Among the top offensive prospects in the 2018 CWHL Draft, Brittany Howard landed with the Toronto Furies. Selected eighth overall, the offensively gifted skater holds the potential to upgrade a Furies offense that may develop into one of the most potent of the 2018-19 CWHL season.
Raised in St. Thomas, Ontario, Howard established herself as a scoring sensation with the PWHL’s London Devilettes, the same team where Furies’ Caroline Prevost once played. Recording 75 points with the Devilettes, Howard was also a two-sport star at Parkside Collegiate, also starring in basketball.
Howard was destined to be on the ice, moving on to Pennsylvania’s Robert Morris University (known colloquially as Bo Mo), established herself as one of the greatest players to skate for the Colonials program. Emerging as the top scoring leader among all NCAA rookies during the 2013-14 season, it marked an ascent to superstardom.
Capturing the 2017 Dapper Dan Charities Pittsburgh Sporstwoman of the Year Award, the aftermath of Howard’s junior season saw her drafted by an American-based professional team in Buffalo. Returning to the Colonials, she completed her collegiate career in grand fashion.
Capturing numerous of College Hockey American (CHA) scoring championships, along with three All-CHA selections, one of the early highlights of Howard’s senior season involved a fantastic five-point performance, highlighted by a natural hat trick, vs Minnesota State on October 8, 2017. Just a few weeks later, she would gain recognition as the NCAA First Star of the Week (awarded on November 14).
During the Colonials’ Senior Day against the Lindenwood Lady Lions on February 10, 2018, Howard made her mark in program lore, setting a new record with her 74th career goal, en route to a second straight Conference Regular Season title. Graduating with 79 goals, 102 assists and 181 points in 138 games, making her the Robert Morris career leader in all three categories, she was also the recipient of the 2018 CHA Player of the Year Award, along with a nod as a Second Team All-American.
“RMU will always hold a special place in my heart! I was lucky enough to play with some outstanding players over my five-year tenure at Robert Morris and I hope to see the program continue to grow and become a household name among Division 1 programs.”
In season’s past, Colonials alumnae such as Brianne McLaughlin and Rebecca Vint have starred in the professional ranks, among eight graduates that have suited up in the pros. McLaughlin would don the Stars and Stripes for Team USA in the Winter Games while also leading the Buffalo Beauts to the Isobel Cup, the first Colonials alum to win a professional championship.
Vint, who graduated as the Colonials all-time leading scorer, a mark that Howard eventually surpassed, not only competed in the CWHL All-Star Game, she would organize a series of fundraisers for Teal Cancer which involved skaters from the Brampton (and later, Markham) Thunder.
Adding to this growing legacy of Colonials stars graduating to the pros, Howard feels a tremendous sense of pride in the opportunity to expand on said legacy, while establishing herself as one of the mainstays on the Toronto Furies offense.
Worth noting, Howard was part of a significant 2018 CWHL Draft class that included a pair of Colonials teammates. Blueliner Natalie Fraser and goaltender Elijah Milne-Price joined Howard as members of this year’s draft class, marking the first time that three Colonials were selected in one CWHL Draft.
Such a sense of history also brings with it an element of intrigue as this tremendous triptych of talent were selected by three different teams. The defending Clarkson Cup champion Markham Thunder acquired Milne-Price in the seventh round, while Fraser landed with the Calgary Inferno, obtained as a ninth round selection.
Fraser is tied with Howard for sixth all-time in games played for the Colonials, logging 138 appearances, while Milne-Price led the CHA in 2017-18 with 20 wins and six shutouts, setting a new program record. Undoubtedly, the chance to be part of such a historic draft class alongside her two teammates, a pair of competitors who were integral towards the Colonials becoming a nationally ranked club, along with its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, enhances the milestone of reaching professional status,
“I think it shows the growth of the program as a whole! This year we entered four RMU alumni into the draft, two being good friends of mine in my senior class; Elijah Milne-Price and Natalie Fraser. Both players had a key role in our success during our time at Robert Morris University and I am excited to see what the future brings for their playing careers within the CWHL!”
Part of a pivotal group of Furies draft picks that includes Sarah Nurse and Shea Tiley, Howard will be expected to help turn the page on a franchise that has experienced better days. Having missed the Clarkson Cup playoffs over the last two seasons, the Furies have also struggled on offense, ranking in the lower half among the league’s teams over said seasons.
An element which may yield positive results took place prior to training camp. With Hockey Canada holding its annual Fall Festival, Howard was among the prospective players on hand. Joined by fellow draftees Nurse and Tiley, they were joined by Furies stars (and 2018 Winter Games silver medalists) Renata Fast and Natalie Spooner. Gaining the chance to share the ice alongside players that shall develop into familiar faces, reinforcing the feelings of gratitude and happiness that encompass the essence of donning the Furies blue and white,
“I am most excited to play alongside some of the most talented players in Canada and being given the opportunity to continue my hockey career!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Colonials Draft Image obtained from: https://rmucolonials.com/news/2018/8/27/womens-ice-hockey-from-bobby-mo-to-pro-c lass-of-18-trio-snapped-up-by-cwhl.aspx
Photo credit: Gregory Neiser