Selected second overall in the 2016 CWHL Draft, Renata Fast has quickly paid dividends for the Toronto Furies. Having celebrated her 22nd birthday just days before the Furies seventh season opener, she has approached the newest chapter in her hockey career with great alacrity, proving to be worthy of her first-round pick status.
In the rapidly expanding history of the CWHL Draft, Fast became the third blueliner selected in the first round by the Furies, joining Tessa Bonhomme (2010) and Megan Bozek (2014). Getting the opportunity to attend CWHL Draft Day festivities, joined by the rest of the first round class, which included first overall pick Kayla Tutino (Boston), third generation star Laura Stacey (Brampton), All-World goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer (Calgary) and Tutino’s teammate at Boston University, Sarah Lefort (Montreal).
“Attending the CWHL Draft alongside the 2016 draft class was a pretty surreal feeling. Playing professional hockey is something we all dreamt of as young girls. The night of the draft was filled with excitement and anticipation as we waited for our names to be announced and for our childhood dreams to become reality.
The talent and size of this years draft class is phenomenal and I was definitely surprised to be selected second overall. The CWHL is filled with great hockey players and even better people and I am honoured to have been selected by the Toronto Furies and given the opportunity to grow the game of women’s hockey and continue playing the game I love.”
Making her debut with the Furies on Opening Day (October 15), a 2-1 overtime victory against the ambitious Boston Blades, Fast would register her first career CWHL point in grand fashion. Along with fellow draft pick Erin Ambrose, the two would assist on a third period goal by Natalie Spooner, which was also the Furies first goal of the season.
Fast and Spooner would team up again in the overtime frame, both assisting on the game-winning goal scored by Carolyne Prevost. Gaining First Star of the Game honors, it was an exceptional way to finish a memorable debut for Fast. As a side note, Spooner would be recognized as the game’s Third Star.The following day, Fast would capitalize on a power play opportunity, scoring at the 13:12 mark of the third period for her first career CWHL goal. Serendipitously, Spooner provided one of the assists, the other being fellow rookie Michela Cava. Of note, Cava, the pride of Thunder Bay, would emerge with a three-point performance, gaining First Star honors, respectively.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised in nearby Burlington, Fast first honed her craft with the PWHL’s Burlington Jr. Barracudas, capturing the 2012 JWHL Challenge Cup, while earning multiple MVP honors in high school for both hockey and soccer (also receiving scholarship offers for soccer). During her youth, former Toronto Maple Leafs alternate captain Tom Fergus, whose daughter Katie was a teammate of Clarkson Cup MVP Delayne Brian with the Robert Morris Colonials, was among her coaches.
Akin to so many other fresh faces with the Furies and the crosstown rival Brampton Thunder, Fast is part of a growing number of CWHL players whose professional careers see them returning to their hockey roots in the Greater Toronto Area. Only adding to this feeling is the fact that Fast is back with the Jr. Barracudas as a Skills Coach.
“After playing four years at Clarkson University it’s great to return to the GTA and play for the Toronto Furies. The Furies have a strong and successful history and I am looking forward to help continue their legacy and follow in the footsteps of the past and present players.
Playing for the Toronto Furies allows us to play in front of so many young female hockey players from around the GTA and hopefully we can inspire them as we strive to grow women’s hockey. As a young girl I remember attending CWHL games and being inspired by the players. Coming home and being able to follow in these players footsteps is an incredible feeling. I’m really excited to play so close to home and have the amazing support of friends and family.”
With the annual Four Nations Cup rapidly approaching, a November tradition in international women’s ice hockey, Fast experienced the career milestone of being named to Canada’s national team for the second time (having gained a silver at the 2015 edition of the Four Nations). One of four Furies named to Canada’s roster, Fast was also joined on the roster by Furies second round pick Erin Ambrose, who were both teammates for the Canadian U22/Development Team that competed against Team USA in the summer of 2015.
Selected in the second round of the CWHL Draft, Ambrose also grew up in the Greater Toronto Area, starring with Keswick High School. For Fast, getting the opportunity to call Ambrose a teammate for the third time as members of the Furies is a point of pride in her illustrious career.
In addition to the upcoming Four Nations Cup, Fast and Ambrose spent the last four seasons blossoming into key leaders for the Clarkson Golden Knights. Among Fast’s career highlights include multiple All-Conference honors, All-Academic Team and the Clarkson Booster Club’s Unsung Hero Award in her senior season.
“It’s great to call Erin Ambrose a teammate again. A player of Erin’s caliber is definitely someone you want as a teammate and not an opponent. Throughout our careers at Clarkson we’ve become close and I’ve learned a ton by practicing and playing with her throughout our four years. I’m excited to continue making memories alongside Erin as we begin our CWHL careers.”
Based out of Potsdam, New York, the two were members of the historic 2014 Frozen Four championship team, which saw Fast gain All-Tournament Team honors. Not only was it the first national champion in Clarkson athletic history, they were the first team outside of the WCHA Conference to capture the Frozen Four. The legacy of such a team has extended into the CWHL. Since the 2014 CWHL Draft, eight alums from the Green and Gold title team have been selected, including four in the 2016 edition.
While the Furies have a formidable blend of elite talent on offense, highlighted by the likes of veteran stars Prevost, Spooner and Kelly Terry, the arrival of Fast and Ambrose presents the franchise with a predominant pair of building blocks for the future of the blueline corps, able to replace the impact of departed blueliners Britni Smith and Tessa Bonhomme, the first-ever player selected in the history of the CWHL Draft.
Coincidentally, Smith, who scored the Clarkson Cup clinching goal for the Furies in 2014, joined Clarkson’s coaching staff in the autumn of 2014, along with 2013 Clarkson Cup champion Meghan Duggan. Both sharing their acumen with a group of young players eager to emulate her own successes, undoubtedly the tutelage of such accomplished CWHL stars served to only strengthen Fast’s skills, providing her with a fundamentally sound game that is destined to result in a bright transition to the CWHL.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: With Furies GM Rebecca Michael (Chris Tanouye)
Draft Image obtained from: http://www.thecwhl.com/tutino-1st-overall-pick-in-2016-draft
Fast (left) and Michela Cava jubilant after milestone filled day against Boston: Image obtained from: https://twitter.com/micava24