On the morning of July 11, 2017, Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) Commissioner Brenda Andress and Mayor Frank Scarpitti gathered to announce the relocation of the CWHL’s Thunder hockey team from Brampton to the City of Markham. The team will officially relocate to the City of Markham’s Thornhill Community Centre for the 2017/18 hockey season.
Established in 1998, the Brampton Thunder hockey team is the longest running club in the CWHL. The Thunder played in the National Women’s Hockey League for nine seasons, winning the Championship in the 1998-99 season and then again in the final season. The Thunder have been home to several great Olympians including Jayna Hefford, Vicky Sunohara, Cherie Piper, Gillian Apps and Lori Dupuis. In 2007, the CWHL was formed and the Thunder continued on as the Brampton Canadettes-Thunder. It was only in the inaugural season of the CWHL that the Thunder won the league championships.
“The City of Markham has had a strong and successful relationship with the CWHL, including hosting the Clarkson Cup in 2013 and 2014,” said Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “We are thrilled to be part of the CWHL and hosting a women’s team of this caliber within our community. This move will continue to increase the profile of female athletes in Markham, in particular women’s hockey and is a perfect synergy with our community girls’ hockey league, the Markham Stouffville Stars Hockey Program and supports Markham’s Sport Development vision.”
In Markham, the Thornhill community has a long hockey history. The Thornhill Community Centre hosts two long standing minor hockey organizations that are very supportive of the sports development. Both, the Thornhill Community Hockey League and the Markham Islanders Majors continue to provide excellent development opportunities to youth in the City of Markham. As well this community centre is home to the Thornhill Figure Skating Club.
“This partnership with the City of Markham, is another giant step for the future of the CWHL, especially with our recent announcement with Kunlun Red Star joining our league,” said CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress. “This is a great opportunity for the Thunder to excel in a community that has in the past been a gracious host for the Clarkson Cup, is also is home to some of our Board Members, including Brad Morris and Peter Zukow, and has strong ties to the business community.”
In June, the CWHL announced a historic five year deal that will see the Kunlun Red Star (KRS) based in ShenZen, China, join the league for the 2017-18 season. KRS will encourage the growing interest in hockey and female sport in China in advance of the country hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. Through this partnership, KRS aims to have an immediate impact on growing the interest in hockey, more specifically in women’s hockey.