Emerging as one of the steals of the 2016 CWHL Draft, Michela Cava is quickly establishing herself as one of the cornerstones of the Toronto Furies offensive attack. With 12 points, Cava ranks second on the club in scoring, trailing newly named captain Natalie Spooner, who leads the way with 14. Such a strong start has Cava ranked 11th overall in the scoring race for the Angela James Bowl.
Among the league’s top 20 scorers, Cava and Brampton’s Laura Stacey are the youngest players. Not only are the two tied in the rookie scoring lead with 12 points, although Cava is in the lead for most assists among rookies, both were named to the third annual CWHL All-Star Game to be hosted at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in February.
Leading the blue and white with three power play goals, Cava also finds herself tied for second among the league leaders in such a category, which includes distinguished company such as Brampton’s Jess Jones, and super snipers Karell Emard and Noemie Marin of Montreal.
Such offensive prodigy was evident early in Cava’s career, continuously providing consistency and dependability. Recognized as the Most Valuable Player at the 2012 Esso Cup (the predecessor to the Clarkson Cup before it became the biggest prize in midget hockey), Cava, who also finished the event as the leading scorer, was instrumental in leading the Thunder Bay Queens to such heights. Along with former Queens teammate, goaltender Amanda Makela (who spent the 2015-16 season with the Buffalo Beauts), both were among the 2016 CWHL Draft Class.
At the NCAA level, Cava spent her first two seasons with the University of Connecticut Huskies, logging a respectable 44 points. Transferring to the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs as a junior, it was a rather sullen season as it signified Shannon Miller’s final season as head coach for the storied program.
Returning to her scoring form just in time for her senior season, Cava emerged as a catalyst on the Bulldogs’ offense. Seeing action in 37 contests, Cava provided a steady presence, logging career highs with 19 goals, 19 assists and 38 points. Assembling 12 multi-point performances, her season best was an amazing four-point performance in a road win against the Ohio State Buckeyes on December 12, 2015. As a side note, her only hat trick of the season took place on February 5, 2016 against the MSU-Mankato Mavericks, gaining recognition as the WCHA Player of the Week, beating out nominees such as Amanda Kessel, Annie Pankowski and Katelyn Tougas. A February 26 clash with the improving Bemidji State Beavers resulted in her final collegiate goal.
Making her Furies debut against the new-look Boston Blades on October 15, the following day would see Cava reach numerous milestones. Not only would she score the first goal of her promising CWHL career, it would also result in the first multi-point effort.
"It was an unbelievable experience to be able to play my first game with the Furies. It is definitely something that you dream about as a young girl and there are no words to explain the feeling of stepping on that ice for the first time. The talent throughout the league is amazing, it’s a great league to be able to play in and a great way for girls to continue their hockey careers playing competitive hockey."
The game would begin with Toronto enjoying a 2-0 lead after the first period of play, with Carolyne Prevost and Natalie Spooner scoring.
In the third period, Cava would log the landmark goal, scoring on fellow rookie Lauren Dahm at the 5:35 mark. Gaining the assists on such a memorable milestone were Natalie Spooner and Michelle Saunders, her first assist of the season. Before the period would expire, Spooner and Cava would team-up, providing Renata Fast, who was selected second overall in the 2016 Draft by the Furies, with the helpers on her first career goal.
As the third and final period wound down, Cava and Furies veteran Jenelle Kohanchuk would feed Spooner, for her second goal of the game. This titanic trio would also be prevalent in the game’s aftermath. Adding to the jubilation of such a memorable day was the fact that Cava was named the First Star of the Game, which was a Furies sweep as Natalie Spooner was recognized as the Second Star while Jenelle Kohanchuk gained Third Star honors.
"I think this was a good step for my career being able to experience this achievement in the first weekend of games. I really enjoyed the moment of being able to skate out after the game in front of all the fans and I think it is of course motivating to try and be one of three stars of the game."
Before the month of October would expire, Cava would experience the thrill of Three Star recognition once again. With an October 30 tilt against the Brampton Thunder, another chapter in the epic Battle of Toronto, the blue and white emerge victorious in a 5-0 thumping, resulting in Cava named the contest’s Second Star, while goaltender Christina Kessler (First Star) and Carlee Campbell Eusepi (Third Star) completed the Furies sweep.
Of note, Cava contributed in the convincing win with another sterling multi-point performance. Nine seconds after Julie Allen scored her first goal of season, Cava placed the Furies back on the score sheet with Campbell Eusepi gaining the assist. In the second stanza, Cava would assist on Prevost’s marker, placing the game out of reach with a 3-0 advantage.
Cava has enjoyed a very strong first half to her rookie campaign. Of note, she has logged at least one point in nine games, with the blue and white emerging victorious in five of them, highlighted by a sweep of Les Canadiennes de Montreal. In addition, Cava assembled a solid five game scoring streak, starting on October 30 and lasting until November 20.
Among the goals that Cava has scored already, one was part of a memorable season highlight. With the Furies hosting a game on December 10 in Emily Fulton’s hometown of Stratford, Ontario, it also signified team co-founder Sami Jo Small’s first game since giving birth to her daughter. Cava would contribute a goal in a hard-fought 5-4 final that represented Small’s first win since January 11, 2015, while simultaneously providing her the milestone of her 25th career win with the blue and white.
"It is a great honor to be able to play for the Toronto Furies and in the CWHL. I credit my success thus far to my team and coaches. We have a very skilled group of girls and experienced coaches who have helped me along the way and I wouldn’t be having this success without them."
"All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated"
Image obtained from Twitter: https://twitter.com/micava24