgers where she won a National Championship in 2019, then finished top-10 in NCAA scoring as a senior in 2020 earning top-three recognition as a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award.
Roque’s professional career consists of two PWHPA seasons in 2020-21 and 2022-23. She returns to New York after being part of the first-ever professional women’s hockey game played at Madison Square Garden in February 2021.
“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!”--Abby Roque
Alex Carpenter, 29, commits to PWHL New York as one of the most skilled forwards in women’s hockey.
Carpenter debuted with Team USA in 2009 and had a three-year run with the Under-18 program. She is a two-time Olympic silver medalist (2014, 2022) and eight-time medalist at the IIHF Women’s World Championship (6 Gold, 2 Silver). Carpenter hails from North Reading, MA and attended Boston College where she won the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award as a junior in 2015 to go along with being a finalist in 2013 and 2016.
As a senior, she famously captained the Eagles to just the second undefeated regular season in NCAA history. Carpenter has accrued a wide range of professional experience with the PHF’s Boston Pride (2016-17), the CWHL’s Kunlun Red Star (2017-18), and various iterations of the KRS Vanke Rays (2018-21) in the CWHL and ZhHL/WHL. She spent the 2022-23 campaign in the PWHPA and was a nominee for Forward of the Year, as voted by the players.
"From the moment New York was announced as a franchise, I knew this would be a great opportunity both for me and women’s hockey and I can’t wait to get started. I would like to thank Pascal Daoust and his team for their professionalism throughout this process. It became clear to me in speaking with him that the organization is committed to qualities of hard work, accountability and leadership, all which resonate with me personally and in my play. I’m excited to continue to build the game I love with my teammates and this organization here in New York.”--Alex Carpenter.
Micah Zandee-Hart joins New York as a proven leader. She served as captain for Canada’s U18 team and was named co-captain at Cornell University where she became just the second sophomore in program history to don the ‘C’.
Last season in the PWHPA, Zandee-Hart was also voted by her teammates in recognition of her leadership both on and off the ice. Internationally, the 26-year-old from Saanichton, BC became the first player from her province to represent Canada’s National Women’s Team at the Olympics where she won gold in 2022.
Zandee-Hart has also won three World Championship medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze) in addition to her U18 and U22 hardware. She has familiarity with the New York area from her collegiate tenure with the Big Red between 2015-20, capped by point-per-game production as a senior where she finished fourth in the nation in scoring among defenders.
"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.”-- Micah Zandee-Hart.
Soon! 15 more New York stars
The 2023 PWHL Draft is scheduled for Sept. 18 starting at 1 p.m. in Toronto. New York holds the fourth overall pick.