Canadian stars Fillier and Gosling excited to turn pro ahead of Monday's PWHL draft | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Canadian stars Fillier and Gosling excited to turn pro ahead of Monday's PWHL draft

Sarah Fillier of Georgetown, Ont., is the top-ranked prospect heading into Monday's PWHL draft. She and Julia Gosling of London, Ont., are both looking forward to finding out what team they'll end up on and then testing their mettle against the best women's hockey players in the world. Fillier smiles at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Sarah Fillier grew up a fan of the NHL and watched its draft every year. Now that she's turning pro herself, she can't wait for her own draft-day moment.

Fillier — pronounced FILL'-ee-yay — is widely considered the top prospect ahead of Monday's Professional Women's Hockey League draft. The 23-year-old centre from Georgetown, Ont., said it would be an honour to be drafted by one of the league's six teams in the first round, let alone first overall.

"It's what you dream of," said Fillier. "It's an honour to be even recognized as one of the first six picks and alongside people with really storied careers.

"It's an honour to be even named in those shortlists but to go first overall would be a complete dream come true."

Fillier has been a standout in international competition, winning three world championships and Olympic gold with Canada over the past four years. She has 20 goals and 11 assists in 28 games with the national team.

She's also been a star collegiately, playing NCAA women's hockey for the Princeton Tigers.

Fillier had 30 goals and 13 assists over 29 games with the Tigers in the 2023-24 season. She finished her collegiate career at Princeton with 93 goals, 101 assists and 194 points.

However, there will be "a little bit of a learning curve" as she makes the transition from the U.S. collegiate game to the pros.

"I have a little bit of experience going from international and Olympic gameplay back to college, so I feel like I have a bit of experience in changing levels, but this will definitely be uncharted territory," she said in a video conference with reporters on Thursday. "I think the biggest thing that I'm gonna have to adapt to is the physicality of the league.

"I think if you've watched any games this year, that's one thing that's really kind of ramped up and I don't think it's going away so that will be one thing to definitely look for."

New York holds the first overall pick in the PWHL's second-ever draft. The other picks will be, in order: Ottawa, league-champion Minnesota, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto.

Julia Gosling of London, Ont., was Filliers' teammate on Canada's gold-medal winning team at the 2024 world championship. She's also considered a top-10 prospect ahead of the draft at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul, Minn.

The five-foot-10 Gosling, who describes herself as a 200-foot power forward, had 22 goals and 29 assists in 37 games last season for St. Lawrence University. She has a total of 60 goals and 68 assists over her 111 NCAA games.

Gosling said she knew she wanted to join the PWHL after she attended the first game between Ottawa and Montreal where Team Canada captain Michelle-Philip Poulin — a legend of the sport — was roundly booed by Ottawa supporters.

"I just never thought that Pou could get booed before so once I was there and I heard it live and just Ottawa fans were so loud I was like 'this is crazy,'" said Gosling. "I thought everyone would just cheer for her but just because she was on the opposing team, they decided to boo her. It was just crazy."

Gosling was so eager to turn professional that she declared her eligibility for the PWHL having used only four of her five years of NCAA eligibility. She said it was a hard decision but, ultimately, the right one for her even though St. Lawrence will have a competitive roster again in the 2024-25 season.

"In the end, after my season and then the world championships I felt like I was ready for the next step, to join all these elite athletes and playing with the best of the best and challenging myself," she said. "In the end that's just what my gut was telling me and I'm just excited to join the league."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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