A hockey player from Ste. Anne says she is on cloud nine after being drafted into the Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL).

Goalie Raygan Kirk was selected by Toronto with the 42nd and final pick in Monday's draft. She says it was a long night in St. Paul, Minnesota, waiting for her name to be called. But then the moment came, which Kirk refers to as a surreal experience and something she will forever remember.  

"I definitely could breathe for the first time in three hours," says Kirk, recalling what the moment was like. "Immediately given hugs by my parents and my fellow teammates and kind of a long walk going around onto the stage and giving more hugs to girls I've played with or played against."

Being drafted Monday adds to what has already been a year of success for the 23-year-old. In March, Kirk backstopped the Ohio State Buckeyes to an NCAA National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey Championship. Many of her teammates were also selected in this week's draft. 

"They're friends and they're family for life now," says Kirk. "And we got to experience that (Monday) all together, which is really special as well."

Not only did Kirk share the night with her Buckeye teammates, but her parents also made the trek south of the border with her. 

"Having my parents there was phenomenal," says Kirk. "My mom she screamed for every Buckeye; every player she knew that got drafted. But definitely a little louder for me. They were super excited."

Raygan Kirk with her parents on draft day (submitted photo)Raygan Kirk with her parents on draft day (submitted photo)

Kirk says the support from back home and the congratulatory messages she has been getting from friends have also been amazing. 

Kirk becomes the second woman from Ste. Anne to be drafted by Toronto in the PWHL, joining 36-year-old Jocelyn Larocque. 

"She's obviously been someone I've looked up to coming from Ste. Anne as well, and how successful of a career she's had," says Kirk. "Looking forward to the opportunity to possibly play with her as well, is kind of crazy."

Meanwhile, Kirk says this will probably now end up being her longest off-season in many years. With the regular season only starting in November, Kirk anticipates training camp will likely begin in October and looks forward to fighting for a spot on the team.

"I can't wait to just be a part of it," she says. "(Monday) night was amazing and it's just going to continue to grow and get better each year and I'm excited for the future of women's hockey."

Kirk says as a kid she always dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League, though she realized that might not be realistic. Kirk says when the PWHL formed, it solidified her chances of one day playing professional hockey. She adds the PWHL is still in its infancy and even though its inaugural season was "super successful," Kirk says this is just the start of a league that will continue to grow and hopefully add more teams down the road. 


With files from Dave Anthony