On Saturday, the Ontario Hockey League completed its 2021 draft. (The OHL is one of Canada's three major junior leagues.) This is when the teams in the league take turns choosing players that they would like to have play for them.
Picking the best young minor hockey players from across the entire province is never easy. And it was made even harder this year considering that COVID restrictions cancelled not only the entire OHL season, but all of the province's minor hockey leagues, too. Tough to judge players who haven't competed in a year! But the selection went on regardless, and it led to a groundbreaking choice.
In the 14th round of selections, with the 267th pick, the Sarnia Sting picked a goaltender named Taya Currie. And just like that, she became the first female to ever be drafted by an OHL team.
Congratulations poured in, including from two goaltending legends of women's hockey, Manon Rheaume (the only woman to play for an NHL team) and Shannon Szabados (multiple Olympic medallist for Canada and Taya's personal hero!):
Congrats Taya! Watched this live. Cant wait to watch you on the World stage one day ??
— Shannon Szabados (@ShannonSzabados) June 5, 2021
The complete package
When a team is drafting a young athlete—especially one that they can't watch play too much—that player's character is very important. What kind of person are they? Do they work well with teammates? Train hard?
In Taya Currie's case, the Sarnia Sting would've liked what they found out.
Taya comes from a family of athletes, and she might be the most impressive of them all. Not only is she a promising goalie, she is also a rugby player and a horse rider (she participates in a rodeo sport called barrel racing, where riders speed through a course set with large barrels). In everything that she does, she is clearly a competitor!
But of course, it is ultimately her hockey skills that got her where she is right now. As the goalie for the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Triple-A under-16 team, she played on the best team in their division in the 2019-20 season. And past Chiefs who have gone on to big things include current Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat. So what does Taya's future hold?
'I can be a role model'
Like any young hockey player, it's going to come down to hard work. But in Sarnia, she'll be coached by NHL legend and Stanley Cup champion Derian Hatcher and play for the same team NHL star Steven Stamkos did when he was young. And you can tell that the opportunity that she is being given is not lost on her.
"I can be a role model for so many young girls to follow their dreams.," she told the OHL website after her selection. Then later in the evening, she appeared on Hockey Night In Canada to be interviewed by Ron MacLean. Watch her interview here.