From winning Olympic medals to competing at NHL All-Star weekend, Saskatoon’s Emily Clark has experienced a lot over her hockey career.
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A new highlight came on Tuesday, as Clark became part of professional women’s hockey history, signing as part of the inaugural group of players with the Professional Women’s Hockey League’s franchise based in Ottawa.
“This is just a dream come true and it’s truly that,” said Clark. “It’s been that all day. It’s been exciting to share with family, friends and people that mean the most to us and have gotten us here. I’ve definitely just been soaking in the day and could not be happier to be a part of the Ottawa PWHL franchise.”
Clark became the franchise’s first ever signing, as she will be joined on the Ottawa squad with Team Canada teammates Brianne Jenner and Emerance Maschmeyer.
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This will be the 27-year-old’s first experience with a professional team, as she was previously a member of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association which spent the last several years on tours across North America aiming for a sustainable pro league.
That moment came in June, as financial backers of the PWHPA purchased the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation to create a single, unified league for the women’s game.
Ahead of the PWHL’s inaugural draft in a few weeks’ time, the league’s six franchises were able to sign three players each as free agents which Clark jumped at when given the chance.
“This is stuff that we hear all the time being fans of the NHL,” said Clark. “Terms that are very familiar but have never really applied to us yet. I think going into everything, honestly I was just trying to enjoy the moment.”
Ottawa was the first franchise to announce their signings Tuesday morning, meaning Clark will also become part of PWHL lore as the one of the league’s earliest signees.
“This is just such a monumental day in women’s hockey,” said Clark. “A lot of history has been written over the past couple weeks and will continue to be over the next season. Something I’m just so excited about is to be one of the first for this franchise.”
Clark and the rest of her Canadian teammates spent extensive time in Ottawa ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, mentioning the ByWard Market and Rideau Canal as memorable places to visit away from the rink.
She’ll now prepare for her first professional league games in January alongside a pair of teammates who she’s grown with over the past decade.
“It’s hard not to think about everyone that had a hand in getting here and it’s definitely something that we will not take for granted to be able to be a part of,” said Clark.
Clark is a graduate of the Saskatoon Stars program and has won two Olympic medals, including a gold at the Beijing Games.
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