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Champion Cava enjoying renewed interest in women's sports

Thunder Bay forward says there seems to be a lot more interest in women's hockey, thanks to the arrival of the PWHL.
PWHL star Michela Cava throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Border Cats game against Duluth on Sunday, June 9, 2024 at Port Arthur Stadium. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – Her latest championship win is finally starting to sink in for Michela Cava.

The Thunder Bay forward, instrumental in Minnesota’s five-game win over Boston in the PWHL final, said after hoisting the trophy last month in Boston, she’s heard from family and friends, former teachers and the demands on her time are starting to grow.

Case in point on Sunday, when she threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Thunder Bay Border Cats game, and then hung around to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans who’d come to the game.

Cava is no stranger to championship wins.

The 30-year-old won the 2015 Esso Cup with the Thunder Bay Queens, then captured titles in Sweden, Russia and with the Toronto Six in successive seasons, before joining PWHL Minnesota for the team and league’s first season.

This one, however, seems to be hitting a little different, in particular more attention from back home, where Cava is spending a few days with family and friends before heading out again for a few weeks.

She is happy to celebrate the Walter Cup win.

“Everybody’s reaching out. I’m just trying to take it all in and trying to not let it go by too quick,” she said. “I’m around for the next few weeks and would love to do anything for the town.”

What she’s not sure about is if she’ll get to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Patrick Sharp, Jordan Staal or Matt Murray, and have her day with the Walter Cup. It’s an NHL tradition to give players the Stanley Cup to celebrate with friends, family and often publicly with the people in their hometown.

“We haven’t heard too much about what’s happening. I did hear they’re going to try to get us a replica trophy to take around, but I don’t know when that would be. At some point I think they’re going to let us have a day or so with the Cup. I’ll definitely be going back to Minnesota to grab that to hopefully bring it back, even if it’s just for a day,” Cava said.

Regardless, it’s a great time to be a female athlete, she said.

Women’s sports have taken off in the past couple of years. Interest in the PWHL skyrocketed, with sellout crowds at times in National Hockey League Arenas. Caitlin Clark has spurred renewed interest in the WNBA, and the Canadian women’s soccer team won Olympic gold in 2021, increasing attention on the sport throughout the nation.

It’s noticeable, Cava said.

“It’s the coverage, people caring more and getting it out there, getting it on the right platforms. Obviously social media is a huge thing right now. But it’s also just getting it on the right TV broadcasts and having more people involved in watching has been one of the reasons why we’ve gotten out there. And it’s also us just trying to get it out there to everybody,” Cava said.

A pending free agent – along with about 60 per cent of the league – the nomadic Cava would like nothing more than to return to Minnesota to go for back-to-back championships, and help the team and it’s soon-to-be-announced new nickname build on what it started in 2023-24.

After Monday’s draft, teams have about a week to resign their free agents.

“I really loved my time in Minnesota. Obviously, I had friends and family at all my games and I was able to have my dog down with me for a couple of months of the year. That’s a little bit of a change for me. If I can, I’ll try to stay there. But obviously, it’s hockey, so you know how it goes,” said Cava, who scored five goals and three assists in 24 regular-season games.

“As of right now, I’m hoping to be able to remain where I am.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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