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'Exactly what we wanted as professionals': Brittany Howard enjoying life in PWHL

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Brittany Howard has played in nearly every major professional women’s hockey league in North America.

She believes the PWHL is best set up for long-term success.

“All the resources, everything that we have, the staff, the team, like it's exactly what we wanted,” said Howard, the St. Thomas, Ont. native who plays for PWHL Toronto. “Over my five year span playing professional hockey, it has everything that we ever wanted as a team or player individually.”

From the CWHL, to the PWPHA, to the PHF, Howard has seen it all.

Last season, she finished as the third leading scorer in the PHF, but so far in her inaugural campaign in the PWHL, she’s had trouble finding the back of the net.

She’s bounced back and forth from the second to the fourth line on a roster loaded with national team players, but is still producing shots on goal and quality scoring changes, despite a range in ice-time from game to game.

Brittany Howard began playing hockey in the Timbits program in Port Stanley, Ont. (Source: Submitted)

She did finally break the scoring goose egg in Ottawa on Jan. 23.

“It was exciting,” said Howard. “I had hit a couple of posts prior against Boston. It was fun playing fellow St. Thomas native Lexie Adzija that game and we both scored. We spoke after the game [about] how the experience so far has been. It was amazing to get that one and the crowd in Ottawa was awesome.”

Brittany’s parents Scott and Ann started her in hockey as a Timbits player in Port Stanley. That led to the Bad Girls program in Belmont, and eventually the London Devilettes where she thrived.

Her success in junior hockey lead to a scholarship at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA.

There she had personal and team success.

In 2023, she won the Isobel Cup as champions of the now-defunct PHF with the Toronto Six.

“The city, Mayor Joe Preston, and the council had her up there and they presented her with a plaque and we showed the trophy off as much as we could,” said Scott Howard, Brittany’s dad.

Brittany Howard was recognized by St. Thomas City Council after winning the PHF Isobel Cup in 2023. (Source: City of St. Thomas)

“We went back to those kids in those organizations that Britney had played with coming up and she also teaches some hockey and that kind of skills, so those kids came and saw it at different places. So it was pretty cool,” he said.

After being drafted in the eighth round of the PWHL draft, Howard was selected by Toronto, and is just two hours away from home.

“As parents, you're just proud,” said Scott of her making a career out of playing the game she loves. “Who doesn’t want to go to work, and do what you absolutely love?”

But that doesn’t stop him from believing she could be contributing more on the ice, given her history as a goal scorer when given opportunities.

“You see the good and you see the bad when you are a parent you're biased and what you watch,” added Scott. “But we’re cheering for the whole thing (PWHL). You want them to be successful and [Toronto] won their last couple of games. Maybe they're just starting to get on a roll here and like anything chemistry has to develop.”

After a slow start, Toronto has climbed to a tie for third in the PWHL standings.

“We're only a third of the way through, so lots of time to build on our systems and just complete our game as a team as the season goes on,” said Brittany.

Brittany Howard scored 16 goals for the Toronto Six of the PHF Hockey League in 2023 en route to winning the Isobel Cup. (Source: Lori Bollinger/Toronto Six)

“I think our team is starting to build momentum each game and find that chemistry that you need throughout the season. We want to peak come May/June when playoffs start,” she said.

The PWHL has also announced their ‘takeover weekend’ as they start to get opportunities to play in NHL-sized arenas.

Howard and her team will play Montreal at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Feb. 16, and they’ll welcome fans to Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Toronto arenas in March.

“What’s great is this league has brought the best players in the world, and it’s only going to get better,’ said Scott. “I don't think anybody believed that their attendance was going to be sellouts and now they are going to these big facilities. Toronto playing Montreal at Scotiabank with 18,000 fans already sold out. That's incredible.”

Toronto is starting to hit its stride as a team, and their Olympic players are starting to produce, which has helped a two-game win streak.

If they keep playing like they are now, and their on-paper roster plays to its capability, Howard may end up bringing another trophy back to St. Thomas this summer.

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