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‘Can’t even describe it’: Kelowna’s Abby Cook making a name for herself in PWHL

After nine games with Minnesota, Cook was traded to Boston, the first trade in PWHL history
Kelowna’s Abby Cook played nine games for Minnesota in the PWHL’s inaugural season before being traded to Boston, the first trade in league history. (Kelly Hagenson/@abbycook9/Instagram)

From playing all over the world, to taking some time off to coach back at home, Kelowna’s Abby Cook couldn’t be happier to be playing in the newest, and ever-growing women’s hockey league.

The newest league in the North America, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) launched in August 2023 and Cook is stoked to have a professional league in action again, let alone the chance to play in it.

“I was really excited, for it to all come together finally and for this opportunity for young girls to look up to us now,” said Cook. “[It’s] the best of the best that get to place in this one league, it’s amazing to think about.”

Cook, who was born in Yellowknife, moved to Kelowna with her family when she was seven and followed in her brother’s footsteps by lacing up the skates to play hockey.

“I have an older brother and he played hockey so I don’t want to say that I didn’t have a choice but…,” Cook said with a laugh. “I was put into it at a very young age and I fell in love with it and I just wanted to be like him eventually so I stuck with it.”

Both Cooks played hockey at the Pursuit of Excellence (POE) program in Kelowna.

“When I was in eighth grade, my dad saw a newspaper ad for a female showcase they were having at POE,” explained Cook. “He didn’t tell me much about it but I went and did pretty well and the owner of the academy at the time, David Roy asked me to come and be a practice player. We decided I should take the opportunity.”

Cook made the right choice as within two months, she was on the main women’s team at POE.

Her four years there earned a full-ride scholarship to Boston University (BU). Cook said she got letters from other schools but BU just felt right, except for when she landed in Boston the first time.

“We landed and I was like ‘Dad, I can’t go to school here, there’s too much snow,’” said Cook, who landed during a snowstorm in early 2015.

But after a campus tour and meeting the head coach, Cook felt like it was the right place to be — “I ended up committing on the spot that day.”

Cook played at BU for four years, graduating as a Health Sciences major in the spring of 2020.

After her time at university, Cook got the chance to go play overseas in Sweden, suiting up for the Djurgårdens IF in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL).

“I knew I wanted to keep playing competitively so it was a pretty easy decision for me,” said Cook.

After playing in Sweden for the 2020-21 season, Cook came back to Kelowna for the offseason and started to coach at RINK Hockey Academy. Later that year, she had the chance to play in the Premier Hockey Federation, which was the women’s league in North American before the PWHL. She played just six games for the Boston Pride.

After the experience with the Pride, Cook took some time off. She came back home, coached with RINK some more, and then took a step back for a few months.

“I completely stepped away honestly,” said Cook. “I was always taking it day-by-day, not looking too far into the future.”

Cook said during that time, she wasn’t actively looking for somewhere to play.

“I was waiting for something to come up and that’s when Switzerland reached out to me.”

She went and played 18 games for Ladies Team Lugano in Switzerland in the 2022-23 season.

In August 2023, the PWHL was announced and Cook was happy just to have a new professional women’s league in North America. It was announced the league would consist of six teams in its inaugural season - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, New York, and Minnesota.

The draft for the league took place in late September and after the draft, the Minnesota team reached out and asked Cook her to attend their training camp, which was slated to start in November.

“I didn’t even have to think about it,” said Cook.

Camp started on Nov. 14 and lasted three weeks. On Dec. 20, Cook got the call that she made the team and signed a one-year contract.

“When they called me and said ‘you’re here’, I was just overjoyed, I never smiled so big before,” said Cook, who added she had tears of joy and relief in the moment.

Cook came back to Kelowna to celebrate with her family for Christmas for a quick four days before the season opened for Minnesota on Jan. 3.

“The crowds, the excitement, I still haven’t gotten used to it,” said Cook, who noted Minnesota had more than 13,000 fans at their home opener a few days later.

“It’s very physical, very fast, every game is a battle and the teams are almost so even,” said Cook. “It’s super exciting, I can’t even describe it.”

On Jan. 28, Cook, in her eighth career game, scored her first career PWHL goal.

“It was crazy, I had so much time and space and in my head I was like ‘this is taking me forever to the shoot the puck’ but nobody was coming for me so I took my time and shot it and lucky enough, it went in,” Cook described.

Cook has played all around the world, yet is still just 25-years-old and knows she’s playing against some women’s hockey legends that she admired watching when growing up.

“You can’t get starstruck, you have to understand that they’re out there and know they’re very talented,” said Cook. “I remind myself, I’m also in the same league as them and there’s a reason why were all here.”

After nine games in Minnesota purple, Cook became part of PWHL history on Sunday, Feb. 11, as she was part of league’s first trade deal.

Her and Susanna Tapani were traded to Boston’s PWHL team for Sophie Jaques.

Cook, wearing #18 for Boston, is expected to make her debut with the team on Feb. 14 against Toronto.

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Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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