THUNDER BAY — The chance to play more often before family and friends has Michela Cava looking forward to taking to the ice when the Professional Women's Hockey League starts its inaugural season.
The Thunder Bay native was chosen by Minnesota in the league's first draft earlier this month.
"It's super exciting," she told TBnewswatch Tuesday in her first interview since the draft.
"I went to school in Duluth my last two years of college. Then, obviously, it's very close to home. I haven't had the opportunity to be that close since I graduated."
Cava said her parents phoned her after the draft "and my mom was actually in tears, just because they haven't had too many opportunities to come and watch me play over the years, with COVID and everything. So they're super happy, and I am as well, to see more family and friends."
It's still early days for the PWHL, and the training camp for the yet-to-be-named Minnesota franchise hasn't even been announced yet.
But the 29-year-old forward is eager to meet up with her teammates, a number of whom she already knows.
"I have recognized a lot of the players that were drafted. I played with a handful of them throughout the years of playing professional hockey, and overseas and stuff. So there are quite a few girls that I am really close with, and then a lot of names that I've played against over the years."
Most recently, Cava played for the Toronto Six of the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation, where she was playoff MVP in her team's championship run that, ironically, concluded with a victory over Minnesota.
"You become comfortable in the places you are, and I definitely have a lot of good memories [in Toronto], and we had a really good group and good friends," she said.
Although transitioning to the new North American pro league caused a couple of months of "anxious times" while she waited to find out where she would land, Cava believes the PWHL will grow the women's game.
"It's definitely being covered way more than I feel like it ever has been. So there's hope that it will be better for the game in the future. That's what we want and what we're aiming for, for the next generation."